Azhar Vadi | Cii News | 20 May 2015 / 1 Shabaan 1436
Another week, another attack on the town of Darkoush in the hinterland of Syria’s Idlib province by the Syrian regime. At least 38 people were killed and dozens more wounded on Tuesday evening.
Darkoush is no different from so many other villages in the area, besides the fact that the Al Rahma hospital, developed by the South African NGO Gift of the Givers is located there. The people of Darkoush love South Africans for this centre of mercy.
It has helped an untold number of people since its inception about two years ago and its corridors have released the bits of information providing some insight into the horrible toll this Syrian war is having on its own people.
On Tuesday evening, the Whatsapp call rang. It was Fekri Shaban, a seasoned journalist and the once bureau chief of the Aljazeera Arabic office in Turkey. He knows all about the tragedies of war. His involvement in trying to get humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees resulted in him leaving his job and now doing coordination work for the hospital from Turkey.
The rockets that hit Darkoush had just landed a few minutes earlier. He broke down and started crying as he tried to describe the immediate aftermath of yet another regime attack.
“It’s bad brother Azhar. It’s like Qiyaamah (The day of Judgement in the next life before God). The houses are burning everywhere. Women and children are running and screaming. What are we supposed to do?” he asked, as if I was supposed to know.
In an interview on Cii Broadcasting this morning, Shaban disclosed that many of the casualties had to be taken to Turkey, the border being just a short distance away from the town. The Al Rahma hospital now has limited capabilities with some of the equipment moved to private homes and other locations. The city has been targeted three times in the last three weeks.
“Most of the casualties were burnt in this attack beyond recognition. We did not know who they were and we put them in one grave all together and prayed the Salaatul Janazah (funeral prayer) over them,” said Shaban.
According to him, a vacuum bomb was used in the strike. It hit the market storing gas stores and petrol outlets. “It took many hours to put the fire down,” said Shaban as he cried again on live radio.
Dr Ahmed Ghandour, the surgeon working in the hospital, could not contain himself either. “With over 100 casualties rushing in how are we supposed to cope. There isn’t enough equipment or even ambulances.”
One of the medical personnel at the hospital known as Nihad was also amongst the dead. “We couldn’t recognise his face until we took some of his old photos and compared it to the burnt body,” said a distraught Dr Ghandour. “We are civilians. Where do we escape to?” he asked, knowing full well that there wouldn’t be any answer again.
“One of the ladies who came to the hospital was a heavily pregnant. She died and we tried to save the baby by doing a C-section. We took the baby to the border hoping to send it to Turkey. The baby needed a ventilator. He died at the border. There was no ambulance. We took him in a private car.”
Arab News | 02 Shabaan 1436/21 May 2015
The holy city of Makkah will host the largest hotel in the world with 10,000 rooms, 70 restaurants, shopping centers and a helipad, informed sources said. The project valued at $3.5 billion will be ready in two years.
Covering an area of 686,000 square feet, Abraj Kudai will also have royal suites, prayer halls and a convention center — all in 12 separate towers. The focal point, however, will be the central dome, expected to be one of the largest and tallest in the world.
As the site of the hotel is only about a mile from the Grand Mosque, it is expected to host many of the millions of pilgrims. However, guests may need a robust bank account to book a room as the target will be high-end customers — who can afford four-star luxury in 10 towers and five-star hotels in two.
As for the architecture, the Abraj Kudai looks like a semi-futuristic, sand-colored, desert version of a 1930s Manhattan high-rise. Inside, London-based Areen Hospitality has been given the task of decorating the vast area.
But it’s no sweat off the brow of Areen Hospitality, according to Andrew Lindwood, head of design at Areen Hospitality, who told ArabianBusiness.com: “We allow for this and have the experience to respond to such a challenge, without ever losing the creative essence needed to welcome and surprise the guests expected at Abraj Kudai.”