Saudi air defense forces shoot down Houthi missile aimed at Makkah

The holy Kaaba at the Grand Mosque in Makkah is packed with worshipers in this file photo taken during Ramadan in June 2017. The Iran-backed Houthi militia in Yemen launched a missile aimed at Makkah on Thursday night but it was intercepted by Saudi air defense forces. (SPA file photo)
Updated 29 July 2017

Saudi air defense forces shoot down Houthi missile aimed at Makkah

JEDDAH: Saudi air defense forces intercepted a ballistic missile launched by Yemen’s Houthi militias on Thursday night toward the holy city of Makkah, according to the Arab Coalition command.
In a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency, the coalition command said the missile was shot down over Al-Wasliya area in Taif province, some 69 kilometers away from the holy city. No damage or injuries were reported.
The missile attack was “clearly a desperate attempt to disrupt the Hajj season,” said the statement.
The alliance command confirmed that the non-stop trafficking of missiles into Yemeni territory comes from the lack of control and monitoring at Al-Hodeida Port in western Yemen, “as well as the misuse of permits granted by the alliance to relief and goods shipments.”
The coalition said that “missile trafficking” is going on because of “the world community’s failure to take a decision to prevent such violations that prolong the war and endanger the lives of civilians.”
“The alliance reiterates its support for the decision of the legitimate Yemeni government for the endeavor of the UN envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Al-Chieck, to impose control on this vital sea outlet,” the coalition statement said.
Earlier, the Saudi-led coalition urged the UN to take control of Hodeida Port to enable the continuous flow of humanitarian support for civilians, but the UN refused to take responsibility. The Iran-backed Houthis have continued to disrupt operations at the key port despite an offensive by the coalition.
Thursday’s missile attack was the second to be aimed at Makkah. On Oct. 27, 2016, a Houthi missile launched from Yemen toward the holy city was shot down by Saudi air defense forces before it could reach its target.
Houthi forces have also launched numerous attacks on other targets, mostly along the Saudi border with Yemen, killing more than 100 soldiers and civilians.
Saudi Arabia, along with the UAE, organized the coalition in 2015 to support the UN-recognized government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi amid an onslaught of Houthi militias and loyalist forces of former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The coalition has accused Iran of arming the Houthis as part of Tehran’s destabilization efforts in the region.
The secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Yousef Al-Othaimeen, stated that the outrageous attempted assault on Makkah once again, after the first attempt last year in October, undoubtedly affirms the insistence of the Houthi and Saleh militias to target the holy sites in the Kingdom in implementation of conspiratorial plans against the country, its citizens and residents.
He described it as a futile attempt to destabilize the Hajj season, and an attack on all Muslims in the world, given the sacred city’s holiness as the cradle of revelation.
Al-Othaimeen said that this attack reflects very clearly the lack of seriousness on the part of the Houthi and Saleh militias to end the conflict in Yemen through peaceful means.
He reiterated the support of the OIC for the legitimate Yemeni government and for the efforts of the UN to find political solutions that will guarantee the security and stability of Yemen, while preserving its unity and territorial integrity.
He also reaffirmed the organization’s support for the ongoing efforts by Saudi Arabia to bring about peace in Yemen and to support its legitimate institutions. He affirmed the full solidarity of the OIC in all steps and measures the Kingdom takes to safeguard the country’s security and stability.

Kaaba’s replacement cloth fitted in record time

The crews of workers had 210 minutes to complete the task - they did it in 180. (SPA)
Updated 22 min 41 sec ago

Kaaba’s replacement cloth fitted in record time

  • The work was carried out while pilgrims continued to circumambulate the Kaaba
  • A team of 160 workers carry out the task in record time, while pilgrims continue around them

MAKKAH: The Holy Kaaba donned a new Kiswa — a famous black cloth that covers the holiest shrine toward which Muslims face in prayer — on Monday morning after the dawn prayer.
The ceremony that involved at least 160 technicians and manufacturers was held under the supervision of Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, the chief of the General Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques.
The Kiswa is changed every year on the ninth day of Dul Hijjah following a tradition of the General Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques.
“After the dawn prayer on the ninth day of the month of Dul Hijjah, the old Kiswa of the Kaaba is replaced by the new one, embellished by gold-plated thread illustrating verses from the Holy Qur’an,” said Ahmad bin Mohammed Al-Mansouri, director-general of the King Abdul Aziz Complex for the Kaaba.
Al-Mansouri said the new Kiswa is 658-square-meter long and is made of 670 kilograms of pure silk. For embroidery, 120 kilograms of gold thread and 100 kilograms of silver thread were used.
The Kaaba cover was manufactured at King Abdul Aziz Complex for Holy Kaaba Kiswa, which has more than 200 Saudi employees qualified and trained in the industry, added Al-Mansouri. The complex also contains the largest sewing machine in the world with a length of 16 meters.
Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Sudais delivered a speech praising the leadership of the country for putting the service of the Holy Kaaba, the holy sites and the pilgrims at the top of its priorities.

Each year Muslims from all over the world wait for the ninth day of Dul Hijjah to witness the process of replacing the cover of the Kaaba with a new one. The members of the General Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques and the Kiswa Factory of the Holy Kaaba take down the old Kiswa and replace it with a new one made of pure silk.

The Kiswa’s fabric is produced in the form of large pieces, each 10 centimeters wide and and 14 meters long. Each side of the Kaaba is constructed individually according to the width of each side.
The pieces are connected while maintaining the design, and then lined with cotton cloth (the same width and length), and sewn.
Due to the weight of the curtain of the Kaaba’s door, the curtain is directly attached to the wall of the Kaaba. Before changing the Kiswa, a committee of specialists in the factory review and install the embroidered pieces.

Kiswa Factory
The Kiswa Factory producing the covering for the Kaaba is keen on hiring skilled workers in all sections. This factory was built when King Abdul Aziz Al-Saud issued order to establish a separate house for the manufacturing of the Kaaba cloth in 1927.
The factory was renovated and modernized in 1976 in Umm Al-Joud in Makkah and equipped with latest machines for preparing the fabric. Even though the factory has high-tech machines for the fabric, they retained the method of manual production because of its high artistic value.


The factory continues to keep pace with the development, and preserve the ancient handmade heritage to produce the best Kiswa each year.
The cost of the Kiswa is approximately SR22 million ($5.8 million).
Natural silk
The fabric is made of pure natural silk, which is dyed in black. Its height is 14 meters. The upper third of the belt is 95 centimeters wide and 47 meters long, and consists of 16 pieces surrounded as a square shape of Islamic patterns or motifs.
The belt contains Qur’anic verses, each in a separate frame, and in the spaces between, in the shape of crescent, praise to and the names of Allah can be found. The belt is embossed with embroidery covered with a gold plated silver cord, which surrounds the whole Kaaba.
The cover includes a curtain of Kaaba’s door. Called a burqa, or veil, the curtain is made of silk, and is six-and-a-half-meters high and three-and-a-half-meters wide, with Qur’anic verses decorated with Islamic motifs that are embossed and covered with gold-plated silver thread. This special thread comes from Germany.
The Kiswa consists of five pieces of cloth, each covering the Kaaba on four sides and the fifth is the burqa. All these pieces are connected to each other.

The Kiswa Factory goes through several stages: The first is dyeing, in which imported raw silk is dyed in black, red or green.
The second stage is the fabric, in which the dyed fabric is converted into either silk cloth to be printed and then embroidered on the belt or curtain, or converted to the jacquard fabric.
The third phase is printing, where all the lines and patterns in the belt or curtain are printed on the cloth in the manner of wire screen in preparation for embroidery. And finally the collecting stage, in which the jacquard fabric is attached to each other to form the four sides of the Kiswa and then attaching it to the belt and the curtain, in preparation for its installation above the Kaaba.
These stages are carried out in all sections of the factory, which include manual weaving, automatic weaving, printing, flags, curtain and dyeing and construction of the belt. More than 200 qualified employees work in the factory who are considered the greatest calligraphers and artists in the Muslim world.
The factory creates the external and internal Kiswa, as well as flags and pieces that the country gives to important figures.



The new Kiswa is 658-square-meters long and is made of 670 kilograms of pure silk. For embroidery, 120 kilograms of gold thread and 100 kilograms of silver thread were used.