Experts take part in tour of Saudi Arabia’s geological treasure sites

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The Saudi Geological Survey (SGS) organized a trip to Madinah for guests of the 12th International Geological Congress. (Supplied)
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The Saudi Geological Survey (SGS) organized a trip to Madinah for guests of the 12th International Geological Congress. (Supplied)
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The Saudi Geological Survey (SGS) organized a trip to Madinah for guests of the 12th International Geological Congress. (Supplied)
Updated 10 February 2018
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Experts take part in tour of Saudi Arabia’s geological treasure sites

RIYADH: The Saudi Geological Survey (SGS) organized a trip to Madinah for guests of the 12th International Geological Congress under the title “Our Goods from Our Land.”
SGS spokesman Tareq Aba Al-Khail said that experts from the Kingdom, the US, Egypt, Greece, Italy, and France took part in the trip, and they participated in the sessions and workshops organized in cooperation with the Saudi Society for Earth Sciences.
Aba Al-Khail added that the delegation inspected the Albint dam (Dam of the Girl) in the village of Thamad in Khaybar, which is an architectural masterpiece built thousands of years ago. The length of the dam is about 170 meters, with a height of 40 meters, and it is built at the junction of two great valleys. Aba Al-Khail noted that parts of the dam previously collapsed because of an earthquake that hit the surrounding area despite being constructed of huge rocks.
He said that the delegation also visited the cave of Um Gursan in Khyber, one of the largest caves in the Arab world with a length of 1,500 meters, a maximum height of 12 meters and a width of 45 meters. The cave is about 3 million years old, and it is surrounded by a wall at the top to protect it from falling dust. There are also ladders to facilitate the smooth flow of visitors, and it contains important archaeological assets, such as human skulls and bones of predatory animals. There are writings dating back thousands of years and Aba Al-Kail noted that the cave is destined to become a tourist attraction in the future.
The trip highlighted many distinctive geological features, noting that the SGS was able to acquaint the participants with a part of the heritage of the Kingdom so they could convey images and information to their countries.
He also revealed that the SGS nominated 15 caves for the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) to convert into tourist attractions.


Saudi Arabia greets 1.68m pilgrims, passport chief reveals

Maj. Gen. Sulaiman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Yahya speaks in Jeddah on Wednesday. (SPA)
Updated 16 August 2018
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Saudi Arabia greets 1.68m pilgrims, passport chief reveals

  • The Ministry of Interior has been working hard every year to make Hajj successful and easy by using technology to facilitate Hajj permits
  • The number of pilgrims increases annually which is a good sign of a successful Hajj

JEDDAH: More than 1.68 million Hajj pilgrims had arrived in the Kingdom by noon on Thursday, the General Directorate of Passports announced.
Maj. Gen. Sulaiman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Yahya, director general of passports, told a press conference: “Up to this moment, our air, land and sea checkpoints have warmly received 1,684,629 pilgrims from different countries of the world.”
According to Al-Yahya, 1,584,085 pilgrims have arrived by air, 84,381 entered the country via land crossing points, and 16,163 came by sea.
“Under close supervision by the minister of interior, Prince Abdul Aziz bin Saud bin Naif, and a daily follow-up by the Makkah governor, Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, we had an early plan to efficiently receive Hajj worshippers. For that reason, we have all qualified personnel and modern technology available for their service so that the arrival process is done in a short time as possible,” he said.
Al-Yahya said that well-trained staff members were present to prevent lawbreakers from entering the holy sites.
“The role of these workers is to take hold of law violators and impose penalties on them. They are working 24 hours a day. For example, a driver who illegally transports pilgrims into Makkah will be fined SR10,000 ($2,600) for every passenger he is caught transporting,” Al-Yahya said.
The violation would also bring a 15-day jail sentence.
“When the same violator commits the same felony, a SR25,000 fine will be imposed for every passenger he is carrying, in addition to two months in jail. Third-time offenders will spend six months in jail and will have to pay a fine of SR50,000,” he said.
He said that about 18 drivers have been detained following violations. Punishments will vary since some were caught using relatives’ cars.
Al-Yahya said a pilgrims’ departure plan was in place to assist worshippers in departing for their countries after their rituals have been completed.
Al-Yahya highlighted the contribution of women in the passports system during Hajj.
“We have 107 women officials working at the King Abdul Aziz International Airport. There are others in different locations, such as Prince Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz International Airport in Madinah, where 58 female agents are working.”
Al-Yahya said that the directorate is using the latest technology to counter passport counterfeiting, a growing problem around the world.
He praised the Makkah Route project, saying pilgrims had been able to enter the Kingdom with minimal delay and without complications.
Pilgrims on this route took no more than 35 minutes to leave their flights and board buses for the holy city.
“Even on their way to Makkah, they don’t need to stop at checkpoints,” he said.

‘Makkah Road’ pilgrims
Thursday morning saw the arrival in Saudi Arabia of the final flights of this year’s “Makkah Road” initiative. The project, which was implemented this year, has seen 103,057 pilgrims arrive to perform Hajj on 240 flights from Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta to Jeddah and Madinah.
Al-Yahya said that the initiative has been a huge success, and represents just one of many projects that the Supreme Hajj Committee is developing under the direction of Prince Abdul Aziz bin Saud bin Naif.