Souq Okaz: The largest cultural and commercial gathering held on the Arabian Peninsula

Actors at Souq Okaz re-enact events of the pre-Islamic era in the Arabian Peninsula.
Updated 18 July 2017

Souq Okaz: The largest cultural and commercial gathering held on the Arabian Peninsula

JEDDAH: Souq Okaz, in its 11th edition this year, claimed that it is the largest cultural and commercial gathering on the Arabian Peninsula.
Located 45 kilometers northeast of Taif on a flat plain surrounded by a number of valleys and mountains, the souq’s revival was initiated by Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal.
The first edition of the revived souq was held in 1428 H. It is now supervised by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) to preserve and maintain it as an event that is not limited to poetry because it also represents a tribal event with a great political and social role.
This was a cultural platform where sheikhs met their tribes, initiated agreements and exchanged prisoners.
This event would provide opportunities for reconciliation, declaration of alliances and ending hostilities. It was also known for horse racing and fencing. It was a large commercial market visited by traders coming from Syria, Persia and Yemen, among other countries, and a forum where titles were given to poets, knights and tribes.
On the side lines of the market, speeches and lectures were delivered to visitors and the souq became a wisdom council, in which guidance and conclusions were memorized and shared by the people.
Souq Okaz was one of the most famous markets in ancient times; Arabs headed to the souq during the first 20 days of Dhu Al-Qa’dah.
It was a place where goods were sold and literary works were circulated. The souq continued in the era of the last Prophet (peace be upon him), during the days of the Rashidun and Umayyad caliphates, until year 129 AH, when the Kharijites revolted and looted the market.
The Souq Okaz Awards became some of the most prestigious prizes in the Arab world because of their moral and material values.
They include 13 prizes worth SR2,470,000 ($658,622), and cover a wide range of creativity in terms of literature, arts, and social and human sciences.
The market is characterized by a diversity that suits all age groups. It offers a variety of cultural entertainment programs that reflect the past, keeps up with the present and looks forward to the future.
Souq Okaz offers visitors and guests rich cultural programs ranging from lectures and conferences, as well as cultural, literary, poetry and science nights, with the participation of Saudi and Arab intellectuals, writers, thinkers, and poets.

King Salman to host 1,000 Sudanese pilgrims 

Updated 22 July 2019

King Salman to host 1,000 Sudanese pilgrims 

  • 500 pilgrims are to be selected from the Sudanese army
  • Another 500 to be selected from families of Sudanese soldiers who died while fighting Houthi terrorists in Yemen

RIYADH: King Salman has issued an order to host 1,000 pilgrims from Sudan to perform Hajj, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday.

According to the directive, the 1,000 pilgrims will perform Hajj within the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ Guests Program for Hajj and Umrah, implemented and supervised by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance.

Islamic Affairs Minister Sheikh Abdullatif Al-Asheikh said that of this total, 500 pilgrims would be selected from the Sudanese army and those belonging to the families of Sudanese martyred while participating in the “Determination Storm and Restoring of Hope” operations within the Arab coalition forces supporting the legitimate government in Yemen.

This year, King Salman has ordered the hosting of 1,300 pilgrims from around the world as part of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ Guests Program for Hajj and Umrah.

Earlier, King Salman issued a directive for the hosting of 200 Hajj pilgrims from the families of victims of the terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The king also ordered 1,000 Palestinian pilgrims who are family members of martyrs to be hosted while they performed Hajj.  

Al-Asheikh said that the hosting of the families during the Hajj season was part of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to “confront and defeat terrorism” in all its forms.

So far, the number of pilgrims who have arrived in the Kingdom since the start of the Hajj season has reached 562,056, according to statistics issued by the Saudi General Directorate of Passports.

Most pilgrims — 547,505 — came to the Kingdom by air, while 8,548 entered by land and 6,003 arrived by sea, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Last year more that 1.75 million pilgrims from abroad performed Hajj, according to figures from the Saudi General Directorate of Passports.