More than 19 million pilgrims performed Umrah in 2017

File photo showing worshippers and Umra pilgrims visitors at the Grand Mosque in Makkah. (SPA)
Updated 29 May 2018
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More than 19 million pilgrims performed Umrah in 2017

  • Statistics have shown that 19, 079, 306 pilgrims have carried out Umrah in 2017.
  • The percentage of Saudi pilgrims was 46.9%, and non-Saudi pilgrims from inside the kingdom was 53.1% in 2017.

JEDDAH: More than 19 million pilgrims have performed Umrah in 2017 according to a report by Saudi Arabia’s General Statistics Authority, according to Al Ekhbariya news website.

The statistics released as part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 contain numbers of pilgrims who took part in Umrah from within Saudi Arabia and abroad last year, as well as other figures based on records by the Hajj and Umrah ministry.

Through this report, the kingdom aims to establish a database on the pilgrims visiting the Kingdom to perform Umrah in a bid to help decision makers implement regulations that serve pilgrims and aid their Umrah process.

Statistics have shown that 19, 079, 306 pilgrims have carried out Umrah in 2017. Among these were 6,532,074 pilgrims who came from abroad, according to the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah records.

While those who performed domestic Umrah from Saudis and non Saudis were 12,547,232, based on the authority’s survey.

The percentage of Saudi pilgrims was 46.9%, and non-Saudi pilgrims from inside the kingdom was 53.1%. The percentage of domestic Umrah pilgrims were 46.3% males and 37.7% females.

Results also have shown that the month of Ramadan is the most popular time of the year pilgrims choose to perform Umrah.

The percentage of pilgrims who carried Umrah during Ramadan last year was 53.6% of the total pilgrims.

The King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah recorded the highest percentage of pilgrims arrival from overseas, around 62.5%. While Umrah pilgrims who arrived in Emir Mohamad bin Abdel Aziz Airport in Madinah was 25.7%.


Saudis recall history’s greatest TV event: Apollo moon landing

Updated 57 min 38 sec ago
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Saudis recall history’s greatest TV event: Apollo moon landing

  • The TV images beamed from 320,000km away in space left viewers astounded but happy
  • The TV coverage influenced thinking and attitudes in the Kingdom just like everywhere else

DUBAI: It was a sleepy afternoon in Saudi Arabia, just days before the end of the school vacation, and Saudis had their eyes glued to their TV sets as they waited for live coverage of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Before July 20, 1969, the idea of a human walking on the moon was the stuff of science fiction. However, almost overnight, sci-fi had turned into reality with a live broadcast showing American astronaut Neil Armstrong’s dramatic descent onto the empty lunar landscape.

Between science fiction and science fact, the live coverage of the lunar landing amounted to an unusual fusion of news and entertainment.

Saudi TV technicians bring the first live images of Neil Armstrong’s 1969 moon landing to
viewers around the Kingdom. (Supplied photo)

The historic images — beamed back to Earth more than 320,000 km away — left Saudi viewers astounded and confused, but mostly elated to be witnessing such an epoch-making event.

The event was covered live on television and radio stations in Saudi Arabia. Most Saudis and residents living in the Kingdom watched it on Saudi channels 1 and 3, owned by Saudi Aramco.

Hessah Al-Sobaie, a housewife from Al-Dawadmi, recalled watching the moon landing from her grandparents’ backyard as an 11-year-old.

“It felt weird watching a human walk on the moon,” she told Arab News. “I remember the endless questions I asked as a child.”

While most people were aware that going to the moon was risky, many Saudis believed that such a journey was impossible and all but unthinkable.


EVENTS WATCH

1. NASA’s Apollo 11 mission control room in Houston has been restored to its 1969 condition and regular tours
will be conducted by the Johnson Space Center.

2. NASA ‘Science Live’ will have a special edition on July 23 on board the aircraft carrier that recovered the Apollo 11 capsule.

3. A summer moon festival and family street fair will be held in Wapakoneta, Ohio, from July 17-20.

4. Downtown Houston’s Discovery green will host a free public screening of the ‘Apollo 11’ documentary, with an appearance by NASA astronaut Steve Bowen.

5. Amateur radio operators will host a series of events on July 20-21.

6. The US Space and Rocket Center is staging a special ‘Rockets on Parade’ exhibition.


The Apollo 11 mission prompted discussions across the Middle East over the reality of what people saw on their TV screens. Some Saudi scholars found it hard to believe their eyes.

“I watched it, and I clearly remember each and every detail of the coverage,” Hayat Al-Bokhari, 68, a retired school principal in Jeddah, said.

“My father, Abdul, was 56 at the time. He said the landing was faked. He couldn’t believe or accept that a human could go to the moon.”

Khaled Almasud, 70, a retired university lecturer, was a student in the US state of Oregon at the time of the mission. “Americans were stunned and over the moon, happy with their national achievement. But many Saudis like me were either in denial or insisting on more proof.”

Since the beginning of the 1960s, King Faisal had been rapidly transforming Saudi Arabia, inviting foreign-trained experts to help build a modern country with world-class infrastructure.

Billie Tanner, now 90, lived in the Kingdom for many years with her husband, Larry, and their two children, Laurie and Scott, aged six and four. The family had just arrived in Saudi Arabia and headed to the Aramco compound in Ras Tanura in the Eastern Province.

A screengrab of video of the first lunar landing beamed toward Earth and shown on television worldwide. 

“We were going through a culture shock,” she told Arab News. “I wasn’t thinking of the moon landing, but we heard about it on the news from Dhahran.

“My kids tried to see the astronauts on the moon with their binoculars and said they could see them walking around.”

The Apollo 11 spaceflight has become a milestone in the annals of human history and science. Since 1969 space exploration has greatly expanded man’s knowledge of the universe, far beyond Earth’s limits.

The captivating live coverage of the moon landing inspired millions of people around the world, profoundly influencing their thinking and attitudes.

The people of Saudi Arabia were no exception.