Video shows mock military drill in Kuwait, not ‘Saudi minister spooked by firecrackers at Chinese Embassy’

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Copyright AFP 2017-2022. All rights reserved.

A video has been viewed tens of thousands of times in August 2022 in posts that purports to show the Saudi defense minister fleeing fireworks lit outside the Chinese Embassy in the capital Riyadh. It’s wrong. The video actually shows a mock military exercise in 2019 in Kuwait.

The video has been shared here by an India-based Twitter user on August 23, 2022. It was viewed over 150,000 times before being deleted.

“The Saudi Defense Minister arrived at the Chinese Embassy in Riyadh to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Apparently the Chinese forgot to inform the Saudi Minister or his staff that there would be firecrackers to welcome him . Watch the fun,” reads the tweet.

The video shows a man wearing a white keffiyeh getting out of a stationary vehicle surrounded by security personnel.

He is greeted by a second man, who leads him to a building. Suddenly, the sound of gunfire rang out, forcing security personnel to get the first man back into the vehicle before he drove away, leaving a cloud of blue smoke in his wake.

Screenshot of fake Twitter post, taken August 26, 2022

The same video was shared with a similar claim on Twitterand on Facebook here and here.

However, the claim is false.

Simulated military exercise

A reverse image search on Google found the corresponding video posted here on December 13, 2019, by Alsaa Newsa media based in Jordan.

The Arabic caption of the video translates to English as: “Military exercise for personal guards in Kuwait”.

Below is a screenshot comparing the video in the misleading messages (left) and the video uploaded by Alsaa News (right):

A video showing the same scene taken from a different angle has been released here on Twitter on December 12, 2019, by Al-Hadath News, a Kuwait-based broadcaster.

The Arabic-language tweet reads: “Gulf Defense & Aerospace Exhibition. UAE Guard Military Fake Show”.

In the video, the news anchor explains in Arabic that the exercise was conducted during the fifth Gulf Defense and Aerospace Exhibition and Conference (GDA) in Kuwait which officially started on December 10, 2019.

GDA is a biannual international event for defence, aerospace, homeland security and safety.

Hundreds of leading international defense and arms companies participated in the 2019 event, according to a report published in Kuwait Times on December 10, 2019.

Kuwait Fair

Keyword searches also found another video taken from a different angle posted by the Kuwait Army General Staff Headquarters on their verified Instagram account.

“Part of the Prince Guard Corps exhibit that was made during the Fifth Gulf Defense and Aerospace Expo, held from December 10-12, 2019 at the Kuwait International Fairground,” the caption reads in Arabic from the video.

Below is a screenshot comparing the video in the misleading posts (left) and the video posted on the Kuwaiti military’s Instagram account (right), with the corresponding features highlighted in red by AFP:

In the Google Maps photos of the Kuwait International Fairground, a globe structure on the roundabout is visible, which matches the video seen in the misleading posts.

The location in the video corresponds to this image tagged at the funfair on Google Street View:

Screenshot from Google Street View, taken August 31, 2022.

AFP previously demystified Arabic-language posts falsely linking the video to the Saudi Defense Minister.

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