New Zealand’s most senior Muslim police officer thanks King Salman for making Hajj dream come true

Superintendent Naila Hassan of the New Zealand police. (Supplied photo)
Updated 09 August 2019

New Zealand’s most senior Muslim police officer thanks King Salman for making Hajj dream come true

  • Superintendent Naila Hassan praises Saudi Arabia for Hajj ‘generosity’
  • "As much as it’s a journey for me, I’m here for the victims," she says in a video

JEDDAH: Just over four months ago, police superintendent Naila Hassan was giving an emotional speech at a vigil in New Zealand for the 51 people murdered in the Christchurch mosque terrorist attack.

Now Hassan, New Zealand’s most senior Muslim police officer, is in Makkah to take part in the Hajj pilgrimage — and her dream has come true.

“As a Muslim, you just dream about seeing the Kaaba and going to Makkah and Madinah,” she said in a video thanking Saudi King Salman for hosting the Christchurch pilgrims.

“When I saw the Kaaba this morning, I was breathless, I really was.

“But … as much as it’s a journey for me, I’m here for the victims … I’m here particularly for the women and the widows that are here. I’m here to support them.”

Vigil in Auckland

Hassan described how she and about 200 other pilgrims were welcomed with petals, singing and gifts. “I’ve never experienced anything like it in my life,” she said.

“I’m thanking King Salman for his generosity. He has just been unbelievably generous to the people of New Zealand.”

The day after the March 15 Christchurch massacre, Hassan gave a speech at a vigil in Auckland in support of the Muslim community and fellow New Zealanders.

Opening with the Islamic greeting, she reassured the crowd that police were providing support to the Muslim community and everyone affected.

Saudi Arabia's Islamic Affairs Minister Sheikh Abdullatif Al-Asheikh said on Sunday that hosting the Christchurch pilgrims was part of Saudi efforts to “confront and defeat terrorism” in all its forms.


Two new academies to boost Saudi arts, heritage and music

Updated 19 August 2019

Two new academies to boost Saudi arts, heritage and music

  • One academy specializing in heritage and traditional arts and crafts will start receiving applications in autumn 2020
  • A second academy dedicated to music will receive 1,000 students and trainees from 2021

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia is to set up arts academies, including two in the next two years, offering a step toward academic qualification and enlarging the Kingdom’s footprint in heritage, arts and crafts, and music.

The initiative is part of the Ministry of Culture’s Quality of Life program. 

The minister, Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan, said investment in “capacity building” was one of the most important elements in encouraging the cultural sector, which enjoyed unlimited support from King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The Kingdom was rich in diverse arts, talents and artistic production, Prince Badr said, and the academies would be a first step toward academic qualification in the arts within the Kingdom.

One academy specializing in heritage and traditional arts and crafts will start receiving applications in autumn 2020, targeting 1,000 students and trainees in long- and short-term programs. 

A second academy dedicated to music will receive 1,000 students and trainees from 2021.

The music academy in particular will be “the core of music production and talent development in Saudi Arabia,” Saudi musician, composer and producer Mamdouh Saif told Arab News.

The music industry was a large and diverse field, Saif said, and education was crucial. 

“The academy is the right place to launch the music industry in Saudi Arabia, and it will have a significant impact on Saudi youth, and young people in surrounding countries,” he said.

He expects “a very high turnout” for the academy among young Saudis. 

“Due to my expertise in this area, I receive many questions from people who want to learn music, but through private lessons,” he said.

“But the availability of an academy for this purpose, that teaches music in a methodological way, will be the right start for those interested in music.”