Saudi: Those spreading fake news to face huge fine, 5 years’ jail

News Network
May 3,2020

Jeddah, May 3: Saudis and expats who spread rumors on social media could be jailed for up to five years and fined SR3 million ($800,000) under measures to counter false information regarding the coronavirus pandemic.

The move follows warnings by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health, Ministry of Interior, General Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques and other government entities that people should rely on trusted news sources and not third parties for information on the Kingdom’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Saudi Public Prosecutor warned that legal action will be taken against individuals who spread misinformation and rumors.

On Saturday, media spokesman for the Riyadh region police, Col. Shakir Al-Tuwaijri, highlighted a video circulating on social media in which a person spreads rumors about steps taken to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Other false claims include a planned change in curfew hours, warnings of food shortages, and a suggestion that health authorities are deliberately concealing the number of cases in the Kingdom.

In a recent case, a Riyadh resident claimed to know when worshippers will be allowed to return to the Grand Mosque.

All suspects have been arrested and face legal action, police said.

Dimah Al-Sharif, a Saudi legal counsel and member of the International Association of Lawyers, urged people to be responsible regarding content they access on social media.

“Receivers should not save such content or share it with others, and should delete it if possible since they, too, will be liable,” she said.

“Under Saudi laws to counter cyber-crime, we are not allowed to produce, prepare, send or save any unauthorized content or rumors.”

Individuals who breach regulations can be jailed for up to five years and face fines of SR3 million, as well as confiscation of the device(s) used in the crime, she said.

In addition, the judicial ruling will be published in newspapers at the offender’s expense.

The Kingdom’s Public Prosecution Office took to social media to warn users about the consequences of spreading rumors and misinformation.

@bip_ksa tweeted: “Receiving information from its official sources is a moral obligation and commitment, and legal responsibility. Do not fall victim to malicious rumors and news from anonymous sources that violate the procedures and effort, and cause terror regarding the Coronavirus, in order to avoid strict criminal accountability in this regard.”

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6 Gulf countries including UAE, Saudi Arabia back extending UN arms embargo on Iran

Agencies
August 10,2020

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Dubai, Aug 10: A six-nation bloc of Gulf Arab nations torn apart by internal strife endorsed on Sunday an extension of a United Nations arms embargo on Iran, just two months before it is set to expire.

The Gulf Cooperation Council said it sent a letter to the UN Security Council backing an extension of an arms embargo that’s kept Iran from purchasing foreign-made weapons like fighter jets, tanks and warships.

The GCC — comprised of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — alleged Iran had “not ceased or desisted from armed interventions in neighbouring countries, directly and through organisations and movements armed and trained by Iran.”

A Saudi-led coalition continues to battle Yemen’s Houthi rebels, whom the UN, the U.S. and armament experts have accused of receiving arms from Iran.

Tehran denies arming the Houthis, even as Iranian armaments and components have repeatedly turned up in Yemen.

As such, it is inappropriate to lift the restrictions on conventional weapons’ movement to and from Iran until it abandons its destabilising activities in the region and ceases to provide weapons to terrorist and sectarian organisations, the GCC said.

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesperson Abbas Mousavi condemned the GCC letter and called it an irresponsible statement that serves U.S. interests, Iranian state TV reported.

Mr. Mousavi also criticised the Gulf Arab countries for being among the “largest arms buyers in the region and the world,” even amid the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The UN banned Iran from buying major foreign weapon systems in 2010 amid tensions over its nuclear program.

That blocked Iran from replacing its ageing equipment, much of which had been purchased by the shah before the 1979 Islamic Revolution. An earlier embargo targeted Iranian arms exports.

Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal saw the UN agree to sunset the arms embargo this October.

President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the deal in 2018, part of a maximum pressure campaign that’s hurt Iran’s already-ailing economy and led to a series of escalating incidents in the Middle-East.

That the GCC offered a unified statement on Iran comes as it remains torn by the ongoing Qatar crisis, which saw Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates cut diplomatic ties and launch a boycott of the nation beginning in 2017.

Kuwait has sought to mediate the crisis, though its 91-year-old emir now is hospitalised in the U.S. suffering from an undisclosed ailment.

Amid the crisis, Qatar has had warmer ties with Iran and used its airspace while sharing a vast offshore oil and gas field with Tehran.

The small nation is home to the massive Al-Udeid Air Base, home to the forward headquarters of the US military’s Central Command. Oman, which saw its long-serving sultan die earlier this year, long has had close ties to Iran and has served as an interlocutor between Tehran and the West.

Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates long have viewed Iran far more suspiciously, accusing it of stirring up dissent among Shiite populations in the region.

The unified GCC statement comes after recent visits by outgoing U.S. special representative for Iran Brian Hook amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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Pilgrims converge on Mount Arafat for peak of hajj

Agencies
July 31,2020

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Mount Arafat, July 30: Muslim pilgrims converged Thursday on Saudi Arabia's Mount Arafat for the climax of this year's hajj, the smallest in modern times and a sharp contrast to the massive crowds of previous years.

A tight security cordon has been erected all around the foot of the rocky hill outside Mecca, also known as Jabal al-Rahma or Mount of Mercy.

Pilgrims, donning masks and observing social distancing, were brought in buses from neighbouring Mina, state television showed, as Saudi authorities impose measures to prevent a coronavirus outbreak.

They were subject to temperature checks and attended a sermon -- which state media said was translated into 10 languages -- before they set off on the climb to the summit for hours of Koran recitals and prayers to atone for their sins.

The scene was strikingly different to last year's ritual when a sea of pilgrims ascended Mount Arafat, marshalled by tens of thousands of stewards in a bid to prevent any crushes.

After sunset prayers, pilgrims will make their way down Mount Arafat to Muzdalifah, another holy site where they will sleep under the stars to prepare for the final stage of hajj, the symbolic "stoning of the devil".

It takes place on Friday and also marks the beginning of Eid al-Adha, the festival of sacrifice.

The hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam and a must for able-bodied Muslims at least once in their lifetime, is usually one of the world's largest religious gatherings.

But only up to 10,000 people already residing in the kingdom will participate in this year's ritual, compared with 2019's gathering of some 2.5 million from around the world.

"You are not our guests but those of God, the custodian of the two holy mosques (Saudi Arabia's King Salman) and the nation," Hajj Minister Mohammad Benten said in a video released by the media ministry on Wednesday.

Security cordon

A security cordon has been thrown around the holy sites to prevent any security breaches, an interior ministry spokesman said.

Riyadh faced strong criticism in 2015 when some 2,300 worshippers were killed in the deadliest stampede in the gathering's history.

But this year, those risks are greatly reduced by the much smaller crowd.

The pilgrims have all been tested for the virus, and foreign journalists were barred from this year's hajj, usually a huge global media event.

As part of the rites completed over five days in the holy city of Mecca and its surroundings, the pilgrims converged on Mount Arafat after spending the night in Mina.

A district of Mecca, Mina sits in a narrow valley surrounded by rocky mountains, and is transformed each year into a vast encampment for pilgrims.

They began the hajj on Wednesday with their first "tawaf", the circumambulation of the Kaaba, a large structure in Mecca’s Grand Mosque towards which Muslims around the world pray.

The Kaaba is draped in a black cloth embroidered in gold with Koranic verses and known as the kiswa, which is changed each year during the pilgrimage.

Pilgrims were brought inside the mosque in small batches, walking along paths marked on the floor, in sharp contrast to the normal sea of humanity that swirls around the Kaaba during hajj.

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ICA approval not needed: How UAE residents can now return

Agencies
August 12,2020

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Dubai, Aug 12: Returning UAE residents are being advised to update their personal details on the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) website in order to facilitate smooth travel back into the country.

The National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA) on Wednesday asked returning residents to visit uaeentry.ica.gov.ae and input their details - such as Emirates ID number, passport number, passport type and nationality - in order to verify the validity of their data and travel documents.

However, it also noted that the procedure for updating travellers' data is optional - and for those who wish to ensure that it is connected to the approval permit that was previously granted.

The welcome announcement heralds the second phase of the 'Residents Return Programme', through which residents will no longer require an entry permit. Instead, they will automatically be granted pre-approval without the need to submit an application.

Returning UAE residents are being advised to update their personal details on the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) website in order to facilitate smooth travel back into the country.

The National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA) on Wednesday asked returning residents to visit uaeentry.ica.gov.ae and input their details - such as Emirates ID number, passport number, passport type and nationality - in order to verify the validity of their data and travel documents.

However, it also noted that the procedure for updating travellers' data is optional - and for those who wish to ensure that it is connected to the approval permit that was previously granted.

Expatriate residents stranded abroad will no longer need entry permits issued by the ICA to enter the UAE.

As reported by Khaleej Times, starting today (August 12), expatriate residents stranded abroad will no longer need entry permits issued by the ICA to enter the UAE.

The welcome announcement heralds the second phase of the 'Residents Return Programme', through which residents will no longer require an entry permit. Instead, they will automatically be granted pre-approval without the need to submit an application.

Returning residents will still need to submit a negative Covid-19 test certificate from accredited facilities that is no more than 96 hours old to air carriers in order to travel.

All precautionary and preventive measures will also need to be followed, including adherence to approved quarantine periods as well as downloading the Al Hosn app to ensure public safety.

Returning residents will still need to submit a negative Covid-19 test certificate from accredited facilities that is no more than 96 hours old to air carriers in order to travel.

All precautionary and preventive measures will also need to be followed, including adherence to approved quarantine periods as well as downloading the Al Hosn app to ensure public safety.

Comments

Muhammad Ghayo…
 - 
Thursday, 13 Aug 2020

Hi Sir good morning
I’m Muhammed Ghayoor I want to come back in Uae Abu Dhabi
I need approval to enter the UAE please

Muhammad Ghayo…
 - 
Thursday, 13 Aug 2020

Hi Sir good morning
I’m Muhammed Ghayoor I want to come back in Uae Abu Dhabi
I need approval to enter the UAE please

Muhammad Ghayo…
 - 
Thursday, 13 Aug 2020

Hi Sir good morning
I’m Muhammed Ghayoor I want to come back in Uae Abu Dhabi
I need approval to enter the UAE please from Pakistan

Muhammad Ghayo…
 - 
Thursday, 13 Aug 2020

Hi Sir good morning
I’m Muhammed Ghayoor I want to come back in Uae Abu Dhabi
I need approval to enter the UAE please from Pakistan

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