Saudi defenses destroy several drones launched by Yemen's Houthis toward the Kingdom: Arab coalition – Arab News
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s air defenses destroyed Houthi drones targeting the Kingdom, the Arab coalition said early on Monday.
The drones were shot down in Yemen before they could cause harm.
This follows the downing of several drones launched by the Iran-back militia on Sunday.
The action comes as the Arab coalition forces have been eliminating militia assets in recent weeks, including weapons and personnel.
The militia frequently launch cross border attacks using explosive-laden drones and ballistic missiles targeting populated areas in the Kingdom’s southern region.
The group, who seized the Yemeni capital in 2014, have been fighting the internationally recognized government, which is supported by the Saudi-led Arab coalition.
Earlier on Sunday, the coalition said Saudi defenses intercepted and destroyed four drones that tried to target the southern region.
The Arab Parliament denounced the attacks and said they constitute a clear violation of the Stockholm Agreement, which stipulates a cease-fire.
It “called on the international community to take an immediate and decisive stance to stop these repeated terrorist acts, and to prevent this militia from acquiring advanced military technology, which the Iranian regime supplies and used to target vital and civilian facilities.”
The UAE strongly condemned the attempts to target the Kingdom and said the continuation of these terrorist attacks by the Houthi militia reflects its blatant defiance of the international community.
Bahrain also strongly condemned the attacks, saying it “reflects the militias’ continued sinister and systematic attacks to target civilians and innocent lives.”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stressed Bahrain’s support for all measures Saudi Arabia takes to ensure the security and safety of its territory, citizens and residents.
The war in Yemen has now raged for seven years, with some of the fiercest fighting taking place this year in the resource-rich and government-held province of Marib.
On Sunday, three Yemeni civilians were wounded when four Houthi missiles landed in residential areas in Marib.
Large explosions rocked the city after the four missiles hit the airport, Al-Shareka and Rawdha neighborhoods, residents said.
Footage on social media showed thick smoke billowing from shelled areas as people fled.
“The Houthi militia’s repeated targeting of the city of Marib, which is crowded with millions of residents and displaced people, with ballistic missiles is part of its attempts to inflict a big number of casualties among civilians. This is a cowardly act of revenge,” said Moammar Al-Eryani, Yemen’s information minister.
MAKKAH: The Kingdom’s Ministry of Culture has designated 2022 as “The Year of Saudi Coffee,” celebrating the authentic taste of a local household staple.
Saudi Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan said that the “Saudi Coffee Initiative” would be the umbrella under which all celebrations would gather as an essential component of the Kingdom’s culture.
In the past few years, coffee bean farms in Jazan have been given special attention as support for farmers has increased, and special care has been given to the Khawlani bean.
Gibran Al-Maliki, the owner of a coffee bean farm in Al-Dayer in Jazan, famous for its abundance of coffee bean farms, said that the announcement was a great honor and would be a beacon for those interested in the coffee industry.
He told Arab News that the coffee bean was once considered essential to the ancient Khawlani coffee drink and had been revived in recent years.
Al-Maliki said that the region went through a period of drought and low rainfalls last year, which affected many coffee bean farms as the crop requires a lot of watering. He said that most farmers could not irrigate using water tanks due to the difficult topography of the region. The farms were located in a rugged mountainous area, making it difficult to establish a stable irrigation system.
Khaled Hashem Nagro, general manager of Renad Arabia for Events Management, said that each region was distinguished from other regions in producing Arabian coffee — whether through the taste, the composition of flavors or through roasting.
During the collection process, coffee beans are given special care; they differ in color depending on type — they are found in yellow, black and brown shades. Farmers cultivating the beans discard very dark or black beans or those in direct sunlight, which can affect the taste. Flavors are also dependent on the topography and nature of the regions.
• The coffee bean tree is grown in 70 countries worldwide and is an important source of income. However, in Yemen and southern Saudi Arabia, the coffee produced is considered one of the most delicate types of coffee.
• Yemen witnessed centuries-old commercial deals with the Dutch and the British to export coffee beans.
The beans are roasted over a light fire, with the exception of the Bahri, which requires intense fire.
There’s the Khawlani, Berri, Harari, and Bahri (imported from Brazil or Turkey) bean.
The finest type of coffee is the Khawlani, which is divided into two categories. The first is the “Qatma” (with small coffee beans), which is organic and only found in the high mountains of Khawlan of Yemen. It is rare, in high demand, and expensive. The second category is the long grain of Khawlani, cultivated in most Yemeni regions.
After the roasting process, the coarse powder, mixed with crushed cardamom, is boiled in water, and no sugar is added. Condiments can be also be added to the mix, such as cardamom or saffron, sometimes even mastic and amber, depending on personal preference.
For as long as anyone can remember, drinking Arabic coffee has been a common social habit and an integral part of Saudi culture.
“Choosing the source of the coffee is very essential and gets reflected in its quality and taste whether being Khawlani, Harari, Brazilian, etc.,”  Nagro told Arab News. “These types are now available in every Saudi household and people prepare it in their own way. Every region serves coffee in its traditional way that distinguishes it from others, and this contributes to a diversity of tastes.”
The researcher and former head of the Culture and Arts Association, Abdullah bin Abdullah Al-Saad, said that Arabian coffee symbolizes authentic Arab celebration and generosity.
“It’s a delicious and common drink presented to their guests as an expression of generous hospitality and of honoring,” Al-Saad said.
“Some coffee beans are considered ordinary, and others are regarded as luxurious and extravagant in taste.”
The coffee tree is grown in 70 countries worldwide and is an important source of income. However, in Yemen and southern Saudi Arabia, the coffee produced is considered one of the most delicate types of coffee. It is world-renowned, as Yemen witnessed centuries-old commercial deals with the Dutch and the British to export coffee beans.
Throughout the year, we have heard many success stories coming from the southern region of Jazan, specifically about coffee bean farms and farming. We’ve seen small family businesses boom into fully fledged large companies exporting their beans across the nation, festivals, workshops, as well as youth training in the processes of coffee farming, cultivating, packaging, and even barista training.
Last month, the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture signed an agreement to establish a coffee development city in the Al-Baha region’s Mashuqa and Al-Qara governorates.
The city will be built in an area totaling 1,600,000 sqm and will have the operational capacity to provide 1,000 job opportunities and plant 300,000 coffee trees.
ADEN: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center handed over water purifying and testing equipment to a Yemeni government ministry as part of a project to combat cholera.
The project is being implemented by KSrelief, in cooperation with the World Health Organization, to monitor water quality in Yemeni governorates with a high risk of cholera outbreaks.
The technologically advanced equipment will contribute to measuring the level of contamination and detecting diseases in the targeted directorates.
The Prosthetic Limbs and Rehabilitation Center in Marib governorate is providing crucial medical aid for injured Yemenis through support from KSrelief.
In November, the center carried out 1,397 services and helped 500 people. Prosthetic limbs provided by workers aided in the recovery of 279 patients.
KSrelief also continued its efforts in fighting cholera in camps for displaced people in Marib governorate, in collaboration with the National Malaria Control Program at the Ministry of Health and the WHO. 
DUBAI: Hakeem Jomah debuted his latest horror flick “Kayan” during the inaugural Red Sea International Film Festival, taking place in Jeddah from Dec. 6-15.
The film had its world premiere on Dec. 10.
“I had several scripts pitched to me, but none of them really resonated,” the Saudi doctor-turned-director said. “So I asked if I could write my own script. And what I enjoy writing tends to be horror and psychological thrillers.”
Thus, “Kayan” was born.
The film, which was shot over the span of two weeks in Egypt, is Jomah’s second. It tells the story about a couple far from home stuck in tense circumstances out of their control.
Starring Saudi actors Summer Shesha and Ayman Almutahar, the entire film takes place in a single night at a hotel.
“I think we shot something very raw,” Jomah said. “We didn’t have any tripods. We didn’t have any lighting. Our film is very reliant on long, drawn-out shots where we go from the lobby all the way up to the room on the stairs. Our lenses are super tight so you feel like you are those characters. You see what they see, you feel what they feel.”
I had several scripts pitched to me, but none of them really resonated. So I asked if I could write my own script. And what I enjoy writing tends to be horror and psychological thrillers, Thus, ‘Kayan’ was born.
Hakeem Jomah, Saudi filmmaker
The director admitted that the film may not be “everyone’s cup of tea,” but said that it is something he would want to watch.
“Ultimately it is a story about grief and acceptance,” he said. “It’s a very divisive film. I know it’s going to be, but all great stories are divisive stories.”
“Kayan” is the first exclusive film supported by streaming service MBC Shahid. “MBC really rolled the dice on me. I really give them props for that because they had no reason to believe that I would make something that was not a disaster. And they gave me all the space to create something I wanted,” the director mused.
Jomah’s film was not going to be part of the Red Sea International Film Festival’s line-up. Initially, he was just supposed to make a trailer, but then received a call from the festival organizers asking if he could deliver the entire film.
“So we went into intensive, hardcore editing. We’ve been working tirelessly night and day to make that happen.”
Jomah said that he is “honored, excited and nervous” to take part in the inaugural festival.
“Joining my friends and my colleagues on such an international front is a true feat from where we were five years ago. And every one of the local filmmakers on the roster is an honor to be in the trenches with,” he said.
“If you had told me a few years ago that Joe Wright would be premiering his latest film in Jeddah, it would have been unbelievable. We get to be among some of the world’s most seasoned filmmakers as colleagues and participants in what is bound to be the epicenter of film in the Middle East this year,” the filmmaker said.
Jomah was born in Jeddah and relocated to Scotland when he was two years old. His family moved back to Saudi Arabia where he continued his education and eventually enrolled in medical school to become a doctor.
A cinephile at heart, the director, who growing up would fly to Dubai with his family to watch films, decided to pursue filmmaking seriously in 2016.
“It was one fateful day when ‘Barakah meets Barakah’ came out. And it was the first Saudi film to get international renown. And for me, ‘Saudi film’ and ‘international renown’ were things I’d never thought I’d hear in the same sentence so it kind of pushed me to make something,” he said.
He traveled to the supposedly haunted Madayen Saleh ruins in the north of the Kingdom to shoot his first film alongside the only other person he knew who loved film as much as he did — his wedding photographer. He called up Saudi actor Khaled Yeslam to star as the lead.
“I didn’t have the know-how to make a film,” he recalled. “It took us eight months to edit that movie because we didn’t know how to edit.”
“Madayen” was rejected by several international film festivals, before it was picked up by the Hong Kong Independent Film Festival.
It was also screened at the Arab Film Festival in Los Angeles, which Jomah, who was still practicing as a doctor at the time, had to take unpaid leave to attend.
“The first time it was screened to a Saudi audience they went pretty crazy for it,” Jomah said. “I realized I wanted to (make films) forever when I was sitting in the theater with all Saudis and they didn’t know I was the filmmaker. I was just a guy in the audience. And when the first jump scare happened and everyone gasped, and then they started laughing as they do, I realized that it was a very euphoric sensation where I did a thing and people reacted positively to it.”
It wasn’t until shortly after Saudi Vision 2030 reform program was announced that Jomah decided to quit his job in the ER and pursue filmmaking full-time. “I saw this as a chance to be part of the kingdom’s cinematic identity,” he explained.
The filmmaker revealed that he will continue to create horror films, a genre he feels is lacking in Saudi Arabia. “I feel a trap we used to fall in a lot of the time was we created something that romanticized our region to Western audiences. I just want to see genre films. I want to see stories. I don’t want to see this hyper-orientalist kind of spotlight on us. I would love to see a Saudi superhero. Not everything has to be so deep and meaningful.”
Indeed, sometimes it just has to be frightening.
RIYADH: Saudi authorities arrested more than 15,000 people in one week for breaching residency, work and border security regulations, an official report has revealed.
From Dec. 2 to 8, a total of 7,567 people were arrested for violations of residency rules, while 5,600 were held over illegal border crossing attempts, and a further 1,902 for labor-related issues.
The report showed that among the 438 people arrested for trying to enter the Kingdom illegally, 66 percent were Yemeni, 29 percent Ethiopian and 5 percent other nationalities.
The authorities transferred 78,154 offenders to their respective diplomatic missions to obtain travel documents. A further 2,338 people were transferred to complete their travel reservations and 7,700 were deported.
The Saudi Ministry of Interior said that anyone found to be aiding illegal entry to the Kingdom, including transporting and providing shelter, could face imprisonment for a maximum of 15 years, a fine of up to SR1 million ($260,000), or confiscation of vehicles and property.
Suspected violations can be reported on the toll-free number 911 in the Makkah and Riyadh regions, and 999 or 996 in other regions of the Kingdom.
JEDDAH: As Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea International Film Festival approaches the halfway point, junkets featuring artists from across the Arab world provide a closer insight into their films. Arab News sat down with the cast of “The Alleys” to know more.
The Jordanian feature film, one of the 16 Arabic and international films in the Red Sea Competition category, tells the story of an alley in East Amman representing a toxic brew of gossip and violence. Just one thing is sure: the shadowy corners of the alleyway are crawling with secrets.
Directed by Bassel Ghandour, who produced and co-wrote the Bafta winner film “Theeb” by Naji Abu Nawar, the film tells the story of Ali, a hustler who passes himself off as a regular businessman trying to scam enough money to legitimize his relationship with Lana, his secret lover. Meanwhile, Lana’s mother is being blackmailed by someone claiming to have filmed Lana and Ali together; Ali knows a man who can fix the situation, but that kind of fix will only lead to another crisis of deception and revelation.
“The Alleys” is Ghandour’s first feature as a director. It had its world premiere at the Locarno Film Festival and its Arab premiere at the Red Sea Film Festival.
The Alleys received support from the Jordan Film Fund of the Royal Film Commission of Jordan, the Doha Film Institute in Qatar and the Red Sea Film Festival for Film Development in Saudi Arabia.
The film won the jury prize for the Eastern Promises Filmmaking Program at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in the Czech Republic 2021.
It also received two awards at the Cairo International Film Festival for feature films in the post-production stage.
The cast includes the Jordanian actor Mondher Rayahne, who played Abaas in the film and is most famous for his roles as a knight or prince in Bedouin and historical series.
He said that Jordanians live in a multicultural society, “We presented a work that touches on a global humanitarian issue. It sheds light not only on a Jordanian issue, but on a universal one.”
“Our film represents a Jordanian neighborhood with its very simple identity, but we aspire to represent it in an artistic form,” he said.
“The stories never end, there are many alleys and there are many beautiful stories waiting for us to present them.”
Rayahne expressed his fascination with the festival and the level of Saudi films shown. “My relationship with Saudi society is very close and it has a good long history. We showed the film in Jeddah, a very dear city to my heart personally, and I am very happy with the reaction of the audience and their feedback about our film,” he said. “Saudi Arabia is full of theatrical and cinematic intellectual talents and I am happy with the greatness they have reached so far.”
Mohammed Geezawi, who played Bahaa in the film, said this genre is very controversial as it raises many important issues, such as bullying, extortion and fraud: “‘The Alleys’ tells a lot about the Jordanian street.”
Imad Azmy, who played Ali, said that his presence at the inaugural festival is a very important step in his artistic career.
“The festival will put the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the map of international film festivals, and this is an achievement that we are all proud of as Arabs, he said. “The film was shown to our Arabic audience for the first time in Saudi Arabia, and its place at this great event is a big thing for all of us. I was very interested in watching the audience’s reactions to the film, and I must say, I was very happy.”
Jordanian actress Baraka Al-Rahmani, who played Lana, said she would like to see many movies similar to ‘The Alleys’ because, she said, Jordan is a country with rich societal stories hidden in its alleys.