Humanity in the heart of Saudi holy sites during Hajj

Updated 31 August 2017

Humanity in the heart of Saudi holy sites during Hajj

MAKKAH: During Hajj, humanitarian work grows significantly among everyone at the holy sites and people devote themselves to charity, racing and competing to do so despite the hot weather.
Many scenes reflected the presence of humanity as pilgrims started arriving in Mina to spend the day of Tarwiyah. Arab News cameras caught many of these moments during the first day of this year’s Hajj season.
Egyptian pilgrim Saber Mohammed told Arab News, as he was pushing his son in his wheelchair: “I came from Egypt to perform Hajj. My son had a car accident and can’t move so we came here asking God to heal him.”
Another Egyptian pilgrim, Abed Al-Alim, was spotted pushing his mother in her wheelchair. He said: “My mother wanted to perform Hajj this year despite her illness and her old age. However, as she insisted on coming, I accompanied her. Despite the hot weather I don’t feel any difficulty in pushing her, thanks to God. We ask Him to facilitate and accept our Hajj journey.”
Arab News also spotted a security man standing next to a pilgrim, answering all of his questions, opening the Mina maps for him and guiding him on the road to his camp.
Moreover, an Indian woman carrying her 18-month-old child despite the hot weather, was also spotted by Arab News. When she saw the camera, she started clapping to express her joy of being there. The Indian woman and the Arab News reporter couldn’t communicate due to the language barrier, but she kept repeating the word “Hamdullah.”

SEC inspects Mina camps to ensure electrical safety
The Saudi Electricity Co. (SEC) inspected the camps at Mina to ensure electrical safety before pilgrims arrive on the Day of Tarwiah. The director of the department of electricity in Makkah, Walid bin Hamid Al-Ghamdi, revealed that specialized technical teams from the SEC have conducted awareness sessions for those responsible for the camps and their employees.
“Electrical wiring connections were inspected, in addition to testing their quality. Advice and guidance on appropriate technical methods for dealing with electricity services was introduced,” Al-Ghamdi said.
He also said this advice included “awareness of how to deal with any emergency breakdown in the camp, and appropriate means of dealing with any electrical incidents, fires resulting from connections or cables, or other emergency situations.”

Al-Ghamdi has also revealed that these tours aim to ensure the full compliance of all camps with electrical safety standards, technical readiness, and to provide the necessary support in regard to any electrical issue.
The SEC has mobilized more than 1,500 experts, engineers, technicians and administrators to Makkah, Madinah and the holy places to implement the electrical operational plan for Hajj this year.
New electrical projects worth SR4.25 billion ($1.133 billion) have been implemented to ensure safe and reliable electrical service for pilgrims during all stages of the Hajj.

Saudi sources deny ‘unsubstantiated’ reports of permitting alcohol

Updated 16 June 2019

Saudi sources deny ‘unsubstantiated’ reports of permitting alcohol

  • “The leadership has made it clear from day one; it is simply not happening,”SCTH source tells Arab News
  • The SCTH is responsible for licensing and rating hotels and restaurants

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has no plans to allow the sale or public consumption of alcohol, a senior government source has told Arab News.

The official with access to relevant decision-makers categorically denied “unsubstantiated” media reports in some international and regional news outlets.

“If you read the fake news, you will notice it is all based on hearsay and tweets by accounts known to have a questionable agenda when talking about the Kingdom,” he said.

“As the country moves forward with its reform plans, we expect much speculation and attempts by critics to hold us back. And while people are allowed to speculate and criticize, their speculation should not be treated as the truth.”

A second source at the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) also denied such reports. “The leadership has made it clear from day one; it is simply not happening,” he told Arab News. “I have not heard of any plans to allow alcohol in major cities, free zones or new projects.”

The SCTH is responsible for licensing and rating hotels and restaurants. Any plans for the sale or consumption of alcohol would have to go through the commission for implementation. 

Saudi Arabia has witnessed substantial social reforms over the past three years, such as the curbing of the previously unchecked power of the religious police, reopening cinemas and allowing women to drive.

There has also been a major shift on previously prohibited public entertainment and gender mixing. International artists including Mariah Carey, Yanni, Andrea Bocelli, Enrique Iglesias and Black Eyed Peas have all performed.

Tourism projects have included pop-up versions of international restaurants such as Signor Sassi, Nusr-Et and Nobu. None has served alcohol.

“Officials have repeatedly said all changes were and will always be in line with Islamic teachings and traditions,” the senior source told Arab News.