Arab and Islamic leaders condemn terror plot targeting Makkah’s Grand Mosque

MWL Secretary-General Sheikh Mohammed Abdul Karim Al-Issa, left, and Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, chief of the Presidency of the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques.
Updated 25 June 2017
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Arab and Islamic leaders condemn terror plot targeting Makkah’s Grand Mosque

JEDDAH: Leaders from around the Arab world have condemned a terror plot targeting the Grand Mosque in Makkah, which Saudi security forces said on Friday they had thwarted.
King Salman received a cable from Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, emir of the Kuwait, in which he expressed Kuwait’s strong condemnation of terrorist schemes, which contradict teachings of Islam and all religious and human values. Cables were also received from Kuwaiti Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah and Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah.
The UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan also condemned the plot to target the Grand Mosque. “This heinous crime exposes the extent of terrorism and the savagery of those terrorist groups, and no one in their right mind can justify or explain it… this heinous crime will make us even more formidable and determined to eliminate terrorism and eradicate its sources along with all those who finance, incite, sympathize with, or justify it in any manner whatsoever,” Sheikh Abdullah said.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attack and expressed his full solidarity with Saudi Arabia in confronting terrorism and extremism.
The Egyptian Foreign Ministry confirmed in a statement that the government and people of Egypt stand by Saudi Arabia in confronting any attempt to target its security and stability.
Bahrain condemned the plot in the strongest terms and stressed that terrorism is contrary to all religious, moral and humanitarian values. It reiterated its firm position in rejecting terrorism, and stressed the need for closer international cooperation to eliminate the phenomenon that threatens all nations and peoples without discrimination.
Iraq also condemned the failed terrorist attempt to target the Grand Mosque, affirming its solidarity with the Kingdom in confronting terrorist groups that target its security and stability.
“These attempts demonstrate the extent of the intellectual and ideological deviation of the terrorist-based gangs, which led them to try to attack the holiest mosque during the holy month of Ramadan,” Ahmad Jamal, Foreign Ministry spokesman, said in a press statement.
The Yemeni Foreign Ministry said in a statement issued by the Yemeni news agency, “Attempts to target the Grand Mosque by terrorist groups confirm that these groups have crossed red lines and reflect the seriousness of their schemes, which do not hesitate to target the holiest places of Islam.”
Jordanian Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications Mohammed Momani condemned the failed attack and expressed Jordan’s support for Saudi Arabia in its fight against terrorism.
Momani reiterated Jordan’s call for united international efforts to fight terrorists and terror organizations.
Tunisia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it was categorically opposed to any form of terrorism and radicalism and expressed its solidarity with Saudi Arabia.
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said in a statement, “I vigorously condemn the terrorist attack that targeted the Grand Mosque in Makkah, which plotted for committing one of the most heinous crimes against Islam and Muslims.”
Hariri commended the swift action of Saudi Arabia’s security forces in thwarting the attempt against the Grand Mosque and pilgrims.
The Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its strong condemnation and denouncement of the terror plot.

'Devoid of values'
Muslim World League (MWL) Secretary-General Sheikh Mohammed Abdul Karim Al-Issa said in a statement that terrorism is an evil act devoid of any values.
The Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) condemned the terror attempt, voicing the OIC’s full support for the Kingdom in fighting terrorism.
In Riyadh, the Council of Senior Scholars said it appreciated the achievement of the security forces in thwarting the terror plot.
The council said that those who were planning the crime had not respected the sanctity of the Grand Mosque, and therefore they have no religion nor honesty.
The General President of the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Sudais lauded the achievement attained by the Ministry of Interior in protecting the holy sites.
The Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs in the Kingdom of Bahrain denounced the sinful terrorist plot to target the Grand Mosque in Makkah. The council stressed in a statement: “The attempt to target the Grand Mosque in the month of Ramadan clearly reveals that these terrorists are away from any religious, moral or humanitarian values.”
The Council of Pakistani Scholars also expressed its heavy condemnation of the terrorist plot targeting Makkah’s Grand Mosque.
Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed Al-Tayyeb strongly condemned the attack. In a telephone conversation with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Al-Tayyeb said Al-Azhar supports Saudi Arabia in fighting and uprooting terrorism. He praised the vigilance of Saudi troops, who were able to thwart the terrorist plot.
Egypt’s Mufti Shawki Allam lashed out those who were attempting to carry out the attack during the holy fasting month of Ramadan. He also lauded the vigilance of the Saudi security forces, which foiled the attempt.


Misk program gives a boost to young Saudis who mean business

Misk Innovation and 500 Startups help accelerate innovation and entrepreneurism by bringing Silicon Valley growth techniques to young regional companies, helping them scale and fundraise by imparting knowledge. (Supplied photo)
Updated 19 March 2019
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Misk program gives a boost to young Saudis who mean business

  • The first batch includes 19 start-ups from across the region, specializing in various fields
  • The platform allows businesses to access quality candidates through a matching algorithm

DUBAI: Young Arabs are taking the region’s offline markets online, from fitness and recruitment to car repairs and chalet hire. 

Nineteen start-ups have been chosen so far to take part in the Misk 500 MENA Accelerator Program.

Anwaar Alrefae, a 26-year-old Kuwaiti, is one of them, with her Project 5 Miles (P5M) health and fitness app. 

Anwaar Alrefae of P5M

“We help people get fit and support them in staying fit,” she said. 

“What’s important for the community in the region is family, friends and work, and because fitness isn’t an integral part of these pillars in people’s lives, when things get stressful, the first thing to drop is a healthy lifestyle because it’s not an integral part of their lives.” 

Launched last year, the app’s name stems from pushing through the hardest first 5 miles. 

“In those first 5 miles, it’s a new experience and you’re trying to discover what works for you and what doesn’t,” Alrefae said. 

“Once you push through them, you know what works for you and how to fit it into your life, and it’s easier for you to get active.”

Her objective is to combine fitness and socializing, as her app allows members to book classes in multiple gyms with friends and family. 

“It allows people to be social in an active way, and it’s less likely for them to drop being active because they can be social with friends and family while being active, which brings in the element of entertainment,” she said. 

“The practice of anything is finding a routine without boredom, so by being able to find that flexibility in such activities, people won’t get bored. 

“It’s human nature, and we want to keep people on their toes and engaged.”

Having grown up in Kuwait and studied in Boston, Alrefae hopes to dispel the misconception that the region is generally “lazy,” being extremely active herself. 

“By adding this physical component to people’s lives, they’ll really be able to have a sense of independence and confidence, and set a goal and achieve it ... Besides the health aspect, it will also have a huge mental effect.”

Mohamed Ibrahim, a Sudanese who was raised in Riyadh, is one of Alrefae’s classmates in the Misk program. 

Mohamed Ibrahim of Sabbar

He created Sabbar earlier this year as a recruitment solution that focuses on jobs in the retail and service industry. 

It provides businesses in Saudi Arabia with a platform that automates their recruitment process, halving their recruitment time and cost. 

It also offers potential workers a mobile app that allows them to find nearby jobs.

The start-up is timely, with a recent labor law in the Kingdom pushing businesses to hire more Saudis. 

“It’s a unique offering where we find jobs in a geographical way,” Ibrahim said. 

Sabbar helps Saudis find nearby jobs in the retail and service industry, while also helping automate businesses’ recruitment process. (Supplied photo)

“There’s no platform for Saudis to find retail jobs, like baristas or cashiers, so this helps businesses in their challenge today to hire faster and easier.”

The platform allows businesses to access quality candidates through a matching algorithm built on jobseekers’ personality and desire, and to ensure that potential hires are retained longer.

“There’s a high turnover in Saudi Arabia in this (retail and service) industry — up to 70 percent — compared to the global average of 24 percent,” he said. 

“You have businesses today that are struggling to meet the demand of filling vacancies quickly due to the hire turnover, and there’s a struggle to grow because of it, so when the labor law came out I saw retailers go through a lot of challenges, so it’s a niche market I can definitely grow.”

Abdullah Shamlan of Speero

For Abdullah Shamlan, a 29-year-old Yemeni who was born and raised in Riyadh, the Misk program has provided him with invaluable mentorship to grow his business Speero. 

“You learn from the best, and the quality of the network of founders you’re exposed to is great,” he said. 

“It’s the largest in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region, which definitely helps.”

Speero is an online marketplace that helps businesses and individuals find spare parts for cars in a more convenient way. 

“We connect spare-parts stores with customers. It helps organize some complicated industries, like spare parts,” Shamlan said.

“There’s no single solution that tells you about spare-parts prices and their validation in the market, so we’re doing the tough job for the government on the ground.”

With more than 8,000 suppliers in the Kingdom, Speero has started helping 150 of them manage their inventory while providing almost instant quotations to customers on the search, before delivering the parts to their doorstep. 

“We serve more than 5,000 people in Saudi Arabia, and we’re taking a totally offline market online,” Shamlan said. 

“There’s a need for this because it’s a daily struggle, and we already crossed $1 million in sales in less than 18 months.”

Renting chalets in the Kingdom is another practice that has been made easier, thanks to Latifah Altamimi, a 30-year-old Saudi from Riyadh who created GatherN in November 2016. 

“It’s a platform that helps people search and book chalets in Saudi Arabia,” she said. 

“We also help chalet owners list their properties and manage them, so it’s like a combination of a Saudi Airbnb and Booking.com.”

Latifah Altaimi of GatherN

The start-up stemmed from Altamimi’s own experience as a regular customer, spending every weekend in a chalet in Riyadh for social and family gatherings. 

In one year alone, the app’s customer base grew 500 percent.  

“There’s demand for it. We have more than 6.2 million transactions every year in this market, but 99.99 percent are done manually, for walk-in customers or calling the reception of the (chalet),” she said. 

“It’s a concept developed in Saudi Arabia, with more than 100,000 resorts in the Kingdom. 

“We now have more than 1,000 chalets, with huge room for improvement.” 

Altamimi said the Misk program has been extremely beneficial, adding: “We already know a lot, but there’s a huge difference between knowing and doing. It’s a great opportunity to expand, and we’re working on our growth. We already grew 40 percent in the seven weeks we’ve been with them (the program).” 

One of the challenges she is working on is converting her leads into bookings. 

“We now have more than 15 employees, 8 percent of whom are Saudis, and we’re planning to reach 25 employees,” she said. 

“I was an employee for seven years and I’m a proactive person. I like to try different things and experiment. I worked in an international company where I didn’t have the space to be creative and do more than what I was expected to, so having my own company gives me huge space to experiment, be creative and contribute to the country’s economy.”

The Misk program began on Jan. 27, 2019.

It will conclude with a demo day on May 13 in Riyadh.