Saudi Arabia, US in search of ‘real’ Mideast peace

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Salman and US presidential adviser Jared Kushner met on Tuesday.
Updated 23 August 2017
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Saudi Arabia, US in search of ‘real’ Mideast peace

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received senior US officials including presidential adviser Jared Kushner in Jeddah on Tuesday and discussed efforts to bring about peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said.
The crown prince also discussed ways to combat terrorist financing with Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, as well as US negotiator Jason Greenblatt and Deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell, the SPA said.
The two sides talked about seeking ways to reach “a real and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians” and ensuring stability in the wider Middle East and beyond, the SPA added.
Both sides also stressed their commitment to bolstering bilateral relations.
They affirmed their joint priorities in cutting off all forms of support to terrorists and extremists, and to coordinate efforts for the development of a global center for combating deviant thought.
The meeting was attended by the Saudi Ambassador to the US Prince Khalid bin Salman, State Minister Musaid Al-Aiban and Yasir Al-Rimyan, an adviser at the Cabinet secretariat.
The White House announced the trip earlier this month, saying it was part of a regional tour including meetings with leaders from the UAE, Qatar, Jordan, Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
The US officials are expected to be in Israel on Wednesday, a White House official said. They are planning to meet separately with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday, according to AP.
Kushner, Greenblatt and Powell have been heavily involved in a behind-the-scenes process to help Trump broker peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, which the first-year president has called the “ultimate deal.”
The talks this week are aimed at helping forge a path to substantive peace negotiations, but no major breakthroughs are expected.
Trump has not outright endorsed the two-state solution, which has been at the heart of US policy for nearly two decades.
The president has urged Israel to show restraint in settlement construction but not demanded a freeze, disappointing the Palestinians. Trump also pushed back a decision on his campaign pledge to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Israel has welcomed the promise, while the Palestinians have strongly opposed it.
Kushner was charged with helping to broker a deal between Israelis and Palestinians after Trump took office.
The president visited Saudi Arabia and Israel during his first post-inauguration trip abroad and expressed a personal commitment to reaching a deal that has eluded his Republican and Democratic predecessors, according to Reuters.
On August 22, 2017, Senior Advisor to the President Jared Kushner, Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategy Dina Powell, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Arabian Gulf Affairs Tim Lenderking met with Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia and his senior advisors.  The two sides affirmed the close relationship between the two countries and committed to strengthen the relationship and close cooperation. Both sides also agreed to advance their shared goal of working toward a genuine and lasting peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and ensuring security, stability, and prosperity across the Middle East and beyond. Both sides stressed their shared priority of cutting off all support for terrorists and extremists. They also discussed the continued development of the Global Center for Combatting Extremist Ideology.
Meanwhile, the US delegation also met with Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates and his senior advisors. The two sides affirmed their close relationship and committed to strengthen their close cooperation. Both sides also agreed to advance their shared goal of achieving genuine and lasting peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and ensuring security, stability, and prosperity across the Middle East and beyond. Both sides stressed their shared priority of cutting off all support for terrorists and extremists.


Hajj 2018: What’s on pilgrims’ bucket lists

Masjid Quba in Madinah is a favorite destination for Hajj pilgrims, according to tour guides. Below: The Cave of Hira, Al-Baqi’ cemetery and the Prophet’s Chamber allow visitors to step back in time. (Getty Images)
Updated 15 August 2018
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Hajj 2018: What’s on pilgrims’ bucket lists

  • A number of companies in Makkah and Madinah help people organize their trips, making sure they cover the important sites in the two holy cities
  • Most of the sites in the two holy cities are spiritual, giving pilgrims a sense of the prophecies

RIYADH: Hajj is one of the biggest dreams of every Muslim’s life, and pilgrims looking forward to their stay in Makkah and Madinah say a bucket list is the best way to plan the trip. 

Most of the sites in the two holy cities are spiritual, giving pilgrims a sense of the prophecies. Standing in the places of the Holy Prophet transports them back to the past as if they lived those incredible moments. 

A number of companies in Makkah and Madinah help people organize their trips, making sure they cover the important sites in the two holy cities.

Sayed Shafei, an operation manager for City Sightseeing, a tour company in Madinah and worldwide, told Arab News: “We offer a special tour with a multilingual tour guide presented in eight languages. We also offer 24-hour tickets. We have scheduled tourism trips starting from the Prophet’s Mosque to 12 destinations every 30 minutes. The whole trip lasts for 14 hours a day.” 

Asked about the most popular requests, Shafei said: “Our customers always ask to visit Masjid Quba, the Sayed Al-Shuhada Mosque in Uhud, which is considered a vital historic landmark of Madinah, and Al-Qiblatain Mosque.” 

Most of the group’s customers are from East Asia, but many also visit from Kuwait, Bahrain, the UAE, Indonesia, Malaysia, the US and Europe.

Munirah Al-Jebreen, an English instructor at Princess Noura University who will perform Hajj this year, told Arab News her bucket list began with an online search. 

“I found a travel guide on Google that has all the best sites in Madinah and Makkah, so I decided to visit Uthman ibn Affan’s Farm and Well in Madinah, the Holy Qur’an exhibition, and one of the most important places I want to visit is the grave of the Holy Prophet,” she said.

The area between the Prophet’s Chamber, which holds his grave, and the Mimbar is known as the Rawdah, which is actually the Garden of Paradise. It is presently distinguished by a green carpet.

Al-Jebreen also listed some of her planned tour destinations in Makkah, including the Cave of Hira, where the Holy Prophet meditated frequently during the first 40 years of his life and the site of the first revelation. 

She will also visit Bilal Mosque and Mount Abu Qubais and, finally, will try Al-Garmushi, one of the famous traditional restaurants in Makkah.