Mosques prepare for Ramadan

Updated 16 July 2012
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Mosques prepare for Ramadan

Extensive arrangements are being made in all the mosques to accommodate the extra streams of worshippers during Ramadan.
The start of the holy month will be determined based on the sighting of the moon later this week.
Ramadan is likely to start Friday after astronomers said the new moon could be sighted Thursday evening.
Saudi astronomer Abdul Aziz Al-Shammari said: “The moon will set this coming Thursday six minutes after the setting of the sun, increasing the likelihood of the new moon being sighted on Thursday.”
The Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Call and Guidance’s department in charge of mosques directed imams and muezzins in the Kingdom to keep the place tidy and ensure adequate supplies of power and water during the holy month to cater to the increased number of Muslims likely to visit mosques for Taraweeh prayers, which follows the regular Isha prayers.
Private contractors that maintain mosques have been asked to be on duty at nights during the holy month to guarantee a continuous water and power supply for all places of worship.
The mosques department maintains more than 6,000 mosques in Riyadh alone and other mosques in the city and suburbs have been built and maintained by members of the royal families and philanthropists in the Kingdom.
Improvised partitions for women will be built in mosques that do not have separate prayer halls for them.
Some of mosques are busy replacing their carpets and others are washing them to ensure they look fresh for the holy month.
Ubaidullah, an imam at a mosque in Riyadh’s Naseeriyah district said yesterday: “Everyone likes to come to the mosques for prayers during the holy month and we expect a larger congregation for Taraweeh prayers.”
He added the holy month not only provides a good opportunity for Muslims to greet one another and but also helps them perform good deeds that will be rewarded by Allah.
He said: “We are making every effort to provide worshippers with a conducive environment to offer their prayers in a serene atmosphere at the mosque."
He added loudspeakers outside the mosque premises would not be used during Taraweeh prayers according to instructions from the mosques department.
Ubaidullah said Isha prayers would be conducted approximately two hours after iftar (breaking of the fast) and would be followed by Taraweeh prayers from 9.15 p.m.
Midnight prayers (Qiyamul Layl) will be conducted from the 20th day of Ramadan until the end of the holy month. These prayers will begin at 1 a.m. for one hour.
Tents will also be constructed adjacent to the mosques to enable worshippers to break their fast during the month.
An official from a maintenance company that looks after 1,300 mosques in Riyadh said employees have been asked to work in the mosques till late at night during the month.
“These laborers are expected to keep the mosques neat and tidy and ensure a smooth supply of water and power.”
Director General of the mosques department in Riyadh Abdullah Al-Hamid said imams have been instructed not to delegate their duty of leading Taraweeh prayers to someone else without informing the ministry and getting permission in advance. Al-Hamid said: “The imams are expected to remain at their respective mosques during the last 10 days of the month and should not leave even to perform Umrah or visit Makkah.”
According to the ministry’s instructions, imams are not permitted to undertake any activities related to religious propagation unless they are licensed to do so.
Imams and muezzins should also ensure no beggar asks for alms inside or at the doors of mosques.
Al-Hamid said circulars were sent to all imams ordering them to perform their duties in the best possible manner and not miss any compulsory prayer in their respective mosques.
They should strive to maintain the status and spiritual atmosphere of mosques, it added.
No mosque official will be granted leave during the month of Ramadan unless there are exceptional circumstances, the circular said.
The imams should also keep their mosques open during daytime so worshippers have the opportunity to remain and pray there until the end of the night prayers.
The imams should also ensure carpets and mosque premises are regularly and properly cleaned.
They should report any contractors who fail to carry keep mosques clean.
Prince Turki bin Sultan, deputy minister of culture and information for information affairs, said a Ramadan broadcasting plan has been approved.
In a statement to the Saudi Press Agency, he said an integral part of the program is the live transmission of Taraweeh prayers and Tahaggud (late night) prayers from the Makkah-based Grand Mosque and the Madinah-based Prophet's Mosque.
He explained Saudi TV is also keen to provide its viewers with coverage of the Saudi Professional League that kicks off during Ramadan, coinciding with the London Olympic Games.


Saudis recall history’s greatest TV event: Apollo moon landing

Updated 20 July 2019
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Saudis recall history’s greatest TV event: Apollo moon landing

  • The TV images beamed from 320,000km away in space left viewers astounded but happy
  • The TV coverage influenced thinking and attitudes in the Kingdom just like everywhere else

DUBAI: It was a sleepy afternoon in Saudi Arabia, just days before the end of the school vacation, and Saudis had their eyes glued to their TV sets as they waited for live coverage of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Before July 20, 1969, the idea of a human walking on the moon was the stuff of science fiction. However, almost overnight, sci-fi had turned into reality with a live broadcast showing American astronaut Neil Armstrong’s dramatic descent onto the empty lunar landscape.

Between science fiction and science fact, the live coverage of the lunar landing amounted to an unusual fusion of news and entertainment.

Saudi TV technicians bring the first live images of Neil Armstrong’s 1969 moon landing to
viewers around the Kingdom. (Supplied photo)

The historic images — beamed back to Earth more than 320,000 km away — left Saudi viewers astounded and confused, but mostly elated to be witnessing such an epoch-making event.

The event was covered live on television and radio stations in Saudi Arabia. Most Saudis and residents living in the Kingdom watched it on Saudi channels 1 and 3, owned by Saudi Aramco.

Hessah Al-Sobaie, a housewife from Al-Dawadmi, recalled watching the moon landing from her grandparents’ backyard as an 11-year-old.

“It felt weird watching a human walk on the moon,” she told Arab News. “I remember the endless questions I asked as a child.”

While most people were aware that going to the moon was risky, many Saudis believed that such a journey was impossible and all but unthinkable.


EVENTS WATCH

1. NASA’s Apollo 11 mission control room in Houston has been restored to its 1969 condition and regular tours
will be conducted by the Johnson Space Center.

2. NASA ‘Science Live’ will have a special edition on July 23 on board the aircraft carrier that recovered the Apollo 11 capsule.

3. A summer moon festival and family street fair will be held in Wapakoneta, Ohio, from July 17-20.

4. Downtown Houston’s Discovery green will host a free public screening of the ‘Apollo 11’ documentary, with an appearance by NASA astronaut Steve Bowen.

5. Amateur radio operators will host a series of events on July 20-21.

6. The US Space and Rocket Center is staging a special ‘Rockets on Parade’ exhibition.


The Apollo 11 mission prompted discussions across the Middle East over the reality of what people saw on their TV screens. Some Saudi scholars found it hard to believe their eyes.

“I watched it, and I clearly remember each and every detail of the coverage,” Hayat Al-Bokhari, 68, a retired school principal in Jeddah, said.

“My father, Abdul, was 56 at the time. He said the landing was faked. He couldn’t believe or accept that a human could go to the moon.”

Khaled Almasud, 70, a retired university lecturer, was a student in the US state of Oregon at the time of the mission. “Americans were stunned and over the moon, happy with their national achievement. But many Saudis like me were either in denial or insisting on more proof.”

Since the beginning of the 1960s, King Faisal had been rapidly transforming Saudi Arabia, inviting foreign-trained experts to help build a modern country with world-class infrastructure.

Billie Tanner, now 90, lived in the Kingdom for many years with her husband, Larry, and their two children, Laurie and Scott, aged six and four. The family had just arrived in Saudi Arabia and headed to the Aramco compound in Ras Tanura in the Eastern Province.

A screengrab of video of the first lunar landing beamed toward Earth and shown on television worldwide. 

“We were going through a culture shock,” she told Arab News. “I wasn’t thinking of the moon landing, but we heard about it on the news from Dhahran.

“My kids tried to see the astronauts on the moon with their binoculars and said they could see them walking around.”

The Apollo 11 spaceflight has become a milestone in the annals of human history and science. Since 1969 space exploration has greatly expanded man’s knowledge of the universe, far beyond Earth’s limits.

The captivating live coverage of the moon landing inspired millions of people around the world, profoundly influencing their thinking and attitudes.

The people of Saudi Arabia were no exception.