Iran, Morocco report highest death toll in Haj stampede

Updated 26 September 2015

Iran, Morocco report highest death toll in Haj stampede

MINA: Twelve countries have claimed that their citizens were among the 719 pilgrims killed in Thursday’s Haj stampede in Mina, with Iran reporting 131 deaths.
Morocco had reported 87 dead, according to Moroccan media.
Saudi authorities have yet to provide a breakdown of the nationalities of the casualties.
The other countries that reported deaths among their pilgrims were Mali, 30; India, 14; Egypt, 8; Pakistan, 7; Senegal, 5; Turkey, 4; Algeria, Kenya and Indonesia, 3 each; and the Netherlands, 1.
A top Pakistani Haj official said 236 Pakistani pilgrims have remained missing after the stampede.
The Philippines reported six deaths, including one from the stampede and five from illness.
Egypt’s Religious Endowments Minister Mohammed Mokhtar Gomaa gave the state-run MENA news agency the death toll late Thursday night. He said another 30 Egyptians were injured.
On Twitter, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj gave the death toll Friday and said 13 Indians were injured in the crush and stampede near Mina. She says Indian volunteers are aiding local officials.
Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has expressed condolences and called for better management of the Haj crowds to prevent future disasters.

Senegal’s President Macky Sall called for an assessment on the organization and conditions of the pilgrimage, and said national discussions would be held to better organize the people sent from Senegal.
The Haj has drawn some 2 million people from over 180 countries this year.

(With input from Agencies)

Motorsport, rock bands, tourists … welcome to the new Saudi Arabia

There was an explosion of joy at the podium when Antonio Felix da Costa lifted the winner’s trophy at the conclusion of the Formula E Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix on Saturday. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 16 December 2018

Motorsport, rock bands, tourists … welcome to the new Saudi Arabia

  • Three-day event at Ad Diriyah reaches spectacular climax in an unprecedented spirit of openness

The driver with the winner’s trophy was Antonio Felix da Costa — but the real winners were Saudi Arabia itself, and more than 1,000 tourists visiting the country for the first time.

Da Costa, the Andretti Motorsport driver, won the Formula E Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix in front of thousands of race fans at a custom-built track in the historic district on the outskirts of Riyadh.

But in truth, the event was about much more than high-tech electric cars hurtling round a race track — thrilling though that was. The three-day festival of motorsport, culture and entertainment was Saudi Arabia’s chance to prove that it can put on a show to rival anything in the world, and which only two years ago would have been unthinkable.

The event was also the first to be linked to the Sharek electronic visa system, allowing foreigners other than pilgrims or business visitors to come to Saudi Arabia.

Jason, from the US, is spending a week in the country with his German wife, riding quad bikes in the desert and visiting heritage sites. “I’ve always wanted to come for many, many years ... I’m so happy to be here and that they’re letting us be here,” he said.

Aaron, 40, a software engineer, traveled from New York for two days. “Saudi Arabia has always been an exotic place ... and I didn’t think I’d ever be able to come here,” he said.

About 1,000 visitors used the Sharek visa, a fraction of what Saudi Arabia aims eventually to attract. 

“Hopefully we will learn from this and see what we need to do for the future, but I can tell you from now that there is a lot of demand,” said Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, vice chairman of the General Sports Authority.

His optimism was backed by Kirill Dmitriev, chief executive of the Russian Direct Investment Fund and a visitor to Ad Diriyah. “Such events will attract tourists and are a true celebration for young Saudis who desire a bright future,” he said.

“The vision of moderate Islam, promoted by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is important both for the region and the entire world, and its realization needs to be appreciated, respected and supported.”

The event ended on Saturday night with a spectacular show by US band OneRepublic and the superstar DJ David Guetta. “Just when you think things can’t get better, they suddenly do,” said concertgoer Saleh Saud. “This is the new Saudi Arabia, and I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next.”