US warns of environmental disaster from cargo ship hit by Houthi rebels

1 / 2
In this satellite image provided by Planet Labs, the Belize-flagged bulk carrier Rubymar is seen in the southern Red Sea near the Bay Al-Mandab Strait leaking oil after an attack by Yemen's Houthi militia on Feb. 20, 2024. (Planet Labs PBC via AP)
2 / 2
In this satellite image provided by Planet Labs, the Belize-flagged bulk carrier Rubymar is seen in the southern Red Sea near the Bay Al-Mandab Strait leaking oil after an attack by Yemen's Houthi militia on Feb. 20, 2024. (Planet Labs PBC via AP)
Short Url
Updated 24 February 2024
Follow

US warns of environmental disaster from cargo ship hit by Houthi rebels

  • The Belize-flagged Rubymar was damaged Sunday by a missile strike claimed by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels
  • It was transporting 41,000 tons of fertilizer when it was attacked, says Roy Khoury, the CEO of Blue Fleet CEO

WASHINGTON: A cargo ship abandoned in the Gulf of Aden after an attack by Yemeni rebels is taking on water and has left a huge oil slick, in an environmental disaster that US Central Command said Friday could get worse.

Rubymar, a Belize-flagged, British-registered and Lebanese-operated cargo ship carrying combustible fertilizer, was damaged in a Sunday missile strike claimed by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels.
Its crew was evacuated to Djibouti after one missile hit the side of the ship, causing water to enter the engine room and its stern to sag, said its operator, the Blue Fleet Group.
A second missile hit the vessel’s deck without causing major damage, Blue Fleet CEO Roy Khoury told AFP.
CENTCOM said the ship is anchored but slowly taking on water and has left an 18 mile oil slick.
“The M/V Rubymar was transporting over 41,000 tons of fertilizer when it was attacked, which could spill into the Red Sea and worsen this environmental disaster,” it said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.
The ship’s operator said Thursday the ship could be towed to Djibouti this week.
Khoury said the ship was still afloat and shared an image captured on Wednesday that showed its stern low in the water.
When asked about the possibility of it sinking, Khoury had said there was “no risk for now, but always a possibility.”
The attack on the Rubymar represents the most significant damage yet to be inflicted on a commercial ship since the Houthis started firing on vessels in November — a campaign they say is in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza during the Israel-Hamas war.
The Houthi attacks have prompted some shipping companies to detour around southern Africa to avoid the Red Sea, which normally carries about 12 percent of global maritime trade.
The UN Conference on Trade and Development warned late last month that the volume of commercial traffic passing through the Suez Canal had fallen more than 40 percent in the previous two months.
 


Ending Mideast conflict not a priority for most Americans: Survey

Updated 4 min 54 sec ago
Follow

Ending Mideast conflict not a priority for most Americans: Survey

  • 83% of respondents say Biden should focus on domestic policy
  • 31% say supporting Israel should be given no priority

Chicago: A majority of Americans do not see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a foreign policy priority, according to two new concurrent surveys by the Pew Research Center. 

Americans identified as their top four of 22 foreign policy priorities protecting the country from terrorism (71 percent), reducing illegal drugs (64 percent), preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction (63 percent) and maintaining a military advantage over foreign powers.

Finding a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict drew 29 percent, ranking only 14th among the 22 priorities.

The question of “supporting Israel” ranked even lower at 20th with 22 percent, with 31 percent opposing that support.

“Overall, a majority of Americans say that all 22 long-range foreign policy goals we asked about should be given at least some priority. Still, about three in 10 say supporting Israel, promoting democracy in other nations (28 percent) and supporting Ukraine (27 percent) should be given no priority,” Jacob Poushter, Pew associate director of research, told Arab News.

“Even with these priorities, 83 percent of Americans say it is more important for President Joe Biden to focus on domestic policy, compared with 14 percent who say he should focus on foreign policy.

“In 2019, 74 percent wanted then-President Donald Trump to focus on domestic policy, and 23 percent said he should focus on foreign policy.”

Pew researchers said finding a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was previously “a priority that saw no partisan difference at all” in a 2018 survey.

But the new surveys show a “partisan gap” emerging, with twice as many Democrats (36 percent) today than in 2018 calling the conflict “a priority,” while the share of Republicans (20 percent) has remained constant.

Twenty-nine percent of Americans say they have a great deal or fair amount of confidence in the UN’s ability to provide effective humanitarian aid to Gaza. Fifty-one percent do not have confidence and 19 percent are unsure.

Only 15 percent of Americans say they have confidence in the UN’s ability to enforce a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. Sixty-seven percent have no confidence and 17 percent are unsure.

A recent Pew survey found that only 12 percent of Americans believe that lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians is at least somewhat likely.


Birthday wishes pour in for Gigi Hadid

Updated 21 min 52 sec ago
Follow

Birthday wishes pour in for Gigi Hadid

DUBAI: US Dutch Palestinian model Gigi Hadid turned 29 this week and the fashion and beauty crowd took to Instagram in droves to wish her a happy birthday.

Hadid’s younger sister, Bella Hadid, kickstarted the well wishes with a heartwarming message alongside a carousel of photos of the sisters, including several childhood snaps.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Bella (@bellahadid)

“Happy birthday princess of Genovia, I love you so much,” Bella captioned her Instagram post. “Life without you would be nothing, I would be nothing! You inspire me and make me feel strong.

“Watching you give birth and then raise the most perfect angel is the most magical gift a sister could ask for,” Bella wrote to the mother-of-one. “I feel so lucky. You are the best and coolest mama, best sister, best daughter, and best friend. Anyone who has the privilege to be in your orbit is lucky. I love you sissy, you make me feel proud to be your sister.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Bella (@bellahadid)

Leading designers also took to the photo-sharing social media platform to celebrate the birthday girl, including Donatella Versace who wrote: “Happy Birthday to you, my girl @gigihadid. You are beautiful inside and out, Gigi. I hope you have the best day celebrating with Khai and all your loved ones. You deserve the best, always.”

Khai is Hadid’s three-year-old daughter with British singer Zayn Malik.

Fellow model Lily Aldridge, British designer and TV personality Tan France, stylists Elizabeth Sulcer and Gabriella Karefa-Johnson, celebrity makeup artist Partick Ta and many more all took to Instagram Stories to share touching messages.

Also paying tribute to the catwalk star on her special day was her father, Palestinian real estate mogul Mohamed Hadid, who shared a thoughtful birthday message on his feed.

“Happiest birthday to my beautiful smart elegant loving caring talented mother sister daughter one can ever be. Happy birthday my love,” he wrote. 

Hadid has been occupied with her fashion label, Guest In Residence. Just last week, she unveiled the Spring/Summer collection both online and in stores. The collection introduces the brand’s inaugural cotton and silk blends, along with lightweight cashmere options.


King Khalid Foundation, TATA sign pact to promote sustainable digital practices

Updated 31 min ago
Follow

King Khalid Foundation, TATA sign pact to promote sustainable digital practices

  • University students urged to present proposals for ‘Sustainathon’ contest

RIYADH: The King Khalid Foundation has signed a cooperation agreement with TATA Consultancy Services to promote sustainable digital practices among university students in Saudi Arabia.

The initiative is called “Sustainathon” and aims to help students design projects that would assist in this field, according to a statement released by the foundation on Monday.

For three months, the King Khalid Foundation and the TCS will be running online seminars to help “Sustainathon” competitors with their proposals.

At the end of the period, the students will be required to present their ideas to a panel of judges.

Prizes will be awarded based on adherence to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, as well as practical applications.

During the signing ceremony, the King Khalid Foundation was represented by its CEO Princess Nouf bint Muhammad bin Abdullah Al-Saud. The TCS was represented by its President and Regional Director for the Middle East and Africa Sumanta Roy.

The King Khalid Foundation and the TCS aim to develop cooperation between stakeholders in the private and not-for-profit sectors through information exchange and the sharing of expertise.

The King Khalid Foundation was established in 2001 as an independent national non-profit body. Its vision is to develop a prosperous society rooted in equality and sustainability.


Oil Updates – prices climb amid US stocks decline, Middle East conflict

Updated 42 min 56 sec ago
Follow

Oil Updates – prices climb amid US stocks decline, Middle East conflict

TOKYO: Oil prices extended gains on Wednesday after industry data showed a surprise drop in US crude stocks last week, a positive sign for demand, though markets were also keeping a close eye on hostilities in the Middle East, according to Reuters

Brent crude futures rose 26 cents, or 0.29 percent, to $88.68 a barrel and US West Texas Intermediate crude futures climbed 26 cents, or 0.31 percent, to $83.62 a barrel at 9:34 a.m. Saudi time.

US crude inventories fell 3.237 million barrels in the week ended April 19, according to market sources citing American Petroleum Institute figures. In contrast, six analysts polled by Reuters had expected a rise of 800,000 barrels.

Traders will be watching for the official US data on oil and product stockpiles due at 5:30 p.m. Saudi time for confirmation of the big drawdown.

US business activity cooled in April to a four-month low, with S&P Global saying on Tuesday that its flash Composite PMI Output Index, which tracks the manufacturing and services sectors, fell to 50.9 this month from 52.1 in March.

“This could help convince policy makers that rate cuts are required to support the economy,” ANZ analysts said in a note.

US interest rate cuts could bolster economic growth and, in turn, demand for oil from the world’s top consumer of the fuel.

Analysts were still bullish that any latest developments in conflicts in the Middle East will still support markets, though the impact on oil supplies remains limited for now.

“Overall, crude oil prices are well supported around current levels by on-going Middle East risk premium. On the topside, risk of possible renewed OPEC production increase from Jun will help limit any significant upside,” said head of markets strategy for United Overseas Bank in Singapore Heng Koon How.

“We maintain our forecast for Brent to consolidate at USD 90/bbl by end of this year,” Heng added.

Israeli strikes intensified across Gaza on Tuesday, in some of the heaviest shelling in weeks.

“Recent reports suggest that both Iran and Israel consider the current operations concluded against one another, with no follow-up action required for now,” ING analysts said in a note.

“The US and Europe are preparing for new sanctions against Iran – although these may not have a material impact on oil supply in the immediate term,” they added.
 


Saudi Arabia to face Uzbekistan in AFC U23 Asian Cup quarterfinals

Updated 24 April 2024
Follow

Saudi Arabia to face Uzbekistan in AFC U23 Asian Cup quarterfinals

  • The tournament ends on May 3 and is also a qualifying route to the 2024 Olympic Games

DOHA: Reigning champions Saudi Arabia will play Uzbekistan on Friday in the 2024 AFC U23 Asian Cup quarterfinals after the group stages concluded on Tuesday.

Uzbekistan beat Vietnam 3-0 at Khalifa International Stadium to secure the top spot in Group D. Both teams had already secured their progress to the next round. Meanwhile, Kuwait beat Malaysia 3-1 at Al-Janoub Stadium to take third place in the group.

Qatar take on Japan on Thursday, with the victors meeting either Iraq or Vietnam, who play on Friday, in the semifinals. Saudi or Uzbekistan will face the winner of Wednesday’s match between South Korea and Indonesia.

The tournament, which will end on May 3, is a route to this year’s Olympic Games which will take place in Paris this summer. The sixteen teams are split into four groups of four, with the top two from each progressing to the quarterfinals.

The winners of both semifinals secure automatic qualification, while the two losing semifinalists contest third place with the victors booking their spot in Paris. The fourth-place finishers have one final chance to qualify for the Games through a play-off against an African qualifier.