Saudi Arabia

Obama ending India trip early, will join world leaders to pay respects to Saudi king



U.S. President Barack Obama will shorten his trip to India so he can join other world leaders to pay respects in-person, following the death of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah on Friday.

WHITE HOUSE: Obama has decided to change his plans and travel to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to pay his respects to the new King Salman.

— Michael Skolnik (@MichaelSkolnik) January 24, 2015

Obama, who will skip a trip to the Taj Mahal, is now scheduled to arrive in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday. He will join other dignitaries, including Prince Charles, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, Japan’s Crown Prince Naruhito, Spain’s King Felipe VI, Jordan’s King Abdullah, Denmark’s Crown Prince Frederik, Dutch King Willem-Alexander, Morocco’s Prince Moulay Rachid. Read more…

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Thousands gather for Saudi king’s burial in an unmarked grave



Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud was laid to rest in an unmarked grave on Friday, his body wrapped in a simple beige cloth and interred without a coffin, according to Islamic tradition.

His successor, and half brother, King Salman, led prayers in Riyadh ahead of the burial. King Abdullah died early Friday at the age of 90 after nearly two decades in power.

State television aired the prayers, which also showed mourners paying respects to the new king, who has promised to uphold the policies of his predecessor. Read more…

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Room for improvement: 5 ways Saudi Arabia’s new king can address human rights



Saudi Arabian King Abdullah’s death Thursday ends a fourteen-and-a-half year reign that saw marginal policy changes, particularly as they relate to human rights.

Though his successor, King Salman, is no spring chicken at 79 years old, he may still be able to effect change in a country known as much for its human rights abuses as it is for its prosperous oil fields.

After news of King Abdullah’s death broke, world leaders, unsurprisingly, scrambled to offer their posthumous praise and reassert their support of the for oil-rich nation. International human rights organizations, however, have criticized the late leader for falling short on a variety of human right issues Read more…

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Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah had strong ties with U.S. leaders



Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud whodied at 90 years old on Friday, local time, had strong ties with U.S. leaders throughout his decade on the throne.

The Saudi leader was named crown prince in 1982 and officially took power when his brother, King Fahd bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, died in 2005. His 79-year-old half-brother Salman bin Abdul Aziz has already succeeded him

Despite cultural differences, U.S. political leaders have maintained a close alliance with the Islamic monarchy since 1933. Abdullah bolstered these ties by cracking down on al-Qaeda terrorists after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and lending support to U.S.-led airstrikes against the Islamic State (ISIS). Read more…

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Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah is dead at 90



Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has died, according to the state-run Saudi Press Agency.

He has been succeeded by his brother, 79-year-old Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz

The Royal Court is in mourning following the 90-year-old’s death. “God bless the deceased,” the press agency tweeted.

الديوان الملكي ينعي الأمة الإسلامية والعربية بوفاة خادم الحرمين الشريفين الملك عبدالله بن عبدالعزيز آل سعود- رحم الله فقيد الأمة

— واس (@spagov) January 22, 2015

King Abdullah had been hospitalized for several weeks due to a lung infection, according to the BBC. He died Friday at 1 a.m. local time. Read more…

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Flogging of Saudi blogger is postponed again as doctors raise health concerns



The flogging of a Saudi blogger will not occur as scheduled on Friday because a team of doctors is concerned for the man’s health, three people familiar with the situation tell Mashable.

The blogger, Raif Badawi, was arrested in 2012 after writing articles critical of Saudi Arabia’s clerics on a liberal blog he created, which has since been shut down. He was found guilty of breaking Saudi Arabia’s technology laws and insulting Islamic religious figures through the website.

He was sentenced in 2013 to seven years in prison and 600 lashes, but after an appeal the judge stiffened the punishment in May to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes. Badawi was also fined 1 million Saudi riyals, or roughly $266,000. Read more…

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Saudi blogger’s flogging punishment put on temporary hold



The public flogging of a Saudi blogger convicted of insulting Islam was postponed on Friday, after a doctor concluded that his initial wounds from the first round of lashes had not yet healed.

Amnesty International said authorities delayed administering 50 new lashes to Raif Badawi in a case that has caused international outrage for its barbarity

Badawi was taken to a prison clinic in the morning for a check-up, and the doctor found that “he would not be able to withstand another round of lashes at this time,” according to the NGO. His case has been referred to Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court for review, the BBC reported, citing Badawi’s wife. Read more…

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Saudi blogger to be publicly flogged for insulting Islam



A Saudi blogger who was sentenced last May to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes will be publicly flogged for the first time after Friday prayers outside a mosque in the Red Sea coastal city of Jiddah, a person close to his case said Thursday.

Raif Baddawi was sentenced on charges related to accusations that he insulted Islam on a liberal online forum he had created. He was also ordered by the Jiddah Criminal Court to pay a fine of 1 million Saudi riyals, or about $266,000.

Rights groups and activists say the case is part of a wider clampdown on dissent throughout the kingdom. Officials have increasingly blunted calls for reforms since the region’s 2011 Arab Spring upheaval. Read more…

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Saudi airline rep denies plan to separate men and women on flights



Saudia Airlines, the state-run airline of Saudi Arabia, does not have plans to separate passengers based on gender, according to an airline source quoted in stories claiming the opposite.

Several Gulf area and UK media outlets reported that the airline planned to seat unrelated men and women after receiving complaints.

“There are solutions to this problem,” Abdul Rahman Al Fahd, an assistant marketing manager for Saudia, was quoted as saying to Saudi Arabia daily Ajel. “We will soon enforce rules that will satisfy all passengers.” Read more…

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Saudi Arabia extends detention of women arrested for driving, relative says



DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Two Saudi women detained nearly a week ago for violating the kingdom’s female driving ban were ordered held for 25 more days on Sunday, a relative said.

The women, who were arrested Dec. 1 after driving into Saudi Arabia from the United Arab Emirates, are supporters of a grassroots campaign launched last year to oppose the ban. The two women have a combined Twitter following of more than 355,000.

Organizers behind the Oct. 26 campaign say the ban on women driving underpins wider issues regarding guardianship laws in Saudi Arabia that give men powerful sway over women’s lives. Read more…

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