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BA apologies to passengers for Saudi flight ordeal

British Airways have apologised to Heathrow-bound customers who had to return twice to a Saudi Arabian airport due to a faulty plane.

The Boeing 747 plane first had to turn back to Riyadh on Wednesday due to a problem with the wing flaps. Then the same plane took off yesterday following repairs, but soon into the flight the same problem occurred, so it again returned to Riyadh airport.

A British Airways plane returned to Saudi Arabia twice due to technical faults. Credit: Press Association

Only one BA staff member attended the needs of more than 300 irate passengers, some of who were reportedly sick and emotional. A BA spokesperson said:

"We apologise to customers for their experience, and we sent a replacement aircraft to fly them to the UK. Our customer service teams are contacting customers directly to offer compensation, expenses and complimentary tickets as a gesture of goodwill.

"The safety of our customers and crew is always our first concern and due to a technical problem, the decision was taken to return the aircraft to Riyadh.

"Our crew and customer service teams did everything they could to care for customers, and we provided overnight hotel accommodation."

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Saudi King congratulates Egypt's interim leader

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah Credit: REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has sent a message of congratulations to the head of the Egyptian Constitutional Court, Adli Mansour, for being appointed interim head of state, the Saudi state news agency SPA reports.

"In the name of the people of Saudi Arabia and on my behalf, we congratulate your leadership of Egypt in this critical period of its history. We pray for God to help you bear the responsibility laid upon you to achieve the ambitions of our brotherly people of Egypt," the message said.

FCO condemn 'grotesque' Saudi 'paralysis' sentence

The reported sentencing to paralysis for a Saudi man for a crime he committed as a 14-year-old has been condemned as "grotesque" by the Foreign Office.

According to reports in Saudi Arabia media, 24-year-old Ali al-Khawahir will be paralysed from the waist down unless he pays one million Saudi riyals (£177,000) in compensation to the victim.

An FCO spokesman said: "We urge the Saudi authorities to ensure that this grotesque punishment is not carried out."

"Such practices are prohibited under international law and have no place in any society."

Amnesty International also condemned the punishment as "utterly shocking".

Saudi Arabia 'may try to end Twitter anonymity'

A woman uses the internet in Saudi Arabia, where media is heavily censored. Credit: Reuters

Saudi Arabia may try to end anonymity for Twitter users in the country by limiting access to the site to people who register their identification documents, the Arab News daily reported.

The country's Grand Mufti, Saudi Arabia's top cleric, last week described users of the microblogging site as "clowns" wasting time with frivolous and even harmful discussions, local newspapers reported.

"A source at (the regulator) described the move as a natural result of the successful implementation of (its) decision to add a user's identification numbers while topping up mobile phone credit," Arab News reported.

That would not necessarily make a user's identity visible to other users of the site, but it would mean the Saudi government could monitor the tweets of individual Saudis.

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Saudi prince's hope for Middle East reform

Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal has told ITV News that he would like to see further reform across the Middle East:

I’d like all those Arab countries who did not have an instability or revolution to wake up and immediately to reform and change before this tide reaches them

When asked if this included Saudi Arabia the prince replied: “All countries – no country is immune. Everyone who thinks he is immune, as you say in English, ‘he is talking rubbish’”.

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