Dhaka mission steps up support for pilgrims

Bangladeshi pilgrims gather at Hajj information center and clinics. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 08 August 2019

Dhaka mission steps up support for pilgrims

  • 40 more people have been added to the team that aids pilgrims

About 125,000 Bangladeshi pilgrims have arrived in Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj this year following a round-the-clock operation by Bangladesh’s Hajj mission in Dhaka.

“A 40-member team from the Religious Affairs Ministry has been added to the regular Hajj staffers to help the pilgrims heading to Makkah,” Saiful Islam, director of the Hajj office in Dhaka, told
Arab News.

“Although there were some visa-related issues, steps were taken to solve the problems. All willing Hajj pilgrims are now entrusted with visas,” Islam said.

The pilgrimage is due to be completed on Aug. 10.

Bangladesh’s Hajj Agencies Association, which represents private Hajj operators, praised the Hajj management in Saudi Arabia this year.

“Wonderful management — there is no hassle for the pilgrims,” Shahdat Hossain Taslim, the association’s secretary general, said.

“In Makkah and Madinah, we have launched two clinics where 127 doctors and nurses have been deployed to treat Bangladeshi pilgrims. An 18-member emergency response team will also look after the well-being of pilgrims,” he said.

Taslim said that Saudi Hajj officials were focusing on logistical issues to help the pilgrims during their stay at Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah.

Pilgrims sometimes faced difficulties due to lack of sufficient transport, he said.

“This problem can be easily solved if a few more vehicles are added.”

Bangladeshi pilgrims have welcomed the overall Hajj management in Saudi Arabia.

Arif Murshed Khan, from Cumilla, plans to perform Hajj with his wife and three maternal aunts.

“It’s amazing to see how Saudi authorities manage more than 2.5 million pilgrims from around the world. It’s a herculean task,” Khan told Arab News.

“All the pilgrims wear a wristband and a PID (personal information detail) on their chest, which helps them to meet any emergency.”

Another pilgrim, Mansura Begum, said: “I have been suffering from health problems for the past couple of days. I was worried about the availability of specialized doctors, but here at the Bangladeshi clinic I met dedicated female doctors.”

HIGHLIGHT

Round-the-clock effort helps 125,000 worshippers heading to Makkah.

According to the Bangladesh Hajj mission, 33 Bangladeshi worshippers have died during the pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia. Of these 28 were male and five female. Last year, 145 Bangladeshi pilgrims died during the pilgrimage.

Biman Bangladesh, the official carrier of the country, operated its last flight to Saudi Arabia carrying pilgrims on Monday, while the Saudi airline Saudia is scheduled to carry the last batch of pilgrims on Tuesday morning.

The two airlines began month-long Hajj flights on July 4. For the first time this year, half the Bangladeshi pilgrims have been able to complete pre-immigration formalities at Dhaka airport in line with the Saudi government’s Makkah initiative.

Pilgrims will begin returning home on Aug. 17 and post-Hajj flights will continue till Sept. 15.


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.”