Top articles of 2019 on Al Arabiya English

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From the Arab world, Al Arabiya English brought you the leading, breaking news stories in 2019. Here are our editor’s picks from our most-read stories of the year:

In a sworn deposition obtained exclusively by Al Arabiya English, Canadian businessman Alan Bender alleged US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar was the “jewel in the crown” of an illicit campaign by Qatar to gain influence over the US government. Omar has denied the accusations.

Saudi Aramco began its long anticipated initial public offering process (IPO) back in November. At the time, questions were raised as to the appetite for the IPO, which were immediately overturned as the institutional portion hit full subscription after just four days of book building. The energy giant would later go on for a blockbuster bid on the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) in early December, exceeding a $2 trillion valuation briefly during its opening day.

The brutal murder of Israa Ghareeb, a young Palestinian woman, has sparked international outrage. Ghareeb’s murder occurred after the 21-year-old from Bethlehem had gone out to dinner with her fiancé and his sister, and posted a video of their outing on a social media platform.

Her friends alleged that the video angered her cousins and uncle, who told the young woman’s father and brothers that their daughter had dishonored the family by going out in public with a man before they were officially married.

Hundreds of people have taken to social media and the streets of Bethlehem and Ramallah to condemn so-called honor killings and call for better legal protections for women.

Lebanon’s economic and political outlook is bleak. The country’s dollar shortage has been a source of worry throughout the year, culminating in the ongoing situation which sees those with the fewest resources hurt the most. Since the publication of this article, the country’s state of affairs have continued to deteriorate, with protestors recently calling for the country’s new prime minister to quit just 10 days after he was appointed.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia amended its guardianship laws in August, allowing Saudi women above 21 to apply for passports and travel freely without the permission of a male guardian.

Thirty-year-old Saudi woman Muneera Abdullah spoke to Al Arabiya English about a photo of her hugging a portrait of Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that went viral after the breakthrough changes.

Persecuted Iranian Christians spoke exclusively to Al Arabiya English about the regime cracking down on evangelicals in Iran during the Christmas season, in an attempt to intimidate Christians not to celebrate their religion.

After severe winter weather in the Lebanese mountainous border town of Arsal in January, Syrian refugee camps were left in unimaginably horrible conditions. The refugees told Al Arabiya English the circumstances made them feel as if they were being displaced all over again.

Since mass demonstrations in Lebanon broke out in October, hundreds of Syrian refugees have headed back to their hometowns in war-torn Syria.

Analysis of NGO Human Rights Watch’s 2019 output revealed disproportionate and lopsided coverage of Saudi Arabia compared to other countries, showing the organization is more critical of the Kingdom despite Iran’s widespread human rights abuses.

The Qatari government ran sponsored messages in July on the widely read American Politico Playbook newsletter, promoting Qatar’s relationship with the US. The move followed a push by top US lawmakers for the US Department of Justice to list the Qatari-owned Al Jazeera Media Network as a “foreign agent” for its content that promotes the policies of the state of Qatar, including its support for the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.

American businesswoman and former producer of the television show “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” Carla DiBello talked to Al Arabiya English about her first documentary, “Electric Kingdom,” which sets out to explore reforms underway in Saudi Arabia as the country enacts its Vision 2030 plan.

This year Saudi Arabia began offering tourist visas in September to citizens from 49 countries, listed state-owned energy giant Saudi Aramco on the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul), and implemented changes that allow women above the age of 21 to travel without permission and to exercise more control over family matters.

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