Ammon News, Panorama

Saudi family in tears as they bid farewell to housemaid of 33 years

[1/13/2018 3:31:36 PM]

AMMONNEWS - One video slowly gaining traction on social media shows the moment a Saudi family showed their loyalty toward their domestic worker as they bid her farewell at the airport after she had been with the family for more than 33 years. Saudi journalist Khalid al-Zaidan shared the video on his Twitter account where the emotionally charged gathering showed at least three generations of the family bidding the maid goodbye. The maid – who seemed frail as she was sitting on a wheelchair – could not hide her tears of sorrow over her final moments with her Saudi family. “It is worth noting that she had contributed to the service of their daughters, their children and their children’s children. These few snapshots show the final moment of loyalty and good faith,” Zaidan commented on his Twitter post. *Al Arabiya

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Indian police probe case of man ‘kidnapped’ for marriage

[1/7/2018 3:29:35 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Allegations a young engineer was kidnapped and made to marry at gunpoint are being investigated by police in one of India’s poorest states, which has a history of forced marriage of men. Video footage apparently showing Vinod Kumar being forced to go through with a wedding by his bride's family sparked the probe, police in the eastern state of Bihar said Friday. ‘Pakadua Vivah’ (forced marriage) is a practice specific to Bihar and surrounding areas, and is mainly carried out by poor families who cannot afford a dowry -- still a widespread expectation in India. A video circulated on social media shows the engineer being manhandled and forced to dress for the wedding as he pleads for freedom. “We are only performing your wedding, not hanging you,” one man is heard to shout as Kumar begs to be released. Another video shows Kumar sitting beside his bride crying while a woman, apparently an in-law, tries to console him. Lalan Mohan Prasad, a local officer, told AFP police had contacted Kumar and offered their help but he had not formally complained. Local media quoted the engineer as saying one of the bride's relatives had pointed a pistol at him after they met at a mutual friend's wedding and ordered him to marry her. Since the incident, he has reportedly escaped and returned to his home in neighboring Jharkhand state. Bihar has a long-held reputation for lawlessness and gang violence, with families thought to enlist organised criminals to help them carry out abductions and forced marriages. Local social scientist Saibal Gupta said such marriages enjoyed widespread acceptance and tended to endure, given the stigma of divorce. “The frequency of such kidnappings has come down, but certainly not stopped. Poverty is still rampant,” he told AFP. Official figures show police received nearly 3,000 complaints of groom kidnapping in 2016. None of the marriages were annulled. *AFP

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Prince Harry’s wedding to Meghan Markle ‘set to boost UK economy’

[1/3/2018 3:44:18 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Prince Harry’s wedding to American actress Meghan Markle could provide a 500 million pound boost to Britain’s economy as tourists flock to the country and Britons celebrate, according to an estimate. Harry, Queen Elizabeth’s grandson and fifth-in-line to the throne, will tie the knot with Markle on May 19 at Windsor Castle, the royal palace home of British kings and queens for almost 1,000 years. According to the Office for National Statistics, the wedding of Harry’s elder brother William to wife Kate in April 2011 led to an increase of 350,000 visitors to the UK compared to the same month the year before and business valuation consultancy Brand Finance predicted a similar surge in May. In total, it estimates the nuptials will generate some 500 million pounds ($680 million). “We think approximately 200 million pounds will come from tourism, travel, hotels,” the company’s chief executive David Haigh told Reuters. About 150 million pounds would be spent on people having parties and celebrating with 50 million coming from people buying T-shirts, hats and other commemorative items, he said. The wedding would also be worth about 100 million pounds in free advertising for Britain around the world, he added. Hollywood sparkle Businesses in Windsor are already gearing up to take advantage of the worldwide interest in the couple, with Harry, 33, one of the most popular members of the British royal family and Markle, 36, best known for her starring role in the TV legal drama “Suits”, providing some Hollywood sparkle. “It’s going to be a massive boost for the economy, it’s going to be great to see so many people here for the wedding and actually to host the wedding itself,” said Andrew Lee, manager of the Harte and Garter hotel opposite Windsor Castle. British tourism bosses are already predicting 2018 to be a bumper year for the industry, aided by a fall in the value of the pound since the 2016 vote to leave the European Union which has attracted visitors and deterred Britons from vacationing abroad. VisitBritain, the national tourism agency, estimates that 41.7 million visits from overseas will be made to the United Kingdom in 2018, generating 26.9 billion pounds in the process. *Reuters

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Woman who swallowed over 1kg of cocaine held in Thailand

[12/30/2017 2:47:56 PM]

AMMONNEWS - A 27-year-old woman from the Ivory Coast has been arrested on the Thai island of Phuket after an airport X-ray found more than one kilogram of cocaine in her stomach wrapped in scores of small packets. The woman was stopped by officials late Wednesday night at Phuket's international airport after landing on a flight from Doha. An X-ray revealed more than 60 small packages in her stomach, filled with 1.2 kilogrammes (2.6 pounds) of cocaine, according to Sirinya Sitdhichai, secretary-general of Thailand's Office of Narcotics Control Board. The drugs were likely bound for wealthy clients in Bangkok, he added. “Unlike methamphetamine, cocaine and ice (crystal meth) are for a very niche group of rich customers,” he told AFP. He said drug traffickers based in West Africa routinely hire African or Asian woman as “mules” to smuggle narcotics into Thailand, a country whose porous borders and air links make it a popular transit stop for all kinds of contraband. Harsh drug laws Smugglers often fly into smaller airports outside Bangkok and then travel by road to sell the drugs in the capital, he added. Thailand, a country of roughly 68 million, has the world's sixth largest prison population thanks to harsh drug laws that were enacted more than a decade ago but have failed to dismantle the narcotics trade or dent addiction rates. More than 70 percent of the kingdom's convicts are jailed on drug-related offences. The proportion is even higher among the 39,000 female prisoners in Thailand, which jails more women per capita than any other nation. Yet while couriers and other low-level smugglers are routinely arrested, authorities have struggled to take down kingpins and dismantle their trafficking networks. The most popular drug in the kingdom is meth consumed in the form of caffeine-laced tablets known as “yaba”, which means “crazy medicine”. The pill, and a more potent and pure version known as “ice”, are churned out in drug labs in the Golden Triangle Zone where northern Thailand meets Myanmar and Laos. *AFP

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Majority of women in Saudi Arabia ready to drive from June 2018, poll finds

[12/20/2017 2:39:51 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Some 70% of women in Saudi Arabia are most likely to drive once they are allowed to take the wheel in June 2018. A recent study by Ipsos showed that the most prominent methods of transportation for women in the Kingdom are either to be driven by a male member of the family or through the use of ride-hailing apps. At least one in five households also have a hired household driver. With a Royal decree allowing women to drive, the Ipsos study showed that many changes will take place impacting households, both genders, the economy, automotive brands, and many more. The majority of Saudis (63%) were pleased with the decree. They believe that lifting the ban on women driving has a positive impact on modernizing Saudi Arabia and increased independence for them. But, many also feel there will be negative implications on issues related to traffic and road safety, as well as increased harassment of women on the street. On the other hand, the majority of women state that they will start driving once the ban is lifted and that they are inclined to buy new cars to accommodate for the increase on the household’s demand on transport needs. However, males will remain the decision-makers when it comes to car purchases within the household, but women will have a big say. One in two households which currently have a hired driver expect to stop hiring. *Saudi Gazette

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Saudi man detained for immoral Snapchat post turns out to be mentally ill

[12/16/2017 4:07:56 PM]

AMMONNEWS - A 26-year-old Saudi man who was detained on Thursday by security forces because he promoted debauchery and immorality and mocked breast cancer patients via the app Snapchat turned out to be mentally ill, sources confirmed to The young man was identified as A. Al-Hameed. He was detained once before in October 2016 for insulting religion and making improper remarks. In a statement published on Thursday, the police said it detained Hameed for violating public ethics. It added that after interrogating him, they learnt he has mental problems and transferred the case to the relevant authorities. *Al-Arabiya

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Girls of Jeddah care for stray animals in trouble

[12/10/2017 8:07:50 AM]

AMMONNEWS - Philanthropy by some people is not limited to humans alone but extends to animals. The passion for doing good has encouraged many young men and women to care for stray animals. This is what Sarah Abdel Fattah did when she converted one of her rooms into a small clinic where she treats infected stray animals. "We lived with pets since childhood. I am the oldest of seven siblings, and the youngest of us in the sixth grade. We saw our parents helping pets in our neighborhood, bringing them home and helping them receive treatment. Once my father owned a large house, he dedicated a special room for pets› care, which helped us develop our compassion for animals," said Sarah. The operation grew big and Sarah's veterinarian who treats her pets became a contributing member of the initiative. When the doctor learned that what they were doing was not for profit, he decided to treat the pets for small amounts of money. Sarah refused to push her humanitarian work on social networking sites for fear of increasing demand. "We can't increase our workload as we are busy and will not be able to meet the needs of all, so we decided to keep the project between relatives and neighbors. We already are receiving lots of cats," she added. Bashayer Al-Samadani is another girl who established a voluntary project to treat animals in need of care. She wanted make her project a humanitarian initiative in a society that doesn›t pay much attention to animals. "The idea started when we came across the accounts for four volunteer teams taking care of pets in Riyadh and Dammam. There is no such thing in Jeddah. So my friend and I decided to set up a volunteer account for pets," she said. "By coincidence we also found a Twitter account that adopted pets, especially domestic cats whose owners throw them in the street, and after treatment we give them to those who wish to adopt," said Bashayer. Her team set up three years ago has now six volunteers. They found many donors who are contributing to cat care. Bashayer and her friends called their group "Pets in Need." *Saudi Gazette

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