Egypt acquits 5 students of violence

The Court of Cessation yesterday acquitted five female Al-Azhar University students of violence in the case known in the media as “Rufaidah and her sisters”. The students, Alaa Mahmoud Abdel-Rahman, Afaf Ahmed Omar Hussein Hadi, Hanadi Ahmed Mahmoud Ahmed, Rafidah Ibrahim Ahmed and Asmaa Hamdi Abdul Sattar Hussein, faced charges of belonging to a terrorist organisation, attacking security personnel and protesting without permits. The Nasr City Misdemeanour Court sentenced the five students to five years in prison and a 100,000 Egyptian pound ($5,401) fine each in 2014. The Court of Cessation then accepted an appeal by their lawyers.

Egypt approves handover of islands to Saudi Arabia

Egypt’s government has just approved a deal that will see it hand over two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia. The approval was sent to parliament for ratification today, according to state television reports. Earlier this month, a state advisory body called on a Cairo court to uphold a ruling that would annul an agreement that allows Saudi Arabia to control the two islands. The agreement was first announced in April this year and caused public uproar and protests in Egypt by those angered that the two uninhabited islands of Tiran and Sanafir could be surrendered to another country. Two months later, the Higher Administrative Court annulled the agreement justifying the move by stating that Egyptian sovereignty over the islands […]

Kuwait to buy gas from Iraq

Kuwait is set to import up to 200 million cubic feet of gas daily from Iraq, oil ministers from both countries said after holding talks yesterday, Gulf News reported. Kuwaiti Oil Minister Essam Al Marzouq said the quantities have been agreed, starting with purchasing 50 million cubic feet per day. After cementing this, the amount of gas purchased will rise gradually to 200 million cubic feet a day. He said a specific time scale has not yet been agreed and Kuwaiti and Iraqi authorities are still in the process of negotiating the start date of this new project. Iraqi Oil Minister Jabbar Al-Luaibi said this new agreement “will see light very soon”, Kuwait News Agency reported. On 22 October, four […]

Mecca’s collapsed crane was operating without a licence

The crane that collapsed on the Grand Mosque in Mecca in September 2015 killing 120 people was operating without a licence, Saudi Gazette reported. Giving evidence at the Jeddah Summary Court as a part of its investigation into the tragedy, an engineer said the crane was operating without the necessary licences. The Saudi Binladin Group, which is involved in the Haram expansion project, owned and operated the crane. Workers who operated the crane did not know how to operate it and were given no training prior to doing so, the investigation has revealed. Additionally, they had no idea that the instruction manual that was supposed to be given to them prior to operating the crate even existed. The Saudi Binladin […]

Qatar World Cup construction workers to get ‘cooling’ hats

“Cooling” hard hats are to be distributed to construction workers who are building football stadiums ahead of the World Cup games in Qatar. Scientists at Qatar University designed the solar-powered hard hats to improve conditions for 2022 World Cup labourers and reduce the risk of heat stroke and lower their body temperature during the summer heat. A fan in the top of the helmet blows air over a cold pack onto the person’s face reducing skin temperature by up to 10 degrees centigrade, said Saud Ghani, an engineering professor at Qatar University. “Our objective was to reduce heat stress and heat strokes for workers in Qatar and the region,” said Ghani. 5,100 Construction workers are building the stadiums Summer temperatures […]

Israeli map erases prominent Palestinian village in Jerusalem

A new tourist map of Jerusalem’s Old City has erased the Palestinian neighbourhood of Silwan. The new publication is, however, believed to be a significant improvement from the old version of the map, which was heavily criticised for promoting an Israeli-settler narrative of the Old City and its environs and failed to locate important holy sites for Christian and Muslim visitors, including Al-Aqsa Mosque. Instead most of the labelled sites were of little interest to tourists, including yeshivas, or centres for the study of the Torah, and buildings managed by radical Jewish settler organisations. The new version recently released by Israel’s tourism ministry, enlarges some of the key holy sites that are a major attraction to millions visiting the city […]

What’s behind John Kerry’s speech?

A eulogy for the two-state solution? Maybe – but Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech Wednesday sounded suspiciously like yet another desperate attempt to sustain the so-called ‘peace process’. It is only possible to understand the Security Council resolution and Kerry’s speech, how to view them – their weaknesses, and the opportunities they represent – by beginning with a reality check about the two-decade old, US and internationally-led peace process. The peace process imposed a false symmetry on occupier and occupied, transforming coloniser and colonised into ‘two parties’ with mutual obligations and responsibilities. The peace process has also served to further immunise Israel from accountability for systematic and serial human rights abuse and international law violations. Attempts to secure justice […]

What’s behind John Kerry’s speech?

A eulogy for the two-state solution? Maybe – but Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech Wednesday sounded suspiciously like yet another desperate attempt to sustain the so-called ‘peace process’. It is only possible to understand the Security Council resolution and Kerry’s speech, how to view them – their weaknesses, and the opportunities they represent – by beginning with a reality check about the two-decade old, US and internationally-led peace process. The peace process imposed a false symmetry on occupier and occupied, transforming coloniser and colonised into ‘two parties’ with mutual obligations and responsibilities. The peace process has also served to further immunise Israel from accountability for systematic and serial human rights abuse and international law violations. Attempts to secure justice […]

American imprisoned in Egypt hopes for her release

An American imprisoned in Egypt for nearly three years is hoping her custody may end soon. Aya Hijazi, 29, is a dual citizen of the United States and Egypt who returned to Egypt with her husband to start a foundation to help homeless children called Belady. However, under President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s crackdown on civil society, Hijazi and her husband, Mohammad Hassanein, were arrested in 2014 along with six others on the accusation they were involved in child abuse and that the foundation was linked to the banned Muslim Brotherhood. However, Hijazi’s family’s optimism of her release grows as her case draws further international condemnation and the lack of evidence exposed. The case against Hijazi has been blasted by human […]

Yemen launches major offensive in Shabwa province

The Yemeni army began a massive offensive yesterday to retake areas in Bayhan and Asilan districts in the southern province of Shabwa, as fighting continue in the mountainous region of Naham northeast of Sana’a continued. Meanwhile, the Saudi-led Arab Coalition intensified its attacks on Houthi positions and forces loyal to ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh. The head of relief work at the King Salman Relief Centre, Abdullah Ruwaili, told the Saudi Al-Hayat newspaper that the aid sent by Saudi Arabia to Yemen’s needy has been attacked by different parties, especially in Yemen’s north. “The centre faces difficulties in its work including security threats in conflict areas and the prevention of the delivery of aid by certain parties for political purposes,” […]