Middle East Roundup: What’s going on with Saudi Arabia and China?

And a shark attack in Egypt, Gaddafi’s fifth son on hunger strike in Lebanon. Here’s the Middle East this week.

Xi and MBS shaking hands
Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman greets Chinese President Xi Jinping in Riyadh [File: Royal Court of Saudi Arabia/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images]

Saudi Arabia is building alliances and making waves in sports. In Egypt, a tiger shark has killed a Russian swimmer and Hannibal Gaddafi is sticking to his hunger strike in Lebanon. Here’s the Middle East this week:

What’s going on with Saudi Arabia?

What’s going on with Saudi Arabia? A lot. Saudi Arabia is hosting world leaders, signing enormous deals with China and going all-in on sport. The kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund will be taking over the four largest football clubs, two of which have wooed the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and N’Golo Kante, upping Saudi football’s star power.

Saudi Arabia is also working on improvements to its tourism sector and has signed deals with China to bring in Chinese tourists. In another sign of the two countries’ increasing closeness, they signed a $5.6bn deal for the production of electric vehicles.

And Hannibal Gaddafi?

The son of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi – the late, eccentric strongman who ruled Libya for 42 years – is nearly two weeks into a hunger strike in a Lebanese prison. Who is Hannibal Gaddafi? He’s the fifth son of Muammar and his second wife, Safiya.

Known as a playboy, he has partied around the world and been in trouble just about everywhere he has been. Right now, he is on a hunger strike to protest against being held without charge in Lebanon.

Collective punishment

Israel has a policy of destroying the homes of Palestinians accused of carrying out attacks against Israelis, even if the family is renting the home from someone else. Anyone nearby is in danger of being shot, as happened with two journalists, who were reporting on a home demolition raid on Saturday in Ramallah when they were wounded.

Israeli soldiers emptied a whole apartment building and the nearby homes so they could destroy the apartment where Islam Faroukh’s family live, rendering them homeless and damaging the homes around it. Faroukh has not been proven guilty of the charges brought against him by Israel.

Egypt’s tourism woes

Egypt is known for its history, monuments, artefacts and natural beauty. Thousands of people make their way to the Red Sea every year to dive, snorkel and lounge on the white sands. But in one week, disaster struck the idyllic shores – twice.

On Thursday, a Russian man died after being mauled by a tiger shark off the coast of the Red Sea city of Hurghada. Three days later, and three hours south, in the town of Marsa Alam, three British tourists went missing after the boat they were on went up in flames. A day later, they were declared dead.

What does Europe want from Tunisia?

Tunisia has hosted a visit by EC head Ursula von der Layen, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, and they came bearing gifts, a billion euros worth. Why is Europe so invested in helping Tunisia out of its economic crisis?

Because Europe wants Tunisia to stop more refugees and migrants from trying to reach European shores and would like to declare it a “safe third country” to which it can deport people. Ignored in this calculus are the human rights abuses the Tunisian government is accused of, especially against opposition politicians.

A little something different, people being amazing

In rebel-held northwest Syria, life is hard but people figure out how to use what is around them. Meet the people who turn plastic rubbish into plastic “yarn”, used for making rugs of all shapes, sizes and designs.

For the first time ever, a woman has been chosen as president of Turkey’s central bank, as the country’s economy struggles, and the lira continues its nosedive. Observers are hoping that Hafize Gaye Erkan, a former US-based bank executive, will have a positive effect on Turkey’s policies.


Quote of the Week

“We have always firmly supported the just cause of the Palestinian people to restore their legitimate national rights.” – Chinese President Xi Jinping to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, at the start of the latter’s visit to Beijing.

Source: Al Jazeera