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CAIRO, April 12, 2018 (MENA) - Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry headed for Saudi Arabia Thursday to take part in preparatory meetings of the 29th Arab Summit, scheduled to be held in Dammam city on Sunday. During their meeting, Arab foreign ministers will discuss the latest development in the Middle East region, particularly the situation in Palestine, Syria, Libya, Yemen and Iraq. The top Arab diplomats will also tackle efforts exerted to counter terrorism and strengthen joint Arab action to prevent any foreign interference in the domestic affairs of Arab countries. The Arab foreign ministers will confer with UN Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura to discuss the political and humanitarian situation in Syria. Shoukry will hold meetings with his Arab counterparts to discuss means of boosting bilateral relations and the latest developments at the regional and international levels.

DUBAI/GENEVA, April 4, 2018 (Reuters) - Yemen’s Houthi group hit a Saudi oil tanker off the main port city of Hodeidah on Tuesday, the Saudi-led coalition said, in an attack that could complicate a new United Nations push to end a war that has killed more than 10,000 people.

The Iranian-aligned Houthis said they had targeted a coalition warship in response to an air strike on Hodeidah on Monday that killed at least a dozen civilians, including seven children.

Tensions have been rising in recent days after the Houthis, who control most of northern Yemen, launched a series of missile strikes on Saudi Arabia, including the capital Riyadh, in recent days.

In a statement carried by Saudi media, the coalition said the oil tanker was in international waters when it came under “Houthi-Iranian attack” at around 1330 local time (1030 GMT).

A coalition warship conducted a “swift intervention” foiling the attack, it said, without identifying the type of weapon used in the assault. “As a result of that attack, the tanker was subjected to a slight but ineffective hit and it resumed its naval course northwards, escorted by a coalition warship,” the statement said.

A European Union naval force that operates in the region confirmed the ship was underway, adding that the crew were safe and unharmed.

The media department of the Houthi-run Yemeni military said naval forces had “targeted a battleship belonging to the coalition in response to the bombardment of displaced people in Hodeidah”. It gave no further details.

The department’s text message was referring to an air strike by the Saudi-led coalition on Monday in Houthi-controlled Hodeidah that destroyed a house and killed 12 civilians from the same family, including seven children.

A coalition spokesman said the alliance takes the report very seriously, promising a full investigation.

Last week, Saudi air defences intercepted a flurry of missiles, and falling debris caused the first death in the capital Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of supplying missiles to the Houthis, who have taken over the Yemeni capital Sanaa and other parts of the country. Tehran and the Houthis deny the charge.

Oil recovers from steep drop

LONDON (Reuters) - Oil rose on Tuesday, boosted by the prospect of a potential slowdown in US crude production growth, although higher Russian output and Saudi Arabia possibly cutting its selling prices acted as a drag.

The mood across financial markets was cautious after China announced last week it would slap extra tariffs on 128 US products, deepening a dispute between the world's two biggest economies and stoking concerns about the impact on global growth.

Brent crude futures were last up 47 cents on the day at $68.11 a barrel by 08:56 GMT, while West Texas Intermediate futures were up 39 cents at $63.40 a barrel.
Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at futures brokerage AxiTrader, said traders were wary of the fact that the market was still holding large amounts of long positions, which will need to be sold off at some stage.

“That makes prices vulnerable to bad news,” he said, pointing to rising Russian production and the likely drop in Saudi physical crude prices.

Money managers raised their bets on a sustained price rise in Brent crude to the highest level on record last week, bringing total long holdings of futures and options to the equivalent of more than 615 million barrels.

DUBAI, April 3, 2018 (Reuters) - Spying on your spouse’s phone in Saudi Arabia now carries a hefty fine and up to a year in prison, under a new law that aims to “protect morals of individuals and society and protect privacy”.

The punishment will apply to both men and women, according to a statement late on Monday by the ministry of culture.

Called the Anti-Cybercrime Law, the measure makes “spying on, interception or reception of data transmitted through an information network or a computer without legitimate authorisation” a crime. It imposes a penalty up to 500,000 Saudi riyal ($133,000), prison or both.

“Social media has resulted in a steady increase in cybercrimes such as blackmail, embezzlement and defamation, not to mention hacking of accounts”, the ministry said.

A similar law on the books in the neighbouring United Arab Emirates also bars the practice, carrying a minimum three-month prison term and 3,000 dirham ($817) fine.

The oil-rich and tech-obsessed countries are among the most avid social media users in the world.

CAIRO, March 22 (MENA) - Tourism Minister Rania el Mashat approved on Thursday recommendations submitted by the Higher Committee for Hajj and Omra to regulate the Hajj offered by tour operators for the 1439 AH pilgrimage season.

The tourism minister has assigned head of the travel agencies sector at the ministry Mohamed Shalaan to swiftly start implementing measures needed to receive applications from travel agencies willing to organise pilgrimage trips this year.

Mashat directed Shalaan to tighten control over the implementation of the Hajj programmes offered by tour operators and make sure that travel agencies are abiding by what have been agreed upon with pilgrims.

Mashat vowed to take firm action against any travel agency that will not abide by contractual obligations to citizens regarding the Hajj packages.

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