Jeddah rioters being investigated

Updated 14 January 2014

Jeddah rioters being investigated

The Al-Kandarah police station in Jeddah has launched an investigation into the cases of 20 expatriates of Ethiopian and Pakistani descent who were arrested for instigating the riots that recently took place in Jeddah.
The riots, which led to the closure of Al-Sitteen Street in Jeddah, started when several illegal expatriates took to the streets with staffs and sticks, obstructing traffic and vandalizing cars.
The rioters have been charged with violating the Kingdom’s laws, which prohibit gathering without prior government permission. The illegal expatriates were also arrested for possession of sharp objects and assaulting citizens and residents.
Investigations are set to take place prior to the transfer of their files to the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution.
Ethiopians residing in Jeddah, meanwhile, denounced the conduct of their fellow nationals who violated the Kingdom’s labor laws, characterizing their behavior as unacceptable.
“The Kingdom has hosted them and their families and has allowed them to live with dignity; their behavior is intolerable. The Kingdom has the right to regulate its labor market and to maintain its security just like any other country,” said Yousif Bajazi, an Ethiopian expatriate living in Jeddah.
Mousa Dardeir, another Ethiopian expatriate, said: “The Kingdom gave expatriates sufficient time to correct their status so they should have taken advantage of the amnesty period. This is no way to react to their situation.”
Reporters from the local media met with some of the arrested rioters who expressed their regret.
Mohammed Hassan, one of the expatriates who was arrested for his involvement in the riots, said he took to the streets thinking it would accelerate his repatriation home.
Hassan called on members of his community to respect the Kingdom’s laws and not get carried away with the behavior of other lawless individuals.
“I saw some expatriates carrying sticks and standing in the streets and they told me this would speed up their return home, so I joined them. I didn’t realize the situation would deteriorate to that level. I have made matters worse for myself now,” said Ishtiyaq Hussein, another arrested expatriate.
The Northern Province police station said 75 rioters have been referred to the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution. The demonstrations in Al-Azeziyah damaged 14 vehicles and caused numerous injuries.

Umrah pilgrims now free to move around Saudi Arabia

Updated 31 min 29 sec ago

Umrah pilgrims now free to move around Saudi Arabia

  • Previously, Umrah pilgrims were restricted to the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah and the port city of Jeddah
  • Nearly 8 million Muslims are likely to perform Umrah this year

JEDDAH: Millions of Umrah pilgrims are to be granted the freedom to visit anywhere in the Kingdom during their stay, the Saudi Cabinet decided on Tuesday.

Muslims making the holy pilgrimage will be allowed to tour anywhere in the country as part of Saudi Arabia’s plans to boost tourism and the economy.

“The Cabinet has decided to exclude people coming to perform Umrah and to visit the Prophet’s Mosque (in Madinah), of the prohibition of movement outside Makkah, Madinah, and Jeddah. A royal decree has been prepared to this effect,” the acting media minister, Issam bin Saeed, said in a statement to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

Previously, Umrah pilgrims were restricted to the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah and the port city of Jeddah.



Vision 2030 aims to increase the country’s capacity to welcome Umrah visitors from 8 million to 30 million every year.

Nearly 8 million Muslims will perform Umrah in the Kingdom this year, and the Cabinet’s move will enable them to enjoy a broader experience of Saudi Arabia by visiting key landmarks, historic sites, tourist attractions and shopping centers.

“We are looking to enrich the experience of pilgrims and facilitate their arrival,” Dr. Amr Al-Maddah, chief planning and strategy officer at the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, told Arab News. “Traveling around the Kingdom is an opportunity for pilgrims to visit cultural and tourist sites.

“At the same time, they will be allowed to arrive at any port in the country which will facilitate their arrival and expand the capacity to receive more pilgrims.”

Ministers hope their decision will help toward reaching Saudi Arabia’s goal of receiving 30 million Umrah pilgrims by 2030.

In the past, pilgrims were allowed to convert their visas into a tourist visa on the condition that they were registered with a tourism program. “This is no longer a requirement,” said Al-Maddah.

He added that they would now be free to plan visits to other Saudi cities, tourist destinations, festivals and events, within the period of their visa validity.

Al-Maddah said: “We want to make it available to everyone in order to enrich the experience of the pilgrims, which is one of the goals of Vision 2030.”

He noted that the authority responsible for implementing the Cabinet’s decision would be the Interior Ministry.