Postpone Haj if you can

Updated 03 September 2014
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Postpone Haj if you can

In an unprecedented move aimed at preventing congestion and stampedes and ensuring safety of the guests of God, Saudi authorities have urged domestic and foreign pilgrims to postpone their Haj plans for this year if possible due to ongoing expansion work at Makkah’s Grand Mosque.
The call follows the government’s decision to reduce the number of foreign pilgrims by 20 percent and domestic pilgrims 50 percent this year. Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh has backed the measure, saying it was taken in public interest.
In a series of announcements through the Holy Qur’an television channel, which is aired from Makkah, the government advised pilgrims intending to perform Haj and Umrah this year to postpone their plans to reduce congestion at the Grand Mosque.
“By making this announcement our government is not preventing anybody from Haj, but asking them to postpone in order to avoid congestion and help first-time Hajis to perform their religious duties without difficulties,” Saeed Al-Qurashi, a member of the Haj & Umrah Committee at Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told Arab News.
He said the mataf (the circumambulation area around the Holy Kaaba) could hold now only 39,000 faithful per hour, suggesting an influx of a large number of pilgrims could cause congestion inside the mosque.
“Once the mataf expansion is completed, it can accommodate more than 130,000 pilgrims per hour. So, it would be better for our brethren to come for Haj next year or after two years, when they will be able to perform their rituals with ease,” he explained.
Hatem Qadi, deputy Haj minister and spokesman of the ministry, emphasized the need for reducing the number of foreign and domestic pilgrims this year.
“The period for cutting the number of pilgrims will not exceed two years,” he said. The ongoing expansion work at the two holy mosques are aimed at accommodating more pilgrims in the coming years, he pointed out.
Qadi cited the grand mufti’s statement on the issue saying the government took the decision because it was essential. “The ongoing expansion is for the benefit of pilgrims,” the mufti said.
Mohammed Noor Rahman Sheikh, Indian consul for Haj, said his country would send more than 170,000 pilgrims this year. “We have been informed about the government’s plan to cut the number of foreign pilgrims by 20 percent,” he told Arab News.


Music festival finale at Jeddah Season eclipses all expectations

Updated 48 min 40 sec ago
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Music festival finale at Jeddah Season eclipses all expectations

  • Attendees filled King Abdullah Sports City despite the heat, but nothing could prepare them for what was to come
  • Fans were wowed by performances including 50 Cent, Tyga, DJ Steve Aoki and Janet Jackson

JEDDAH: Seven megastars closed the Jeddah Season with a bang for the Jeddah World Festival on Thursday.

Attendees filled King Abdullah Sports City despite the heat, but nothing could prepare them for what was to come. 

R3wire and Varski appeared on stage and cheers erupted from the crowd. They played remixes of songs like “We Will Rock You” by Queen and The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” before mixing “One Kiss” by Dua Lipa and Calvin Harris.

Once the mood was set, superstar singer Janet Jackson stormed onto the stage. She sang and danced to hits like “All For You” and her latest track “Made for Now.”

After her powerful performance, she was replaced by English heart-throb Liam Payne. Once a part of One Direction, Payne is now a solo artist.

He performed a mix of songs, showing his vocal range and inspiring the crowd to sway with him when he sang a cover of “Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran.

“The crowd here in Jeddah is amazing,” he said while performing.

After a short intermission, American rapper Tyga delivered his second performance in Jeddah after his debut on July 12.

The audience was waiting especially for him, and when he appeared on stage people made sure to show the rapper all their love with loud cheers.

Tyga performed some of the fans’ favorite tracks, including “Ice Cream Man”, “Taste”, “Rock City” and “Hookah.”

Without a moment’s rest, rapper Future began to spit fire on the stage as soon as Tyga stepped off. The rapper, 35, performed his famous tracks like “Jumpman”, “Low Life” and “Mask Off.”

Legendary rapper 50 Cent then transported the audience to the early 2000s as he performed his tracks “P.I.M.P” and “Candy Shop” before the crowd exploded with energy when the intro to “In Da Club” began to play. 

Although Chris Brown’s time on stage was short-lived and bittersweet, with the singer only performing four tracks, fans still swayed to the rhythm of his huge hit “Loyal” featuring Lil Wayne and Tyga.

Lastly, legendary DJ and producer Steve Aoki set the stage alight with an immense set-list.

The crowd jumped and surged to the beat of his opening track, “Moshi Moshi,” before moving to another classic, “Bella Ciao.”

Even though members of the crowd were exhausted after being at the venue for seven hours, their energy was refuelled as Aoki hyped them up with his high-octane performance.

Aoki created a brand new track with Saudi singer Daliah Mubarak and remixed two special songs for the Jeddah World Festival, including a mix of Egypt’s beloved singer Abdel Halim Hafez.