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)


Music blooms in Saudi Arabia's mountain resort city of Taif as rose ensemble takes a bow

Updated 3 min 27 sec ago

Music blooms in Saudi Arabia's mountain resort city of Taif as rose ensemble takes a bow

  • An orchestra of Ukrainian and Russian musicians performed enchanting symphonies by Mozart and Beethoven at the Ward (Rose) Village
  • The month-long Taif Season festival highlights the city as a leading Arab tourist destination

TAIF: Hanging from suspended imitation rose flowers and dressed in white, an orchestra of Ukrainian and Russian musicians performed enchanting symphonies by Mozart and Beethoven at the Ward (Rose) Village in Taif’s Arrudaf Park as part of Taif Season.

The month-long Taif Season will run during August with more than 70 quality events designed to highlight the city as a popular Arab resort and leading Arab tourist destination.

Female musicians in the orchestra played from a height of seven meters, delighting large crowds with a spectacular performance of well-known symphonies.

Mashaal Al-Rashid, head of the company organizing the Rose Village Festival, told Arab News that the name ‘Rose Village’ was chosen in recognition of the importance of rose as the icon of Taif.

“The festival’s content was elaborated, and all the activities and events organized so as to promote the value, and the social and economic significance of Taif’s roses,” he said.

Al-Rashid said that the hanging roses orchestra was inspired by the beauty of Taif’s mountains and their startling roses. 

“Each flower carries a musician holding her instrument, delivering a breathtaking performance and an enjoyable experience,” he said.

The orchestra includes musicians from several countries who were selected after delivering string performances in various world capitals.

 Dr. Nayef Al-Buraq, dean of Taif University’s College of Arts, said that Taif’s character is based on its culture and location.

“It is a cultural tourist icon that evolves year after year to keep pace with the national Vision 2030, with events that attract visitors from around the world,” he said.

“The programs aims to promote quality of life, reflected through the joyful Taif Season that paints a bright picture of Saudi creativity,” said Al-Buraq.

He said that the challenges faced in preparing for this season included developing quality academic programs, highlighting popular arts, and attracting Arab, Saudi and international creative involvement.

“These challenges highlight the leading role played by the Kingdom’s government in catering for culture and arts, and turning this festival into a tourist and cultural event throughout the year,” he said.

Festival visitor Omar Al-Khalidi said that the event offers musical attractions and cultural arts that have long been absent from Taif.

“Everyone knows that Taif is the city of arts and culture, and the first Saudi city to host a movie theater. Arrudaf Park was the scene for concerts for well-known artists such as Abdullah Mohammed, Mohammed Abdu, Talal Maddah and many other Arab talents,” he said.