US Olympic medalist Ibtihajj Muhammad reflects on her Hajj journey

Muslim American Olympian Ibtihajj Muhammad. (AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj)
Updated 28 August 2018
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US Olympic medalist Ibtihajj Muhammad reflects on her Hajj journey

  • Ibtihajj Muhammad: The best experiences was seeing people from different parts of the world unite in devotion to their faith
  • The American Olympian lauded the Kingdom's efforts for the organization of Hajj this year

MINA: Muslim American Olympian Ibtihajj Muhammad, who performed Hajj this year, told Arab News that during her pilmgrimage one of the best experiences was seeing people from different parts of the world unite in devotion to their faith. 

“It is something as a Muslim growing up and living in the US that you don’t get the opportunity to see. I feel I get that sense when I travel to the Middle East, particularly this trip to Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj — it is something I will never forget,” she said. 

Ibtihajj did not know she was coming to Saudi Arabia for Hajj until about three weeks before it began. She was invited by Dar Al Islam travel agency. “I felt like it was something Allah called on me to perform Hajj and I was very excited. I was also very apprehensive and did not know what to expect; as you read and try to prepare for the journey it is more than anything you can anticipate. It feels like a blessing and I am really excited,” she said.

Ibtihajj said her visa process was easy and fast; it took one day to obtain. Her journey was long due to the fact that she traveled from Los Angeles, California and had a few flights before arriving to Saudi Arabia.

The American Olympian lauded the Kingdom's efforts for the organization of Hajj this year. “To the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia I thank you for having me; it has been a really transformative experience.” In her opinion Saudi Arabia had done a really good job to accommodate millions of people; she said that she can only imagine how difficult it is.

Ibtihajj felt that Madinah was one of the most peaceful places that she has been to during her trip to Saudi Arabia and said it was a great starting point to prepare and acclimatize to “Saudi Arabia and to prepare for Hajj itself.” 

“Once I had arrived to see the Kaaba for the first time — it is something that you read about it and hear about from your parents — but to see it for the first time for yourself and to see so many pilgrims walking around it was one of the greatest sights I have ever seen. It is something that you dream of and you pray that Allah invites you, so to have the opportunity to do that was very exciting,” she said.

Ibtihajj Muhammad is a member of the US fencing team. She is best known for being the first Muslim American woman to wear a hijab while competing for the US in the Olympics. She earned bronze at the Games, becoming the first female Muslim-American athlete to earn a medal at the Olympics.


Crown prince: Saudi investment in India to reach $100bn

Updated 30 min 13 sec ago
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Crown prince: Saudi investment in India to reach $100bn

  • Mohammed bin Salman says value of investments to increase rapidly over next two years
  • Modi praised relations between the two countries after signing cooperation agreements

DUBAI: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said on Wednesday he expects Saudi Arabia’s investments in India will be worth $100 billion in the next two years.

During a press conference with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the crown prince said the Kingdom had invested $10 billion in technology and small companies in India which had “achieved very remarkable returns.”

Speaking on the second day of hist India visit, and after the signing of five agreements with Modi, the crown prince also said that there were many opportunities for India in Saudi Arabia.

“We expect that the opportunity we are developing in India in many fields will exceed 100 billion dollars over the next two years,” Prince Mohammed said. “We want to work as two governments to ensure these investments and achieve beneficial returns for both countries. 

“We also hope that relations between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and India will contribute to providing more opportunities for Indian laborers and manpower to contribute to the future of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and building the Kingdom's Vision 2030.”

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READ MORE: 

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman pledges commitment to Saudi-Indian relations

Greeted with a hug: Saudi crown prince welcomed to India by PM Modi

Full Asia tour coverage 

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The crown prince spoke of the depth and history of relations between the two countries, acknowledging the role Indian labor and businesses had played in the Kingdom’s development.

He also said the economic partnerships were grounded in the two nation’s similar challenges - “extremism, terrorism and the security of the Indian Ocean.”

He said Modi’s visit to the Kingdom in 2016 had achieved investments worth $44 billion in refining and petrochemicals.

The two countries planned to expand India’s oil storage capacity to make India an “important regional center in distributing oil and its products.”

"As a neighbor who guarantees suppying us with energy needs, the Kingdom is considered India's most important partner," Modi said. "We have enhanced our relations through establishing a strategic partnership."

The crown prince and Modi earlier oversaw the signing of agreements in the fields of investment, tourism, housing and information and broadcasting.

It was also announced that the Kingdom would join the International Solar Alliance, a group of countries focussed on improving solar technology.

Prince Mohammed then met a number of CEOs from India's leading businesses.

The crown prince arrived in India after a two-day trip to Pakistan as part of a tour of Asia.

Earlier he attended a ceremonial welcome in New Delhi after landing in the country on Tuesday evening.