US airman sets himself on fire outside Israeli embassy in Washington

Police are deployed outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024, after an active-duty member of the US Air Force was critically injured after setting himself ablaze outside the diplomatic compound. (AP)
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Updated 27 February 2024

US airman sets himself on fire outside Israeli embassy in Washington

  • The man had filmed himself shouting “Free Palestine” as he lit himself on fire, according to footage shared on social media
  • In the video, the man is seen wearing military fatigues and declaring he will “not be complicit in genocide” before dousing himself in liquid

WASHINGTON: An active member of the US Air Force has died after setting himself on fire outside the Israeli embassy in Washington over the weekend in protest of the war in Gaza, the Pentagon said Monday.
Emergency responders on Sunday had rushed to the scene just before 1:00 p.m. (1800 GMT) in response to a “call for person on fire outside the Israeli Embassy,” according to a message on X, formerly Twitter, by the capital city’s fire department.
They arrived to find that officers from the Secret Service — the US law enforcement agency tasked with protecting embassies in Washington — had already extinguished the fire.
The man had filmed himself shouting “Free Palestine” as he lit himself on fire, according to footage shared on social media.
He was initially transported to hospital with “critical life-threatening injuries,” the fire department said.
An Air Force spokeswoman told AFP Monday morning that the unnamed “individual involved in yesterday’s incident succumbed to his injuries and passed away last night.”
“We will provide additional details 24 hours after next-of-kin notifications are complete.”
A spokesperson for the Israeli embassy said no staff were injured in the incident, and that the man was “unknown” to them.
In the video shared on social media, the man is seen wearing military fatigues and declaring he will “not be complicit in genocide” before dousing himself in liquid.
He then lights himself on fire while yelling “Free Palestine!” until he falls on the ground.
The video was reportedly first shared in a livestream on the social platform Twitch.
The shocking act came as protests are increasing across the United States against Israel’s actions in Gaza, where it is waging a retaliatory war for an attack on October 7 by Hamas militants.
With the death toll in Gaza nearing 30,000, according to the Hamas-run health ministry there, international pressure has been increasing on the United States to rein in its ally Israel and call for a ceasefire.

Swiss music to be highlighted at Riyadh concert

Updated 26 min 24 sec ago

Swiss music to be highlighted at Riyadh concert

  • Marc Aymon and Milla Besson performing at event

RIYADH: The Swiss Embassy in Riyadh — in cooperation with the French Embassy and Alliance Francaise — is hosting a music concert on April 18 at the Cultural Palace in Riyadh’s Diplomatic Quarter. It aims to showcase French-language Swiss music through performances by Swiss artists Marc Aymon and Milla Besson.

Born in 1982 in Sion, Switzerland, Aymon has released four albums and his music has reached audiences across South America, Iran, the US, Africa, and the French-speaking world. Aymon has performed at various concerts and festivals, including the Paleo Festival in Nyon in 2006 and 2013.

Aymon and Besson recently gave an exclusive French-language interview to Arab News in which they told of their love of Swiss culture.

Aymon said: “It (Swiss culture) represents the authenticity of nature, elegance, precision, and quality.

“Swiss culture is inspiring just about everywhere. It’s a wonderful country to leave and return to. I believe in movement. I like to be a Swiss artist who arrives on time, who is very precise and fussy, but who doesn’t hesitate to change all the plans and go through the window when all the doors remain closed.”

His passion for music has been recognized on European and global stages. He added: “It’s a passion for memory, for archives, for the emotions we all share.

“I fell in love with an old song from 1890 and thought it was beautiful before I knew it was part of Switzerland's heritage.”

Aymon will be performing for the first time in Saudi Arabia with Besson.

He added: “We’re going to be playing in a magnificent auditorium, a very large room equipped with a great sound system.

“I’m looking forward to unplugging my guitar, in total acoustic mode, (and) asking people to stop filming us with their phones to experience a moment of disarming simplicity.”

Besson, who was born in 2000, is a Swiss singer-songwriter who has been collaborating and composing with singers Aymon and Jeremie Kisling, and the duo Aliose, since 2019.

She said: “We all have important encounters that shape our lives. Marc Aymon was the first person to take my music seriously, to see in me what I didn’t dare to see, and to offer me my first stages and studio experiences. He helped me to make my mark, to become solid and free artistically.

“This is my first time in Saudi Arabia and Riyadh. Like any first time there’s a certain mystery and excitement about it. I'm looking forward to discovering this new country, its people, and its culture.”

The concert takes place at 7:30 p.m. on April 18 and tickets can be obtained from

Pakistan pacer Ihsanullah leaves for England for assessment of elbow injury

Updated 37 min 27 sec ago

Pakistan pacer Ihsanullah leaves for England for assessment of elbow injury

  • The fast bowler sustained the injury in April last year following a white-ball series against New Zealand
  • At the time, the PCB did not believe the injury was severe and the initial treatment reportedly worsened it

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan fast bowler Ihsanullah left for England on Sunday for a crucial appointment with esteemed orthopedic surgeon, Professor Adam Watts, regarding his elbow injury, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said.
The pacer sustained the injury in April last year following a white-ball series against New Zealand. At the time, the PCB did not believe the injury was severe and the initial treatment, including gym and weight work, reportedly worsened it.
Ihsanullah’s appointment is scheduled for Monday, according to the PCB. Professor Watts specializes in hand and wrist surgery, shoulder and elbow procedures, sports injuries, and trauma surgery.
“Ihsanullah’s franchise, Multan Sultans, has collaborated with the PCB to secure this appointment,” the cricket board said in a statement. “The PCB, as Ihsanullah’s parent body, will cover all expenses for his treatment and rehabilitation.”
The PCB said it would provide further updates after the assessment and diagnosis by Professor Watts.
Since April 2023, there had been almost no official updates on Ihsanullah’s injury. His case received media attention this month, when Ali Tareen, owner of Pakistan Super League (PSL) franchise Multan Sultans, accused the PCB of failing to provide “appropriate treatment” to the player.
Tareen said the franchise had borne considerable expenses for the pacer’s treatment and he would likely require another surgery.

Saudi master developer KEC inks 2 deals worth $78m for Al-Alya project    

Updated 50 min 14 sec ago

Saudi master developer KEC inks 2 deals worth $78m for Al-Alya project    

RIYADH:  Saudi master developer Knowledge Economic City Co. is set to deliver 396 residential apartments within the first phase of its mixed-use project Al-Alya, having signed two contracts.  

In Tadawul filings, the Saudi Stock Exchange-listed firm announced signing two deals with Elkhereiji Commerce and Contracting Co., totaling SR288.6 million ($77.92 million). 

The first agreement entails fully implementing contracting works for additional residential buildings in the first phase of the Al-Alya mixed-use project. This comprises a group of four houses, offering 132 apartments of various sizes valued at SR117.5 million, excluding value-added tax. 

The second contract involves the implementation of electromechanical, finishing, gardening, and site coordination works for a group of eight residential buildings valued at SR171.13 million, providing 264 apartments, as stated by the company in a statement to Tadawul. 

UNICEF hails KSrelief’s role in advancing education in Yemen

Updated 53 min 8 sec ago

UNICEF hails KSrelief’s role in advancing education in Yemen

  • Over 800,000 children thriving through Saudi educational support, reports UN fund

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia, through its aid agency KSrelief, has allocated $6.2 million to support approximately 827,000 children in Yemen, ensuring their access to quality education opportunities. This initiative was undertaken in collaboration with the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF.

UNICEF recently noted that the funding provided by KSrelief has facilitated access to public and private education for girls and boys from vulnerable groups, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Peter Hawkins, the fund’s representative to Yemen, said: “One in every four primary school-aged children in Yemen is currently out of school. Moreover, educational outcomes for those able to attend do not align with their age.

“Thanks to contributions from partners such as KSrelief, UNICEF continues to address the educational needs of vulnerable girls and boys in Yemen.”

The funding enabled over 527,000 children to participate in national final exams for the 2022-2023 academic year.

Additionally, 300,000 male and female students received school bags and recreational supplies, aimed at motivating them to return to school while alleviating the financial burden on their families.

Moreover, the Kingdom’s support through KSrelief has enhanced teaching and learning practices in classrooms by training 7,520 male and female teachers across 17 governorates.

Additionally, hygiene supplies were distributed to 71,956 children and 120 schools.

KSrelief’s assistance also facilitated UNICEF’s outreach to nearly 4.9 million individuals, including caregivers, through the implementation of five awareness campaigns. Outreach activities reached approximately 26,000 community leaders and officials, as well as 2,500 families.

KSrelief remains a steadfast partner of UNICEF, providing continuous funding for life-saving interventions that enable UNICEF to address the most critical needs of vulnerable children in Yemen, SPA stated.

Meanwhile, in Yemen’s Hajjah governorate, KSrelief’s mobile medical clinic rendered essential medical services to 2,072 beneficiaries in one month. The clinic’s diverse services included treating patients for epidemiological diseases, providing emergency care, and offering internal medicine and reproductive health services.

In the Saada governorate of Yemen, KSrelief’s ongoing projects aim to address the primary healthcare and water needs of displaced individuals in the Razih district. In one month, medical clinics operating under this initiative treated patients for various ailments, including epidemic diseases, emergencies, internal medicine issues, and reproductive health concerns.

The project also provided nursing services, surgical assistance, and medical referrals, alongside conducting waste disposal programs and supplying potable water to the district.

Saudi Arabia’s caves: more than just rock cavities

Updated 14 April 2024

Saudi Arabia’s caves: more than just rock cavities

  • Formed over millions of years and efforts to turn them into tourist sites
  • Geometric features, unique sculptures and ‘virgin’ tourist attractions

MAKKAH: Over 300 caves have been discovered in the Kingdom’s deserts. A divine gift to Saudi Arabia, these earth treasures were formed in the ground in the shape of unique geometric landmarks, natural sculptures and fascinating limestone and gypsum shapes.

Large numbers and different types of deep and superficial caves and “duhool” (caves lying below the earth’s surface) are found in the Kingdom. They formed over millions of years following the dissolution of limestone rocks due to rain and floods leaking into the ground through cracks and faults, resulting in cavities of different sizes and lengths.

Mahmoud Al-Shanti, a senior geologist specializing in caves and “duhool” at the Saudi Geological Survey, told Arab News that the SGS is working on locating caves, exploring their interiors and studying their types and formation.

He said these caves are considered a valuable natural national treasure that attract explorers, researchers and those interested in the field.

“As the lava of the volcano stops flowing in the subsoil, the last remaining quantity of the lava rushes forward, leaving behind an often regular longitudinal vacuum,” he said.

“When this quantity stops flowing and completely hardens, it creates a cave or a volcanic tubular tunnel that extends beneath the earth’s surface. Examples of this type of cavities are the Ghar Al-Habashi cave in Harrat Al-Buqum, and the Umm Jirsan cave in Harrat Khaybar, north of Madinah, which is about 1,500 meters long.”

He also talked about “duhool” and caves made of limestone rocks in the northern border areas, the central region and the eastern region of Saudi Arabia. He explained that they are called limestone caves, adding that limestone is a hardened sedimentary rock composed of sediment shells, living remnants, and dead micro and macro marine organisms. All these components gathered and accumulated on top of each other randomly under the waters of lakes and oceans over millions of years, forming rigid and coherent rock layers as a result of constant pressure and cohesion, which resulted in this type of rock called limestone rock.

He said there are other species of mammals that also live inside the caves, such as weasels and wildcats. In the Kingdom’s deserts, there are some carnivores that take shelter in caves, such as foxes, hyenas and wolves. These animals take care of their cubs inside the dark tunnels during the day and go out at night to hunt.

Tareq Mohammed is a young Saudi man in his twenties from Madinah. He specializes in cave tourism and has delved deep into geotourism in the Kingdom.

Mohammed said: “When we talk about geotourism, the first thing that comes to mind are beaches, forests, deserts, mountains, underground wells, hot springs and areas of dormant volcanoes. But Saudi Arabia is also full of monuments and caves.”

According to Mohammed, there are five basic types of cave in Saudi Arabia based on their geological division: ice caves, which are formed of ice in cold regions; marine caves formed by waves, oceans or rivers flowing into large rocks or mountains, creating large cavities over thousands of years; basaltic caves, known as volcanic caves; limestone caves; and sand caves that form inside sandy mountains.

“An example of basaltic caves is the Maker Al-Shaiheen cave, which is classified as the longest basaltic cave in the Middle East with a length of about 3,700 meters,” he said.

The cave, a long tunnel formed by volcanic lava, was made when the surface of the lava began to freeze, with the lava below ground remaining as liquid due to the high temperature.

“The lava continues to flow until it reaches the end of the tube. The dimensions of the cave vary between 4-12 meters in width and 1.5-12 meters in length,” he said.

The Maker Al-Shaiheen cave is located in the west of the Kingdom in Harrat Khaybar, Madinah region.

He added: “Al-Qarah Mountain in the eastern region is an excellent example of sandy mountains. As for limestone caves, they are formed by the dissolution of biodegradable rocks. Rainwater mixed with carbon dioxide dissolves the limestone, leaving cavities underground.

“Al-Murabba (square) cave and the Tahaleb (algae) cave are examples of limestone caves. The Tahaleb cave is characterized by moisture and the presence of some types of algae at its entrance, hence the name,” he said.

“These caves are the most beautiful in terms of their different formations and shapes, such as the different limestone stalactites and stalagmites.”

He added that the central region of the Kingdom is characterized by these types of caves, advising everyone to try cave tourism throughout the year, as the caves’ temperatures remain constant between 24-26 C.

He said that any visit should be led by a specialized guide, who will highlight the characteristics of the caves.

Firas Al-Hazabi, a tourist who is passionate about cave tourism, said it is an amazing and different experience filled with suspense and excitement, adding that these caves are not visited enough by tourists.