The United Arab Emirates recorded 1,596 new COVID-19 cases, 1,571 recoveries and four deaths over 24 hours, the country’s National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA) reported on Saturday. For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app. The country’s health authorities conducted 224,887 COVID-19 tests to determine Saturday’s numbers. The UAE now has 18,387 active coronavirus cases and a total of 554,516 diagnosed infections since the beginning of the outbreak, according to NCEMA. Total recoveries rose to 534,481 and the death toll mounted to 1,648. Saturday’s numbers indicate a slight increase from Friday’s 1,490 cases and two deaths. The UAE has vaccinated over 73 percent of its eligible population over the age of 16 and almost 80 percent of its senior citizens. The country’s vaccination drive has been steady, with over 11.9 million doses already administered. Read more: UAE vaccinates over 73 pct of people over 16 years old a..
Three people were injured when the Abadan Refinery in Iran exploded due to excessive heat on Saturday, Iranian media reported. The oil refinery, located in the city of Abadan south of Ahwaz, is the largest, oldest, and most important Iranian oil refinery. For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app. Iranian authorities said the accident was caused by increasingly high temperatures around the presence of flammable materials, which resulted in a technical malfunction followed by an explosion. The explosion occurred in the refinery’s third unit and caused a massive fire in the section, according to Iranian media. There were also reports of a huge cloud of smoke and air pollution in the city of Abadan. The Abadan Refinery has experienced several accidents in recent years due to what Iranian authorities say is a “lack of safety measures.” The refinery processes 400,000 barrels of heavy crude oil daily and turns it into petroleum products and derivatives. U..
With a reach of around 75 million in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), multimedia messaging app Snapchat is growing rapidly across the region. Based on a recent study released by its parent company, Snap Inc. the consumption rate of Snapchat in the MENA is often higher than the global average, with over 85 percent of the region’s daily users using the app’s Lenses every day. The region’s ‘Snapchat Generation’ was found to place tremendous value on their connections with family and friends, using communication and camera app tools to keep these relationships strong. For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app. “The Middle East was one of the first places we saw a real evolution of [Snapchat] stories into almost broadcast-like shows. I remember in the very early days, folks having their own weather shows, for example, on stories and that actually inspired a lot of our thinking about how stories could evolve as a format,” Snap Inc. Founder and CEO..
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank on Wednesday and Thursday as part of Washington’s efforts to build on the Gaza truce, a source briefed on the planning said on Saturday. US, Israeli and Palestinian officials have not published Blinken’s full itinerary. The State Department announced his visit on Thursday, saying he would “discuss recovery efforts and working together to build better futures for Israelis and Palestinians”. For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app. Blinken’s Middle East trip would include visit to Egypt, which mediated the Gaza truce between Israel and Hamas, as well as to Jordan, the source said. US President Joe Biden said on Thursday that Washington would work with the United Nations on bringing humanitarian and reconstruction assistance to Gaza, with safeguards against funds being used to arm Hamas, which the West deems a terrorist group. Egypt sent a delegation..
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has assured Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of the Kingdom’s support for the Palestinian cause and people, according to a readout of their phone call on Friday. According to an official statement, King Salman has also instructed Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Fahran to continue efforts at international forums to support the Palestinian position. For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app. “The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques also affirmed that the Kingdom will continue its efforts at all levels to stop the Israeli attacks on Al-Quds by communicating with all relevant parties to exert pressure on the Israeli occupation government, wishing the Palestinian people security and peace,” read an official statement on their phone call published by the Saudi Press Agency. Saudi Arabia on Friday welcomed the declaration of a ceasefire in the Gaza strip and said it appreciates the Egyptian and international ef..
Foreign airlines on Friday made preparations to resume services to Tel Aviv hours after Israel and Hamas reached a truce after the worst violence in years. While Israeli carrier El Al Israel Airlines kept flying, many international airlines including British Airways suspended flights to and from Israel’s main Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv. Others were diverted to Ramon Airport near Eilat, several hours drive away. Delta Airlines said it had suspended flights to Tel Aviv on May 12. For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app. “Delta plans to resume service from New York-JFK to Tel Aviv tonight,” a spokesperson said on Friday. “We continue to closely monitor the security situation and will make adjustments to our flight schedules as necessary.” German airline Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines and SWISS aim to resume flights to Tel Aviv on Sunday, Lufthansa said. Lufthansa had said on May 13 that it was suspending all flights to Tel Aviv due to the hostili..
US and Lebanese officials held the inaugural Defense Resourcing Conference Friday and the State Department announced $120 million in military aid for the Lebanese army. “In this virtual conference, the delegations highlighted the strength of the US-LAF partnership and discussed ways to deepen security cooperation,” the State Department said. For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app. Senior Official for Arms Control and International Security C.S. Eliot Kang headed Washington’s delegation while Lebanese army commander General Joseph Aoun led Beirut’s side. The delegations discussed the deteriorating economic, political, and humanitarian conditions affecting the Lebanese people and military, the State Department said. “The US Department of State renewed its commitment to the LAF by announcing $120 million in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) assistance to Lebanon for fiscal year 2021, subject to Congressional notification procedures, representing a $1..
Iran has hand-picked hundreds of trusted fighters from among the cadres of its most powerful militia allies in Iraq, forming smaller, elite and fiercely loyal factions in a shift away from relying on large groups with which it once exerted influence. The new covert groups were trained last year in drone warfare, surveillance and online propaganda and answer directly to officers in Iran’s Quds Force, the arm of its Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) that controls its allied militia abroad. They have been responsible for a series of increasingly sophisticated attacks against the United States and its allies, according to accounts by Iraqi security officials, militia commanders and Western diplomatic and military sources. For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app. The tactic reflects Iran’s response to setbacks - above all the death of military mastermind and Quds Force chief Qassem Soleimani, who closely controlled Iraq’s Shia militia until he was killed las..
Iran on Friday displayed a home-built combat drone that it said had a range of 2,000 km (1,250 miles), naming it “Gaza” in honor of the Palestinians’ struggle against Israel, state media reported. Iran has a large missile and drone program, regarding such weapons as an important deterrent and retaliatory force against the United States and other adversaries in the event of war. For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app. The West sees Iran’s missiles both as a conventional military threat to regional stability and a possible delivery mechanism for nuclear weapons should Tehran develop them. Iran denies trying to build nuclear arms. The Revolutionary Guards said the new drone was capable of flying for 35 hours and carrying 13 bombs and 500 kg (1,100 lbs)of electronics equipment, the state news agency IRNA reported. The head of the Revolutionary Guards, Major General Hossein Salami, said the new drone was named “Gaza” in honor “of those in that land wh..
Israeli police fired stun grenades towards Palestinians who threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at officers outside Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque on Friday, just hours after Israel and Hamas reached a ceasefire in Gaza. Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said stones were thrown at officers who were at one of the gates on standby. “Hundreds of people threw rocks and petrol bombs at police officers who responded at the scene and began dispersing the rioters,” Rosenfeld said in a statement. For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app. “Units responded and entered the Temple Mount area. They are dealing with these disturbances in order to contain the situation,” he added. A Reuters eyewitness said Palestinians threw stones and Molotov cocktails towards police near the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex, which sits atop the Old City plateau known to Muslims worldwide as al-Haram al-Sharif, or The Noble Sanctuary, and to Jews as Temple Mount. Police also h..
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers against any further rocket attacks following a cease-fire. In a speech hours after the truce took effect on Friday, he said, “if Hamas thinks we will tolerate a drizzle of rockets, it is wrong.” He vowed to respond with “a new level of force against any expression of aggression against communities around Gaza and any other part of Israel.” For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app. Israel and Hamas fought an 11-day war, their fourth since the Islamic militant group seized power in Gaza from rival Palestinian forces in 2007. Netanyahu hailed Israel’s 11-day bombardment of Palestinian armed groups in Gaza as an “exceptional success,” after a ceasefire to end the deadly conflict took effect. “We achieved our goals in the operation,” Netanyahu said, describing the campaign against Hamas and Islamic Jihad as “an exceptional success." Meanwhile, Palestinians rallied by the t..
Emergency workers on Friday recovered five bodies and rescued around 10 survivors from the rubble of what appeared to be a tunnel in Gaza hit by Israeli bombardment, medics and witnesses said. For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app. Raed al-Dahshan, deputy head of Gaza’s civil defense, said they were still sifting through the rubble to find more bodies, hours after a ceasefire ended 11 days of Israeli air strikes on the besieged coastal enclave run by Islamist movement Hamas. Read more: China welcomes Gaza ceasefire, calls for return to peace talks EU welcomes Gaza ceasefire, urges ‘political solution’ Israel approves Gaza ceasefire after nearly two weeks of violence
Romanian authorities confiscated 1,452 kilograms of heroin allegedly from Iran at a Black Sea port in one of the biggest seizures of the drug in the European Union in recent years, officials said Thursday. The heroin, which was hidden among construction materials in two containers and destined for Western Europe, and was seized on May 10 at the Port of Constanta, Romania’s anti-organized crime agency said. For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app. The agency called it a “historical seizure” and said that it was the second-largest heroin haul in the European Union in recent years. The drugs were transported by a criminal network made up of Romanian and foreign citizens, according to a statement. On Thursday, law enforcement officers searched three homes in Romania and five other raids were carried out in two Western European countries. Romania said that it had received support from a number of agencies, including U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration..
US President Biden publicly addressed the 11-day Palestinian-Israeli violence for the first time Thursday, saying there was a real chance for peace after all sides agreed to a ceasefire earlier in the day. Biden said he spoke to outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of his speech. He said the Egyptians - who have played a key mediating role - relayed that Hamas had also agreed to the ceasefire. For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app. The US president dedicated most of his four-minute speech to praising Israel and supporting Tel Aviv's “right to defend itself.” Biden also revealed that the US would replenish the so-called Iron Dome with missiles. The air-defense system is equipped with US batteries and missiles. As for the future of a solution to the decades-long Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Biden voiced his belief that there was now a “genuine opportunity” for progress toward peace. “I believe the Palestinians and Israeli..
Groups of angry Lebanese on Thursday beat up Syrian expatriates and refugees heading to the Syrian Embassy in Beirut and pelted their cars and buses with stones and sticks, outraged over what they perceive as an organized vote for President Bashar al-Assad. Meanwhile, some Syrian refugees reported being pressured to cast their ballot with threats of physical violence or confiscation of documentation that could lead to loss of refugee status, the UN refugee agency said. For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app. Assad is running for a fourth seven-year term — facing symbolic competition from two other candidates — in a vote all but guarantees to bring him back as president. The Syrian opposition, as well as Western and some Arab countries see it as a sham designed to give Assad a new mandate with a veneer of legitimacy. It also comes in violation of UN resolutions that call for a new constitution before a presidential vote. The in-country vote is exp..
Israeli media say Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Security Cabinet has approved a unilateral cease-fire to halt an 11-day military operation in the Gaza Strip. The decision came after heavy US pressure to halt the offensive. For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app. Israel and Hamas will enter a "mutual and simultaneous" Gaza truce at 2 am on Friday (2300 GMT Thursday), a Hamas official told Reuters. An Egyptian official said Israel has informed his government, which is mediating a truce, that it intends to end its military operations in Gaza. Speaking on condition of anonymity because he was discussing behind-the-scenes diplomacy, he said an announcement was expected following the Security Cabinet meeting. The official spoke shortly after Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi talked by phone with President Joe Biden. The two leaders discussed ways to stop violence in the Palestinian Territories, al-Sissi’s office said. In Washington, Wh..
The White House said Thursday that President Joe Biden had a different approach to US dealings with Israel than the Trump administration. Asked what the US could do to pressure Israel and protect the life of Palestinian children, Psaki said Israel had a right to defend itself. “I would say that what our effort has been focused on is conveying behind the scenes that certain Israel has a right to defend itself, but that it is time now to bring an end to this conflict,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told Al Arabiya during a press briefing. For all the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app. But Psaki said the Biden administration was dealing with Israel in a different manner than former President Donald Trump, who was seen as emboldening Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu to make unilateral decisions on occupied Palestinian lands. “We have certainly had a shift in our approach as it relates to our engagement with the Palestinians from the last administra..
Lebanon, whose currency has collapsed amid a deep financial crisis, is launching a scheme to obtain dollars via banks at a rate similar to levels offered by unofficial dealers. President Michel Aoun said in March that banks would be allowed to handle transactions at market rates, but the central bank has only issued mechanisms in past weeks for the exchange platform. For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app. The central bank said in a statement on Thursday that Lebanese seeking dollars could register to buy the US currency at a rate of 12,000 to the dollar from participating banks from May 21-25. They would receive the dollars on May 27, it said. It did not say whether customers would in future also be able to use the central bank’s new Sayrafa platform to receive Lebanese pounds when selling dollars at a similar rate. Until the economy was crushed by debt in late 2019, the Lebanese pound was freely traded at banks, shops and elsewhere at 1,500 to ..