Cooling rain pours down on Hajj pilgrims at Mount of Mercy

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Pilgrims in the Arafat area were hit by heavy rain and thunder storms on the second day of Hajj. (AN photo/Huda Bashatah)
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Pilgrims in the Arafat area were hit by heavy rain and thunder storms on the second day of Hajj. (AN photo/Huda Bashatah)
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Pilgrims in the Arafat area were hit by heavy rain and thunder storms on the second day of Hajj. (AN photo/Huda Bashatah)
Updated 11 August 2019

Cooling rain pours down on Hajj pilgrims at Mount of Mercy

  • Civil defense cautioned pilgrims to stay safe and to avoid low ground prone to flooding
  • Pilgrims rejoice at 'sign of mercy' and offer prayers

ARAFAT: Just as the heat became almost too much to bear, thunder cracked, the skies opened and the cooling rain began to fall. Not for nothing is it called the Mount of Mercy.

Streets began to flood within minutes of the showers, leaving muddy puddles and cooling those making their spiritual journey to and from Arafat.

While some rushed for cover, many others ran to the streets to pray.  Pilgrims wept as they raised their hands in worship on the slopes of Mount Arafat. Many had walked there through the pre-dawn darkness.

In Islam, Muslims believe that the their prayers have a higher chance of being answered when it rains.

 

Many pilgrims began to help others in need of shelter and offered clothing for those who were drenched in the rain. 

“This the first time I have come to Hajj, and it’s amazing,” pilgrim Ghada Al-Johar told Arab News. “When it rained, I went out and I cried. Every time when I saw the rain on TV during Hajj in the past I always thought, lucky them.

“One of my friends was here last year and she told me to pray to come, so I did, and here I am, my prayers have been answered.”

More than 2 million Muslims gathered on the sacred hill on Saturday for an intense day of worship and reflection that is the high point of Hajj. Among them was Danyah Bennett, 25, whose mother died only a week after her daughter’s wedding four years ago.

“I feel my mother is with me on Hajj every step of the way,” Danyah told Arab News. “I think about her a lot during Hajj. I wish she was here with me.”

As the pilgrims prayed on Mount Arafat, in Makkah a team of 160 technicians and craftsmen were replacing the Kiswa, the black silk covering for the Kaaba in the Grand Mosque. The ceremony takes place every year on the second day of Hajj.

On Saturday evening the pilgrims moved to Muzdalifah, to prepare for the symbolic stoning of the devil. 

The total number of pilgrims this year is 2,489,406, Saudi statistics chiefs said on Saturday.

The civil defense cautioned pilgrims to stay safe and to avoid low ground prone to flooding and from touching metal objects.

“I feel so happy, I feel as if my Hajj has received more mercy from Allah,” a pilgrim told Arab News in reference to the rain.

* For more pcitures of the rain on the second day of Hajj click here.


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.”