Al-Asheikh acknowledges Deoband’s contribution

Updated 18 February 2014
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Al-Asheikh acknowledges Deoband’s contribution

Islamic Affairs Minister Saleh Al-Asheikh has pledged to work closely with Darul Uloom Deoband, India’s oldest and most prestigious Islamic university. The minister is currently on a visit to India.
The pledge to extend support to Deoband was given by Al-Asheikh during a ceremony organized in the minister’s honor on Sunday by Deoband students and faculty members.
After landing in a special helicopter at a helipad in Deoband, Al-Asheikh went around the campus, where he was briefed about the achievements of the 159-year-old Islamic seminary.
The minister visited the King Khaled building on the campus. The minister was accompanied by a 12-member delegation, including Saudi Ambassador to India Saud Al-Saati.
“My visit underlines the keenness of Riyadh to communicate with Muslims in various parts of the world, as well as to boost interaction between Muslims in the Kingdom, represented by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, and India,” said Al-Asheikh.
He describing Darul Uloom as a “citadel” of Islam.
Ambassador Al-Saati said Darul Uloom made significant contribution in every sphere of life and its impact was visible in many parts of the world.
Speaking to Arab News from Deoband, Mufti Abul Qasim Nomani, the rector, said: “The visit has helped strengthen ties between the Kingdom and Deoband and between Saudi Arabia and India.”
Darul Uloom Deoband, which has over 4,000 students on its rolls, has always distanced itself from religious extremism, he said. “Al-Asheikh’s visit has also helped remove many misconceptions about the Darul Uloom,” he added.
There are around 200 million Muslims in India, and they are the largest minority in a country with a population of 1.2 billion. Deoband is a major Islamic institution, which has its affiliated schools in different parts of the world. It has produced a large number of renowned Islamic scholars.


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
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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.”