Envoy reassures Saudi Arabia over Maldives emergency

Abdullah Hameed
Updated 10 February 2018
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Envoy reassures Saudi Arabia over Maldives emergency

RIYADH: The Maldives’ envoy in Saudi Arabia has sought to ease fears over escalating tensions in the island republic following the declaration of a state of emergency.
Abdullah Hameed, the ambassador to the Kingdom, said that “there is nothing to worry about since everything is normal — there is no curfew and judicial functions continue.”
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s general secretariat expressed grave concerns on Thursday over rising tensions in the Maldives following the declaration of a state of emergency on Monday by the republic’s president, Abdulla Yameen.
“Unfortunately, as usual, almost all reports (about the situation) are not factual and no one seems to be checking the reality on the ground,” Hameed told Arab News.
He said that a “Maldivian minister will visit the Kingdom soon as the special envoy of the president to explain to the Saudi leadership the correct position of the government.”
In 2017, 21,944 Saudis visited the Maldives, a 39.5 percent increase from the previous year. There are also 24 Saudis working as teachers in the island nation, in addition to embassy staff. Saudi Airlines flies to the Maldives twice a week from both Riyadh and Jeddah.
Hameed said the emergency was declared after consultation with the National Security Council over measures to guarantee citizens’ safety and security.
“Many countries across the world have increased internal security in recent years in response to domestic concerns. The Maldives should be seen in this light and is no different in this regard,” he said.
Freedom of movement and speech remained and there was no risk to tourists, Hameed said.
“The state of emergency has no effect on tourist resorts, tourist island and on tourism in general. (It) is an internal governance matter and has no implications for foreign visitors,” he said.
Schools and businesses are operating normally and the judiciary retains its full power.
Hameed said that the state of emergency affected only Male, the republic’s capital.
The Maldives opposition described the declaration of emergency as a “purge”.
Maldives police on Tuesday arrested Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed, another Supreme Court judge, administrator of the judicial services commission Hassan Saeed Hussein and former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, dramatically escalating the legal battle within the Maldives’ highest court.
Police said the men were arrested for alleged corruption and trying to overthrow the government by issuing illegal orders.


Saudi Commission for Tourism completes training for Hajj guides

Muslim worshippers perform prayers around the Kaaba, Islam's holiest shrine, at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia's holy city of Makkah on August 15, 2018, prior to the start of the annual Hajj pilgrimage in the holy city. (AFP)
Updated 17 August 2018
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Saudi Commission for Tourism completes training for Hajj guides

  • A license takes any traditional work to a professional level, and hosting pilgrims must be included in this initiative, as part of Vision 2030
  • We must look at tourism as an industry through which we present our vision, our goals and our ambitions

MAKKH: In a breakthrough initiative for Tawafa institutions, the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) has completed the training of 135 male and female Tawafa guides — religious guides for Hajj pilgrims — who have obtained tour guide licenses.
The training is the first step in a program that will enable national Tawafa establishments to obtain tour guide licenses. The ceremony for the first of the tour guides to graduate from the training course took place in Makkah on Tuesday, at the National Tawafa Establishment for Pilgrims of Arab Countries (ARBHAJ).
SCTH Director-General Dr. Hisham bin Mohammed Madani said the commission has honored more than 135 male and female “Mutawwifs,” or guides, from ARBHAJ under the partnership between the SCTH and the ARBHAJ to train Tawafa guides to obtain tour guide licenses.
Madani said this is the first phase of an initiative to train guides at all Tawafa establishments, introducing pilgrims to a new concept by helping them visit all historical and archaeological sites and museums in Makkah after performing Hajj rituals.
“Tour guides are more and more dynamic and effective in the tourism industry, and have become an important and effective source of historical information,” he said and added that the tour guide now also functions as an ambassador for the authentic culture of the Kingdom, reflecting its cultural, natural and historical heritage.
Licensing Tawaf guides as tour guides, Madani said, will enrich the tourist experience in the holy capital.
The SCTH chief noted that the city is rich with myriad cultural treasures that need someone to showcase them for tourists.
“We at SCTH presented our experience in qualifying accredited tour guides and we look forward to improving tourism outputs to match the reality and requirements of the new phase,” he said. “In order to reach this goal, we are collaborating with all partners to reach satisfactory results to deal with all nationalities, tongues and cultural backgrounds from all parts of the world with satisfaction, love and positivity.”
“We must look at tourism as an industry through which we present our vision, our goals and our ambitions. Makkah is the holy city that every Muslim looks forward to visiting after hearing about its great heritage. Our role is to provide knowledge and keep abreast of the tourist vision by qualifying and training tour guides, equipping them with the necessary skills and qualifications and honing their skills through required training programs. To this end, all partners must join their efforts and collaborate together to reach the desired goals.”

Initiative
Dr. Abdul Fattah bin Suleiman Mashat, deputy minister of Hajj and Umrah, said that the ministry is implementing an initiative to provide a professional license for everyone working at Hajj, not just in Tawaf.
He said: “A license takes any traditional work to a professional level, and hosting pilgrims must be included in this initiative, as part of Vision 2030, to focus on enriching the pilgrims’ experience, and not only on increasing their numbers.”
Mashat said it was important for pilgrims’ journeys to be coupled with trips to historical and archaeological sites. “We rely on male and female Tawaf guides to organize well-thought-out trips for the pilgrims so that they can enjoy all the historical and archaeological sites and landmarks in Makkah,” he added.