SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – A senior US commander says the United States defenses can intercept any ballistic missile launched by North Korea in the coming days.
Admiral Samuel J. Locklear, the commander of US Pacific Command made the remarks in an address to the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington on Tuesday.
Locklear said if the projected trajectory of a North Korean missile does not show it is a threat, the US may choose not to intercept it.
The prospects of an outbreak of war between Washington and Pyongyang have sharply risen following the participation of nuclear-capable US B-52s and B-2 stealth bombers in recent joint military drills with South Korea.
On March 11, Seoul and Washington launched their annual joint military maneuvers near the Korean Peninsula despite warnings from Pyongyang. The drills involved 10,000 South Korean soldiers and about 3,000 US troops.
On April 4, the North Korean Army said a preemptive nuclear war with the United States “could break out today or tomorrow,” warning the US to “ponder over the prevailing grave situation.”
Earlier in the day, the North Korean army said it had received final approval for a nuclear attack on the US in response to Washington’s threats.
In late March, North Korea said that its military should be prepared to attack “all US military bases in the Asia-Pacific region, including the US mainland, Hawaii, and Guam” as well as South Korea.-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — To minimise the risk of overcrowding and to lessen congestion on the roads the authorities will for the first time be operating a Chinese-built train that will call at hajj sites. The £1.1bn project has 12 miles of track and will transport 180,000 passengers, said Habib Zein al-Abideen, the assistant minister for municipal and rural affairs.
“We will have a capacity of 72,000 passengers per hour next year. This year we operate at 35% capacity. Next year we could have 500,000 to 600,000 passengers,” Abideen said. Due to its limited capacity, the train will this year only carry residents of Saudi Arabia or other Gulf Arabs and next year will open to other nationalities.
It was announced yesterday that Muslims wishing to use Mecca’s first metro when they converge on the holy city next month for their annual pilgrimage will have to pay SR250 for a ticket that will serve them for seven days.
Three different types of tickets will cover all holy sites in Mecca and will allow the pilgrims to take the train into the city to perform their rites before returning to their residence inside or outside the city, Ajel online newspaper said, quoting Habib Zain Alabidin, Undersecretary at the Saudi Ministry of Municipal affairs.
“The ticket’s price is set at SR250 (US$ 67) that will cover a full trip into and out of Mecca for seven days…another ticket is priced at SR100 (US$ 27) for four days,” he said.
Officials said last week the train has a capacity to transport 170,000 passengers in its first stage and two million when the third and final phase is completed.
Saudi Arabia has allocated nearly SR6.7 billion (US$ 1.8 billion) for the metro, which begins continuous service next month for the first time in Mecca’s history. Officials expect the project to largely contribute to easing road congestions caused by the accumulation of thousands of cars near Makkah.
Habib Zain Alabidin says the railway would operate throughout the year.
The project is part of a costly programme by Saudi Arabia to tackle massive traffic congestions in and around the city and facilitate access to all sacred sites in Mecca.
The train project, initiated three years ago, followed a series of incidents that have killed thousands of pilgrims in stampedes, building collapses and other accidents during the few days of the Haj season.
More than two million Muslims from Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Co-operation Council countries and other nations descend on Mecca every year to perform the pilgrimage.
China Railway Construction Corp, part of a Saudi-French-Chinese consortium which won the contract, is carrying out the project, involving nearly 5,000 workers. The train is the Gulf’s second metro system after the Dubai Metro.
The hajj, one of the world’s biggest displays of mass religious devotion, lasts for five days. In the past it has been marred by fires, hotel collapses, police clashes with protesters and deadly stampedes.
Islam is followed by a quarter of the world’s population and the hajj is a duty for all able-bodied Muslims who can afford it once in their lifetime. Many wait for years to get a visa. “I can’t explain the feeling of being here,” said Mahboob Bangosh, a Canadian pilgrim from Toronto of Afghan origin.— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — A recently launched corporate social responsibility program has revealed shocking facts and figures relating to the Saudi youth.
During an event held at the Jeddah headquarters of Saudi wealth management company, SEDCO Holding, results of a survey that the company has shown that 11 percent of the Kingdom’s youth keep track of their spending and 80 percent of income goes on mobile phones and travel while 46 percent rely on parents for funding big purchases.
These findings are exactly why SEDCO chose to launch “Riyali,” which addresses the need to educate the Saudi population on financial literacy and empower people with the personal financial skills required to achieve a desirable standard of living. The first phase of this program targets college students.
Announcing the program, Dr. Adnan Soufi, CEO of SEDCO Holding, said, “We have selected financial literacy as our flagship social responsibility initiative. The program aims to enable upcoming generations with crucial skills to manage their personal income.”
Riyali will reach 50,000 beneficiaries over the next five years, aiming to impact 15,000 university students in its first phase. As the program expands, other demographic groups will be included.
SEDCO employee volunteers will serve as ambassadors to train the students on Financial Literacy through a curriculum focused on basic savings, budgeting, investing, and borrowing. Sessions will be evaluated immediately upon completion and the students tested on the information and knowledge shared during the course.
Riyali will be carried out at universities using a series of interactive workshops that will bring about a change in youth behavior towards financial planning and responsibility. Hence, it will create a difference in their overall spending and saving habits.
In developing the program SEDCO partnered with Operation Hope, a leading global social empowerment non-profit organization founded in 1992 with a mission to expand economic opportunity through financial literacy education. To date, Operation Hope has served over 2 million people in the United States, Haiti, South Africa, and Morocco.
John Hope Bryant, founder and Chief Executive of Operation Hope attended the launch where he addressed the attendees explaining the importance of speaking the language of money.
“If you don’t understand the language of money and you don’t have a bank account, you are risking becoming a slave to today’s financial system” he said.
Bryant also announced that he is committed to learn Arabic within 1 year after he fell in love with the language and culture.
SEDCO Group’s investment and wealth management company, SEDCO Capital, has also contributed to the development of Riyali by helping to construct the curriculum. Its staff will be the main source of ambassadors who will give participants in the program the benefit of their expertise in the same way they advise companies and corporations but adapted for personal financial management at an individual level.
Hasan Aljabri, CEO of SEDCO Capital, said: “We here at SEDCO Capital believe that the value of any economy is the individual and he alone is able to extract the wealth of the land and use its resources to supplement technologies, industry, agriculture and various aspects of science and the arts.”
Leading educational institutions in the Kingdom, including King Abdulaziz University, Effat University, Dar Al Hekma College and the College of Business Administration, have partnered in the initiative.—www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: Al Arabiya