Egypt’s grand mufti lauds Saudi Arabia’s services to Muslims

The shaikh of Al-Azhar, Dr. Ahmed Al-Tayeb, receives Saudi Minister of Islamic Affairs Dr. Abdullatif bin Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh and the accompanying delegation in Cairo on Monday. (SPA)
Updated 22 January 2019
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Egypt’s grand mufti lauds Saudi Arabia’s services to Muslims

  • The mufti said that Egypt and Saudi Arabia would continue to work together to maintain stability in the Middle East.

JEDDAH: Dr. Shawki Allam, the grand mufti of Egypt, received the Saudi minister of Islamic affairs, Dr. Abdullatif bin Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh.

Allam hailed the Kingdom’s participation in the 29th International Conference of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, which was organized by the Egyptian Ministry of Awqaf (religious endowments) and ended on Sunday.

He praised the Kingdom, under the leadership of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, for serving Muslims around the world. He said that Egypt and Saudi Arabia would continue to work together to maintain stability in the Middle East.

Allam also highlighted Saudi Arabia’s supervision of the Hajj and said the country’s organization of the pilgrimage was “getting better and better” every year.

Al-Asheikh said he was delighted to meet Allam. The Saudi minister highlighted the strong relations between the two countries. He said that the Kingdom was steadily moving forward through its program of reforms.

The meeting was also attended by deputy minister of Islamic affairs, Dr. Yousef bin Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz bin Saeed; Undersecretary of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dr. Abdullah bin Mohammed Al-Samil; the director of religious affiliations at the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulwahid Al-Arifi; adviser to the grand mufti of Egypt, Dr. Magdy Ashour; the fatwa secretary of Dar al-Ifta, Dr. Ahmed Mamdouh; and Dr. Mustafa Thabet, who is in charge of blasphemy refutation.

Festival

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)’s first festival will start on Feb. 5 in Cairo and allow Muslims around the world to become closer, the body’s secretary-general said on Monday.

Dr. Yousef bin Ahmed Al-Othaimeen said the aim of the festival was to bring people from member and non-member states together so they could engage with each other intellectually, politically and socially, as well as share stories about their traditions. The festival aims to promote solidarity on the basis of a shared religion, he said, and position the OIC as the world’s second-biggest international humanitarian organization after the UN.

The regular event would also highlight the economic opportunities, humanitarian work, and political development successes in member states, in addition to reviewing the situation of Muslim minorities in non-Muslim countries. The Cairo festival will feature crafts, traditional costume, fine arts, seminars, poetry sessions, guided tours and even a marathon. It ends Feb. 9.


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

Updated 20 July 2019
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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.