ThePlace: Grand Mosque in Makkah

Updated 16 June 2018
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ThePlace: Grand Mosque in Makkah

  • It is home to the Holy Kaaba, which is the “Qibla,” toward which all Muslims face when praying
  • In the year 692, the mosque underwent its first extensive renovation

Worshippers flocked to Eid Al-Fitr prayers at the Grand Mosque in Makkah early on Friday morning. More than two million people gathered to attend the last night of the Qur’an recitation during the holy month of Ramadan. The Grand Mosque, also called Al-Haram Mosque, or the Sacred Mosque, is the largest in the world and is located in the heart of Makkah, Saudi Arabia. It is home to the Holy Kaaba, which is the “Qibla,” toward which all Muslims face when praying. An estimated 900,000 worshippers visit the mosque each day, with that number rising to 4 million during the Hajj season. The late King Abdullah initiated a major extension project in 2007 to raise the mosque’s capacity to two million. Long before that, in the year 692, the mosque underwent its first extensive renovation. Previously, the Grand Mosque was made up of an open space with the Kaaba at its center, but Abd AlMalik ibn Marwan, the fifth Umayyad caliph, asked for the mosque’s columns to be switched from wood to marble. Additionally, he ordered the addition of a minaret. The second major reconstruction of the mosque happened in 1570, during the Ottoman era, when calligraphy-inscribed domes were added, along with additional columns — still stand-out features of the mosque today. The Grand Mosque is also home to the Well of Zamzam, which Muslims have used since Prophet Ibrahim’s era, and still supplies many Muslims and pilgrims with water. The site also includes other important areas such as the Black Stone, the Station of Ibrahim, and the hills of Safa and Marwa.


High-level investment forum aims to further boost business between Saudi Arabia and Japan

Updated 18 June 2019
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High-level investment forum aims to further boost business between Saudi Arabia and Japan

  • Japan is one of Saudi Arabia’s most important economic partners

TOKYO: More than 300 government, investment and industry leaders on Monday took part in a high-level gathering aimed at further boosting business opportunities between Saudi Arabia and Japan.

The Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) welcomed key figures from the public and private sectors to the Saudi-Japan Vision 2030 Business Forum, held in Tokyo.

Hosted in partnership with the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), the conference focused on the creation of investment opportunities in strategic sectors of the Kingdom. Delegates also discussed key reforms currently underway to enable easier market access for foreign companies.

Speaking at the event, Saudi Economy and Planning Minister Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri, said: “Today’s forum is a testimony to the success of the strategic direction set by the Saudi-Japanese Vision 2030 two years ago, which seeks to drive private-sector involvement, both by partnering with public-sector entities.”

SAGIA Gov. Ibrahim Al-Omar said: “At SAGIA, we have been working on creating a more attractive and favorable business environment in Saudi Arabia, which is making it easier for foreign companies to access opportunities in the Kingdom.”

Japan is one of Saudi Arabia’s most important economic partners. It is the Kingdom’s second-largest source of foreign capital and third-biggest trading partner, with total trade exceeding $39 billion.

JETRO president, Yasushi Akahoshi, said: “Saudi-Japan Vision 2030 has made great progress since it was first announced. Under this strategic initiative, the number of cooperative projects between our two countries has nearly doubled, from 31 to 61, and represents a diverse range of sectors and stakeholders.”

Since 2016, the Saudi government has delivered 45 percent of more than 500 planned reforms, including the introduction of 100 percent foreign ownership rights, enhancing legal infrastructure and offering greater protection for shareholders.

As a result, the Kingdom has climbed international competitiveness and ease-of-doing-business rankings, with foreign direct investment inflows increasing by 127 percent in 2018 and the number of new companies entering Saudi Arabia rising by 70 percent on a year-on-year basis in the first quarter of 2019.