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Michael Smith was sentenced by a Dubai court in 2012 to 12 years in prison, but his sentence was later reduced to six years (AFP)

The UK has been urged to place pressure on the United Arab Emirates to release 14 individuals who are being kept in arbitrary detention despite having served their full prison sentences.

More than a dozen British politicians, including Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran and Conservative Desmond Swayne, signed onto a petition launched by the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor, the rights group reported on Sunday.

“Today, along with 15 senior Parliamentarians, we are highlighting the case of UK national Michael Smith who is being held in prison despite being already given a pardon and having completed his sentence,” Dr Tanya Newbury-Smith, a British academic and a trustee of the rights monitor, said in a statement.

According to the rights group, Smith, 54, has been detained without any legal basis for more than…


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Dubai’s Princess Latifa al-Maktoum said in a video published in March 2018 that she had run away (Screengrab)

Footage made public by the BBC on Tuesday showed Dubai’s Princess Latifa describing herself as a “hostage” of her father, UAE Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

In the clips, which were filmed in secret on a mobile phone, the 35-year-old princess speaks with her back to a wall in a locked bathroom: “I’m a hostage, I’m not free. I am imprisoned in this jail. My life is not in my hands.”

It is the latest development in a years-long string of headline-grabbing stories involving Dubai’s ruling family and its patriarch, Sheikh Mohammed.

In 2018, Princess Latifa escaped…


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Smoke billows during clashes between forces loyal to Yemen’s Saudi-backed government and Houthi rebel fighters in al-Jadaan area about 50 kilometres northwest of Marib in central Yemen (AFP)

Houthi drones struck two Saudi airports on Monday, according to claims made on Twitter by the Iran-aligned group.

Houthi military spokesman Yahya Sarea tweeted that the attacks on Monday morning had stopped operations at airports in Jeddah and Abha for two hours.

Riyadh has so far not commented on the Houthi claims.

In the early hours of Monday morning, a spokesperson for the Saudi-led coalition said it had intercepted and destroyed a “bomb-laden” drone fired towards the kingdom, according to a statement published by the Saudi Press Agency.

An apparent Houthi drone attack on Abha airport on Wednesday left an…


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US State Department spokesman Ned Price speaks at his first daily news briefing at State Department on 2 February (AFP/File photo)

Recently cemented normalisation deals between several Arab countries and Israel cannot replace peace negotiations with the Palestinians, a US State Department spokesman says.

In his first official news conference, State Department spokesman Ned Price stressed that while the previous administration’s work to establish the normalisation deals is welcomed as progress, advancing peace between Israel and the Palestinians remains a priority.

‘The suspension of aid to the Palestinian people has neither produced political progress nor secured concessions from the Palestinian leadership’

- Ned Price, US State Department

“While we support normalisation between Israel and countries in the Arab world, it’s also not a substitute for Israeli-Palestinian peace, and that’s very important,” Price said during Tuesday’s briefing.

“We hope that as Israel and other countries in the region…


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Dozens of activists rallied outside office of Congressman Gregory Meeks to protest war in Yemen (MEE/Kawthar Abdullah)

In what is being described as one of the biggest coordinated anti-war efforts since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, campaigners from 230 organisations and 17 countries are holding a series of rallies on Monday to demand an end to the war in Yemen.

Demonstrations took place in several US cities — including New York, neighbouring Newark, and San Francisco — while the former leader of the UK’s Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, actor and activist Danny Glover and prominent academic Cornel West attended an online rally,

Yemeni Americans at the forefront of the campaign told Middle East Eye that they wanted…


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Road sign in honour of slain journalist Khashoggi temporarily put up by protesters in front of White House after his death (AFP/file photo)

A member of the Washington, DC City Council introduced legislation that would see slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi honoured with a road in the US capital named after him.

Councilmember Brooke Pinto introduced the legislation on Thursday, calling Khashoggi, who was a resident of the district, “a fierce advocate for democracy, human rights, and the rule of law”.

Khashoggi, a critic of Saudi Arabia and columnist for the Washington Post and Middle East Eye, was killed by Saudi agents on 2 October 2018 after entering the kingdom’s embassy in Istanbul.

The road set to be named in his honour — Jamal Khashoggi Way — runs right in front of Saudi Arabia’s embassy, so that “everyone who visits the Saudi embassy will be reminded of Mr Khashoggi’s courage”, Pinto said…


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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launches ‘The Line’ as part of the multi-billion dollar Neom megacity project (Screenshot)

Saudi Arabia has launched an ambitious plan to construct a zero-carbon city built in a 170km straight line, the first major construction project for the $500bn futuristic megacity Neom.

On Sunday, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched “The Line”, which forms part of the kingdom’s Vision 2030 strategy to diversify its economy and move away from its reliance on oil.

The Line will have no cars or roads and will be populated by one million residents from around the world.

“Why should we sacrifice nature for the sake of development? Why should seven million people die every year because of…


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While bin Salman may feel the cuts will ingratiate himself with the US, they may not be universally welcomed in Washington (AFP)

Saudi Arabia has pledged additional, voluntary oil output cuts of one million barrels per day (bpd) in February and March as part of a deal under which most Opec+ producers will hold production steady in the face of new coronavirus lockdowns.

The surprising move, which boosted Brent oil prices by almost 5 percent to above $53 per barrel, will benefit struggling shale producers in the United States, who need higher prices to make their businesses viable.

Two Opec+ members, Russia and Kazakhstan, will also be allowed to bump up their output by a combined 75,000 bpd in February and a…


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The aftermath of an explosion in Yemen (AFP/FILE)

Five women were killed when a shell hit a wedding venue in Yemen’s Hodeidah city on New Year’s Day, officials said on Saturday.

The government and the Houthi movement have blamed each other for the blast in the port city, which came just two days after at least 26 people were killed in explosions that rocked the airport of the southern city of Aden as members of a newly formed government got off a plane from Saudi Arabia.

The wedding hall was near Hodeidah’s airport, a front line between the warring sides, on the edge of the rebel Houthi-held city.


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Dozens of female activists protested in Taiz city demanding women be given positions in the cabinet (MEE)

The swearing in of a new government in Yemen on Saturday has caused controversy and protests after no women were included in the 24-member cabinet, a situation that has not arisen for 20 years.

President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi swore in the new government, which was formed following a power-sharing deal brokered by Saudi Arabia last year, in Riyadh, where he is living.

The government is the first cabinet in which ministries are divided between the separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC) and Yemen’s internationally recognised government.

Yemen has been mired in conflict since a Saudi-led coalition intervened there in March…

Middle East Eye

Your eye on the ground. Independent Middle East and North Africa news

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