Saudi ambassador to Indonesia meets with 40 pilgrims invited by King Salman

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In this file photo, Indonesian Muslim pilgrims sit in a tent at Mount Arafat in Makkah, Saudi Arabia. Saudi King Salman is hosting this Hajj 40 pilgrims from Indonesia, some of them women. (AFP file)
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Updated 12 August 2018
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Saudi ambassador to Indonesia meets with 40 pilgrims invited by King Salman

  • Saudi Ambassador to Indonesia Osama bin Mohammed Al-Shuaibi met with the pilgrims before his departure on Sunday

JAKARTA: Forty Indonesians, including an orphaned teenager and the secretary general of Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization, have been personally invited by King Salman to perform Hajj this year.

Saudi Ambassador to Indonesia Osama bin Mohammed Al-Shuaibi invited the party of pilgrims — which includes six women and two journalists — to his official residence in central Jakarta on Sunday morning prior to their departure for the Kingdom in the afternoon.

“The invitations were sent out to those who have contributed positively to the Muslim community,” Al Shuaibi said through a translator.

Muhammad Izhar Assahmy, a 17-year-old student from Al Irsyad Islamic boarding school in East Java, and Husaini Muhtadi Azri, a 16-year-old who is a student at Al Aziziyah Islamic boarding school in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara were among this year’s privileged pilgrims.

Azri, an orphan, said he will pray for his parents when he performs the Hajj rituals in the holy sites.

“I hope I can perform the Hajj well in accordance to the manasik I have been practicing,” Assahmy told Arab News.

Five Islamic course lecturers and the rector of the Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember (ITS) in Surabaya, East Java, were also among the pilgrims.

“I was told that the campus received some invitations from King Salman to perform the hajj and that I was invited. This is really a blessing for me,” one of the lecturers, Choirul Mafhud, told Arab News. 

Al-Shuaibi said this is the first time that journalists have been included in the roster of pilgrims invited by the king.

“About 80 percent of (the party) have never gone on Hajj before. The remaining 20 percent have performed Hajj, but they have been invited (by the king) to show his appreciation of their role for Islam in Indonesia,” the ambassador said.

Muhammad Zaitun Rasmin, the deputy secretary general of the Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI) is one of those who has previously performed Hajj. He went to university in Madinah.

“I have now been invited in my capacity as the chairman of the Southeast Asian ulema association and this is the first time I have been invited by the king,” Rasmin said.

The group will go spend a fortnight in Jeddah before going to Makkah and Madinah, he said.

“We hope we return as Hajj mabrur and this invitation from the king will strengthen Saudi Arabia’s relations with Indonesia,” Rasmin said.

Helmy Faishal Zaini, secretary general of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization said he was invited along with NU chairman Said Aqil Siradj, but that the latter had to decline due to family matters.

“I think the spirit of the king’s invitation is to maintain cooperation and understanding between Saudi Arabia and Indonesia as well as to develop a closer bond between Muslims in both countries,” he told Arab News. 

As Hajj season commences, 182,547 of Indonesia’s allotted 221,000 quota of pilgrims have reportedly arrived in Madinah and Jeddah as of Sunday .


Kanye West meets Uganda’s president, gifts pair of sneakers

Updated 15 October 2018
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Kanye West meets Uganda’s president, gifts pair of sneakers

  • Museveni said he and the American rapper held “fruitful discussions”
  • Uganda’s presidency released photos of a hoodie-wearing West meeting Museveni at the State House and exchanging gifts

KAMPALA, Uganda: Kanye West has met with Uganda’s president during a visit to the East African nation and given the 74-year-old leader a pair of white sneakers.
President Yoweri Museveni said he and the American rapper held “fruitful discussions” on Monday about promoting tourism and arts.
West and his wife, reality TV star Kim Kardashian West, have been vacationing in a national park in Uganda. He is said to be recording music in a tent.
Uganda’s presidency released photos of a hoodie-wearing West meeting Museveni at the State House and exchanging gifts.
While excited tourism officials see the visit as an endorsement of the country’s tourism potential, some Ugandans wryly pointed out that Museveni cracked down on hoodies earlier this year when he announced that motorcycle riders could no longer wear them in a bid to fight rising crime.
The president, one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders, has been at the center of unrest in recent weeks as Uganda’s large youth population increasingly expresses frustration over unemployment and accuses Museveni of being out of touch.
Uganda’s government has been criticized over its treatment of a local pop star-turned-opposition lawmaker, Bobi Wine, who alleges torture by security forces. The government denies it.