Ministry denies Haj age restrictions

Updated 18 May 2014
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Ministry denies Haj age restrictions

There has been no official age restriction on Umrah and Haj pilgrims over the age of 65, said Ali Al-Ghamdi, an official at the Haj Ministry.
Advice has been issued to pilgrims above a certain age and to children as part of preventive measures to control the spread of the virus in the Western Province, he said.
“The deadly coronavirus has reduced the number of domestic pilgrims but has had no impact on applications for Haj and Umrah pilgrims coming from abroad,” said Al-Ghamdi.
The Haj Ministry has also not received any inquiries from Haj missions about potential restrictions in the wake of the coronavirus, he said.
Preparations for the upcoming Haj season are in full swing and the process of issuing visas was completed two months ago, Al-Ghamdi said. “The Haj and Interior Ministries are the sole entities authorized to issue advisories on Haj matters.”
Pilgrims arriving from abroad into King Abdulaziz International Airport were not seen wearing face masks, Arab News confirmed. Airport staff also said that hardly anyone was seen wearing face masks on the premises.
“The coronavirus may be a cause for concern for residents within the Kingdom, but not for us,” Abdul Salam Kutty, a pilgrim who recently arrived from Calicut, India, told Arab News.
“We have been reading about the spread of this virus in Jeddah, but this did not deter us from embarking on our pilgrimage,” said Nayeemullah Sharif, another Indian pilgrim who had arrived from Hyderabad.
Samah Al-Ezz, an Egyptian medical practitioner who arrived from Cairo to perform the Umrah, expressed similar views.
“I intend to visit Makkah next week irrespective of the situation,” said Mohammed Sarwar, an Indian expat who lives in Washington D.C.
Airline officials said that business has not been affected and that there have been no flight and hotel cancellations.


Saudi Arabia’s up-and-coming energy park set to transform KSA into a global industrial powerhouse

Situated in the Kingdom’s Eastern Province, between Dammam and Al-Ahsa, the project will be developed in three phases. (Supplied)
Updated 12 December 2018
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Saudi Arabia’s up-and-coming energy park set to transform KSA into a global industrial powerhouse

  • The first phase is scheduled for completion by 2021
  • SPARK will localize more than 300 new industrial services and facilities and will have specialized training centers to cater to the huge influx of manpower

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia is fast catching up with the world’s ever-growing energy and technology scene ahead of 2030. In fact, the King Salman Energy Park (SPARK) may soon prove a global destination for energy industry investors.

The new energy city mega-project is being developed by Saudi Aramco, which received authoritization to embark on the initiative in the summer, and is operated, managed and maintained in partnership with the Saudi Authority for Industrial Cities and Technology Zones (MODON). 

With projections that the megacity will create more than 100,000 jobs, it is considered one of the most up-and-coming energy parks in the world.

SPARK will localize more than 300 new industrial services and facilities and will have specialized training centers to cater to the huge influx of manpower.

Situated in the Kingdom’s Eastern Province, between Dammam and Al-Ahsa, the project will be developed in three phases. 

The first phase is scheduled for completion by 2021, while the final phase of the project is set for completion in 2035. With all this on track, the 50-square-kilometer project is poised to be a magnet for foreign and domestic investment. 

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman inaugurated the King Salman Energy Park at the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) on Monday. (SPA)

What’s more, Aramco’s espousal of SPARK will also help businesses indulge in technological development, manufacturing and exports channels and build a world-class energy supply chain. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman inaugurated the King Salman Energy Park at the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) on Monday.

During the groundbreaking ceremony, Energy Minister and Aramco Chairman Khalid Al-Falih declared SPARK a special economic zone (SEZ) in which businesses can enjoy exclusive benefits. 

“We are looking forward to collaborating with our first anchor partners at SPARK,” said Saudi Aramco President and CEO, Amin Nasser.

SPARK has already attracted investment from foreign and local companies to produce and manufacture goods and services. The first phase of the project is expected to cost about $1.6 billion. 

The park is set to attract industrial investors in the water, power, petrochemical and wastewater sectors, among others. 

Facilities at SPARK will also help investors bridge gaps in local production back home, increasing competition in the long run. 

“This energy city is exciting because it brings together a multitude of businesses,” Mark McCollum, president and CEO of Weatherford Corp, told SPARK.

“We firmly believe that collaboration and cooperation among service companies and individual providers to the energy sector is vital in breaking new ground.”

The King Salman Energy Park is also set to promote small and medium-sized enterprises. With focus on energy production, it also provides opportunities for investment in residential and commercial real estate projects.

Nasser said that the “King Salman Energy Park will spur a new era of growth for one of the Kingdom’s already thriving sectors. What’s more, it will serve as a central gateway to the region’s economies since Aramco is at the heart of the global oil and gas industry.”