Arab News chief recalls anecdote that set foundation of Saudi-Japanese ties

Time: July 08, 2019  

Arab News Editor-in-Chief Faisal J. Abbas speaks at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo on Thursday. (Photo/Supplied)
  • Faisal J. Abbas sees enhanced bilateral relations following crown prince’s successful visit

TOKYO: Following the visit of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Japan for the G20 Summit, Arab News Editor-in-Chief Faisal J. Abbas provided context to growing Saudi-Japanese ties during a talk in Tokyo on Thursday.

Participating in a panel discussion at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan, moderated by British journalist Fred Varcoe, Abbas recalled an incident that marked a turning point in bilateral relations.

“It involved former Japanese Emperor Akihito and the late (Saudi) King Fahd. During the 1953 coronation of (Britain’s) Queen Elizabeth II, when King Fahd wasn’t even crown prince at the time let alone king, both he and the emperor had been invited to attend the ceremony,” said Abbas.

“Upon discovering that he’d been seated in the first row and the emperor had been seated in the third row, King Fahd immediately insisted on giving the emperor his own seat, despite the breach of British royal protocols,” Abbas added.

“A friendship grew out of mutual respect ever since that moment. In some circles, it’s a very famous story, and whenever there’s a state visit it’s always repeated. That shows you the level of respect between the leaderships of the two countries.”

Abbas took questions from journalists in attendance, and the topics included Saudi-Japanese ties, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Saudi-Iranian relations.

He also discussed educational reforms, being a journalist in Saudi Arabia, and ongoing efforts toward gender equality and female empowerment in the Kingdom.

Abbas expressed his happiness at being in Japan for a third time, saying he learned something new every time he was there, and hoped to spend more time in the country in the future.

He referenced the crown prince’s visit, saying he hoped to see Saudi-Japanese relations go beyond trade and extend to such areas as cultural exchange.

“The relationship started based on the fact that Japan doesn’t produce its own oil, and Saudi Arabia used to import a lot of automobiles from Japan,” Abbas said.

“But now, with the new crown prince and the focus on having a strong bilateral relationship with Japan, we’re looking to enhance the relationship.”

Abbas also discussed his interview with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono, in which he discussed the possibility of Tokyo acting as a “credible broker” in ongoing efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

When asked about the Saudi position on Israel, Abbas stressed that the Kingdom has no issue with Judaism or Jews.

“We believe that the problem between Palestine and Israel is a land dispute, and taking it out of context has harmed both sides,” he said, adding that once religion enters the argument, it becomes more complicated.

“You stop talking about land, and it becomes a nasty who’s right, who’s wrong situation. Our position is clearly outlined in the Arab Peace Initiative (API) of 2002.”

The API calls for normalizing relations between Arab states and Israel in exchange for the latter’s full withdrawal from the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem, and a “just settlement” of the Palestinian refugee issue based on UN Resolution 194.

Abbas welcomed the idea of Japan becoming an unbiased broker in negotiations. “I think it’s a great idea. The region has a lot of trust in Japan, and I hope it succeeds,” he said.

On the subject of Tehran, he said Saudi Arabia has “more in common with Iran than probably any other country in the world. It was never a position of us or them. What we’re asking for is to stop the destabilizing activities Iran has been carrying out in the region.”

Abbas added: “If we can disarm Iran, I think it would achieve the purpose without a drop of blood, and it would be an excellent achievement.”

He also discussed his attempts to create a gender-inclusive environment at Arab News, referencing his plan for a 50/50 gender ratio by 2020.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Arab coalition intercepts Houthi drones targeting Saudi Arabia

30/06/19

Saudi army officers walk past F-15 fighter jets, GBU bombs and missiles displayed during a services marking the 50th anniversary of the creation of the King Faisal Air Academy at King Salman airbase in Riyadh on January 25, 2017. (File/AFP)

  • The Houthi militia targeted a civilian residential area in the southern province of Asir
  • The Iran-backed Houthis have increasingly used drones to target southern Saudi Arabia

The Saudi-led Arab coalition intercepted two drones targeting Saudi Arabia that were launched by the Houthi militia in Yemen.

Coalition spokesperson Col. Turki Al-Malki told Saudi news agency, SPA, that the Houthi militia targeted a civilian residential area in the southern province of Asir at 11:45 p.m. local time on Saturday. No casualties were reported.

The Houthi affiliated news channel, Al-Masirah, reported late Saturday that the Houthis targeted Saudi airports in Abha and Jizan with Qasef-2K drones.

The Iran-backed Houthis have increasingly used drones to target southern Saudi Arabia, including two recent strikes on the Abha airport.

On June 12, a Houthi missile attack on Abha airport wounded 26 civilians, drawing promises of “stern action” from the coalition. And on June 23, another Houthi attack on Abha airport killed a Syrian national and wounded 21 other civilians, according to the coalition.

The drone attacks come amid heightened tensions between the US and Iran.

This article was first published in Arab News

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How Malika Favre’s Arab News cover image of a woman driving made its mark in Saudi Arabia

Time: June 24, 2019  

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French artist Malika Favre
  • An image that wrapped the special Arab News edition of June 24, 2018, took off as a popular symbol of the historic day
  • The French artist, whose mother is Algerian, is known for her minimal style and popular New Yorker covers

JEDDAH/RIYADH: An image by French artist Malika Favre, marking the day that women were allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia for the first time, has been formally recognised with a slew of awards after it became something of a cultural sensation.
The picture, commissioned to cover the special “Start Your Engines” edition of Arab News in June last year, took off as a popular symbol of that historic moment. It was downloaded as mobile wallpapers, replicated on hats, painted on a wall mural in Riyadh and, to celebrate its one-year anniversary, Arab News is giving away bumper stickers with it in today’s print edition.
It wasn’t just the masses that embraced the image. It went on to become the success story of the newspaper awards season, clinching seven design gongs, including the Society for News Design’s Award of Excellence for cover story illustration.
“For Arab News to be recognized on a global scale with so many awards is a great honor,” said Simon Khalil, global creative director at Arab News. “This highlights just how important this moment in history was for women across the Kingdom. We hope Malika’s work and our cover will empower women across the whole region.”
Favre, whose mother is Algerian, is an illustrator for The New Yorker, New York Times, Vanity Fair and Penguin Books. She’s known for her minimal style, with designs that are easily linked back to her through her use of vibrant colors and positive/negative spacing.
“As a champion of women for years through her unique creative style, Malika Favre was the obvious choice for our cover, and her illustration brilliantly captures the significance of this moment on the day Saudi Arabia changed forever,” said Khalil.
Favre’s illustration is of a Saudi woman in her headscarf, with her hands on a steering wheel reflected in her sunglasses (in the animated online version, her hands and the wheel move). “A story within a story,” the artist described it.
The artwork has resonated with a lot of people, to the extent that even those who were not Arab News readers at the time shared it and downloaded it in droves. Favre thinks that’s because it is about “empowering women and looking forward to the changes to come.”
Favre is a firm believer in celebrating even the smallest milestones in life. “The cover holds a very positive message, and I think this is what resonated with people out there, and especially the women of Saudi Arabia,” she said from her base in London.
Favre was not expecting Saudi Arabia’s reaction to the cover. “It is always an amazing feeling when an illustration starts having a life of its own.”
One Saudi female artist was especially moved by the cover. For a Panorama Mall contest in which she participated, Noha Al-Johar recreated Favre’s design as mural on the wall of the mall’s parking lot.
Al-Johar told Arab News that she went into the competition blindly, but then saw Favre’s illustration and knew what she had to do. For three days she replicated the design faithfully, right down to the street details in the oversized sunglasses.
When Favre came across a photo of the homage painted by Al-Johar, she shared it on her social media accounts. Al-Johar was very humbled by the attention. “I want to thank her,” she said. “She’s the definition of a visionary.”
Favre expressed delight at how her illustration has been received. “As an artist, getting awarded for a piece is very fulfilling,” she said.
“This cover was very important for me on a personal level as a woman, and I was really happy to see the image being shared, emulated and celebrated by other artists.”

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Arab News women driving cover wins further recognition in DNA Paris Design Awards

Time: May 22, 2019  

The Arab News cover, featuring an illustration by Malika Favre, has won eight design awards. (Arab News)
  • Arab News scooped the awards for its front page by “New Yorker” illustrator Malika Favre, which was published to mark the move to allow women in Saudi Arabia to drive
  • It has won numerous awards since its publication and been one of the most retweeted artworks celebrating women driving in the Kingdom

LONDON: Arab News has continued its success on the international awards stage by winning two honorable mentions at the DNA Paris Design Awards.

The newspaper scooped the awards for its front page by “New Yorker” illustrator Malika Favre, which was published to mark the move to allow women in Saudi Arabia to drive.

The honorable mentions were for the categories “Graphic design – Editorial” and “Graphic design – Key art (Posters, covers, illustration).”

“For Arab News to be recognised again on a global scale with this award is a great honor,” Simon Khalil, global creative director at Arab News, said. “Our women drivers cover has been recognised with eight design awards so far and this highlights just how important this moment in history was for women across the Kingdom.

“Malika Favre was the obvious choice for our cover, and her illustration brilliantly captures the significance of this moment on the day Saudi Arabia changed forever.”

The illustration was commissioned by Arab News for the cover of a special souvenir edition on June 24 of last year. It has become one of the most retweeted artworks celebrating women driving in the Kingdom.

The cover has won numerous awards since it was published. In March, it was recognized by SND awards, one of the most prestigious in the industry.

In February, the cover image was recognized in the international design awards run by “HOW” magazine.

The DNA Paris Design Awards honors international architects and designers “who improve our daily lives through practical, beautiful and innovative design,” according to its website.

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Arab News at 44: the year we made the headlines

Time: April 21, 2019

Arab News celebrates its 44th anniversary on Saturday as the biggest English-language daily in Saudi Arabia. (AN Photo)
  • Arab News celebrates its 44th anniversary with a fast-rising global readership, and a host of new digital and print offerings
  • Throughout this year, Arab News has seen a significant increase in readership in the Kingdom and around the world

JEDDAH: Arab News celebrates its 44th anniversary today as the biggest English-language daily in the Kingdom with a fast-rising readership and a commitment to maintaining the quality journalism that has been a bedrock of the paper during its long history.

Throughout this year, Arab News has seen a significant increase in readership in the Kingdom and around the world, with new digital and print offerings, including the launch of the Pakistan edition, spearheading the newspaper’s global and digital expansion. A series of online and print elements — including Road to 2030, The Face, The Space, The Case and The Startup — draws attention globally and nationally.

A look back at the Arab News coverage that made headlines this year.

Arab News relaunch 

April 3, 2018: Arab News relaunched last year with a new design, and a new approach to stories that is better suited to the Internet age. Aside from a change in the newspaper’s masthead — the first since it began publication in 1975 — the newspaper had a radical redesign with an emphasis on elegant graphics and background facts giving richness to our stories. The relaunch — after an April Fools’ Day teaser campaign that suggested the paper would no longer be published in printed form — was announced at a gala dinner in Dubai.

Arab News

@arabnews

@arabnews at 44: A look back at how the Riyadh-based newspaper, which marks its anniversary today, grew to become “the voice of a changing region” https://bit.ly/2Vf7m7x

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Arab News Editor-in-Chief Faisal J. Abbas presents a lifetime achievement award to Khaled Almaeena, former editor-in-chief of Arab News, at the International Media Gala organized by Arab News in Dubai.
Guests take a look at Arab News souvenir edition during the International Media Gala, organized by Arab News in Dubai.

Women driving

June 24, 2018: The General Directorate of Traffic issued driver’s licenses to 10 women after a royal decree issued by King Salman in September 2017 announced the end of a decades-long ban on women driving. An iconic image of a Saudi woman driving by New Yorker magazine illustrator Malika Favre, commissioned by Arab News for the cover of its souvenir edition on June 24, was shared around the world. The design won two Awards of Excellence at this year’s Society for News Design honors. The cover image was also recognized in the international design awards run by HOW magazine. The end of the driving ban is a historic move that sends a clear message to the world that changes in Saudi Arabia under Vision 2030 are real and significant.

Prince Khaled bin Salman writes exclusively for Arab News

July 23, 2018: The world must confront Iranian aggression in a way that it failed to do in the 1930s with Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, Prince Khalid bin Salman, the then Saudi Ambassador to the US, warned in an exclusive political essay published in Arab News.

Imran Khan interview

July 26, 2018: In an exclusive interview with Arab News in July, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman Imran Khan said his country enjoyed a “very special relationship with Saudi Arabia” and he planned to nurture it further.

Hajj coverage

August 19, 2018: As part of Arab News CSR initiatives, we gave out tens of thousands of umbrellas to protect pilgrims from the sun during Hajj season. An Arab News team also covered all the major days of Hajj, including Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah. A total of 2,371,675 pilgrims performed Hajj in 2018, according to the General Authority for Statistics. The pilgrims who came from outside Saudi Arabia numbered 1,758,722, while 612,953 came from inside the Kingdom. Saudi Arabia invited more than 800 foreign media representatives to cover Hajj events.

Pope Tawadros II

Dec. 4, 2018: In an exclusive interview with Arab News Editor-in-Chief Faisal J. Abbas, Tawadros II, the 118th Pope of Alexandria, Patriarch of the See of St. Mark and leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, described events in Syria and Iraq, with the rise of Daesh, as “very painful,” and pointed out that Christians who had to seek asylum abroad were among the most affected. However, his concerns extended beyond the plight of Christians alone, and he argued that a “weakening of Arab countries” means “the weakening of Arabs as a whole … Christians and Muslims alike.”


As part of Arab News’ CSR initiatives, the newspaper gave out tens of thousands of umbrellas to protect pilgrims from the sun at Hajj 2018.

Winter at Tantora

Dec. 20, 2018: The northern Saudi city of Al-Ula hosted a special season of events and festivities, as the Royal Commission for the Governorate of Al-Ula organized Winter at Tantora. The cultural festival was designed to showcase the wonders of Al-Ula, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to the world. It included cultural events, a spectacular equine experience, and musical performances by some of the world’s greatest artists, such as Saudi singer Mohammed Abdo, Italian opera singer Andrea Bocelli, Iraqi musicians Ilham Al-Madfai and Kazem Al-Saher, Bahrain’s Rashed Al-Majid and Iraqi artist Majed Al-Mohandes.

MBS Asia tour
Feb. 17, 2019: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s tour of Pakistan, India and China made headlines around the globe. Saudi authorities praised the outcome of the Pakistan leg of the trip, with deals worth $20 billion signed by the two nations. During his visit to India, Crown Prince Mohammed said that he expects Saudi Arabia’s investments in the country to be worth $100 billion in the next two years. The crown prince also witnessed the signing of agreements in investment, tourism, housing and information and broadcasting. In China, he met with Vice Premier Han Zheng and attended the China-Saudi cooperation forum. That was followed by a ceremony to sign agreements on petroleum, chemicals, investment, renewable energy and anti-terrorism.

50:50 by 2020

March 7, 2019: The Arab News newsroom philosophy is based on gender equality. The proportion of women working for the newspaper rose to more than a third in 2018, moving closer to the goal of a 50:50 gender-balanced newsroom by 2020, according to the Arab News “gender equality meter,” published in March. Arab News last year outlined its aim to become the first newspaper in Saudi Arabia to have a gender-balanced newsroom. The announcement was made at the opening of the inaugural Arab Women Forum at King Abdullah Economic City. The drive, referred to internally as the “50:50 by 2020” initiative, covers all the newspaper’s bureaus and areas of operation.

Faisal J. Abbas, Editor in Chief of Arab News, presents a copy of the newspaper to Pakistan President Dr. Arif Alvi on Feb. 18, 2018 on the sidelines of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Pakistan visit. (AN photo)

Saudi National Day coverage

March 7, 2019: A video produced for Saudi National Day by Arab News scooped the top prize in an international media award ceremony held in Dubai. The video was commissioned to launch the newspaper’s ‘Road to 2030’ section which encompasses a series of reports focusing on tracking the progress and reforms happening in the Kingdom, such as allowing women to drive and reopening cinemas. The online video category at the WAN-IFRA Middle East Awards was the latest award given to the Saudi Arabian English-language daily since its relaunch in April 2018, after picking up silver in the “redesigned product category” at the WAN-IFRA Print Innovation Awards, held in Berlin on Oct. 9.

Preachers of Hate

March 25, 2019: Arab News in March launched Preachers of Hate — a weekly series, published in print and online, in which we profile, contextualize and analyze extremist preachers from all religions, backgrounds and nationalities. Subjects include the Saudi cleric Safar Al-Hawali, the Egyptian preacher Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, the American-Israeli rabbi Meir Kahane, the Yemeni militia leader Abdul Malik Al-Houthi, and the US pastor Terry Jones, among others.

Sharqiah Season
March 14, 2019: The Sharqiah Season, a 17-day festival in Eastern Province cities, delivered extensive entertainment for both Saudis and visitors to the Kingdom. Key events included the Red Bull Air Race and the Formula 1 H20 boat event, as well as concerts by Akon, Deadmau5, Pitbull and French Montana.

First anniversary of cinemas
April 18, 2019: Arab News marked the first anniversary of cinemas opening in Saudi Arabia. As part of the country’s Vision 2030 program of reforms, Saudi Arabia lifted a 35-year ban on cinemas, paving the way for theater chains to unveil ambitious plans to open hundreds of cinemas across the nation in the next decade. The Saudi government announced that SR131 billion ($35 billion) will be invested in cinema and theater construction, mainly in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam. The Kingdom’s cinema industry — which will serve a population of more than 32 million, most of whom are under the age of 30 — is expected to generate $1.5 billion in annual revenue by 2030.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi youth must be on crest of wave for change

18/04/19

I have noticed recently that in every social setup the most dominating conversation in the room is “the wave of change in Saudi Arabia,” where the youth have become seekers of knowledge and innovation in a bid to ride the wave.

However, the real question is why has the Kingdom developed from a society that had always been programmed into a certain system, into one that is moving out of its comfort zone in the pursuit of growth?

I genuinely believe that young people have matured to understand the potential we have as a country and when this type of awareness hits home, not even the sky is the limit.

Nevertheless, the reality is that change is never easy. Some heavyweight challenges are in the pipeline and the youth will require patience.

History reveals that Saudi Arabia is not alone in meeting the challenge of change. In every developed country in the world, whether in Europe, Asia, the US or the Middle East, there was always a point where change seemed almost impossible. But then suddenly the struggle and patience paid off. The UAE is a prime example.

It is crucial that the country invests not only in the economy but also in its human relationships with the rest of the world, with the Saudi youth riding the crest of the wave.

Nada Al-Tuwaijri

The world perceives the UAE as a well-advanced country with huge economic potential in areas such as entertainment, science, culture, medicine and technology through its many strategic partnerships in key global markets. And it would seem the country has always been that way.

Yet the perception reflects enormous efforts to position the UAE on the global stage and proves that change is possible in a relatively short time with the right mindset, collaboration and sense of unity.

It is reassuring to know that the UAE shares the same values, culture and beliefs as Saudi Arabia which also has very similar potentials.

Regardless of the similarities the Kingdom might share with neighboring countries, Saudi Arabia has its own unique identity.

As the nation travels on its historic journey of change, it is only a matter of time before it reaches its desired level of growth. It is crucial that the country invests not only in the economy but also in its human relationships with the rest of the world, with the Saudi youth riding the crest of the wave.

 

• Nada Al-Tuwaijri is an adviser at the Saudi Ministry of Media.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News’ point-of-view

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