Last Hajj ritual heralds Eid Al-Adha

A frail, elderly pilgrim found himself in the safe hands of a Saudi soldier after he spotted him in Mina struggling to complete Hajj rites. (Saud Almosihij / @O03oK)
Updated 12 August 2019

Last Hajj ritual heralds Eid Al-Adha

  • 2.5m pilgrims in symbolic stoning of devil
  • King Salman, crown prince receive well-wishers

MINA: They began walking before dawn, hundreds of thousands of men and women, clad in white robes to signify a state of purity.

Their destination was Jamarat Al-Aqaba, and a three-story bridge from where they each threw seven pebbles at a pillar to symbolize the stoning of the devil — the last major ritual of the Hajj pilgrimage, heralding the start of Eid Al-Adha.

Large fans sprayed water over the crowds as temperatures soared. “It is hot, I drink a lot of water,” said Jaker Akjar, 48, a pilgrim from India on his first Hajj.

Over the next two days nearly 2.5 million pilgrims will complete the stoning ritual — 1.85 million from more than 160 countries, and a further 634,000 from inside Saudi Arabia. They will then return to Makkah, where they will pray at the Grand Mosque and circle the Kaaba seven times anti-clockwise.

Among them will be Islam Ali, a student, who traveled from Sudan. “I am really looking forward to seeing the Kaaba again,” she told Arab News. “It is, of course, the most amazing experience. I’m impressed by how organized it is in Makkah, despite the number of people — the officials have done a great job.”

Hassan Mustapha Ali, a pharmacist from Jordan, said: “It’s my first time and it’s been amazing. We used to watch Hajj on TV so it’s an incredible feeling to have the opportunity to fulfil this Islamic obligation.”

Throughout Hajj, members of Saudi Arabia’s security forces and civil defense volunteers have been working to ensure the safety of the pilgrims throughout the holy sites. They hand out water, act as quick-response teams helping those who struggle with the walking and heat, and they guide pilgrims — ensuring the safe flow of people through the crowded spaces, many of which are narrow pedestrian roads.

“It’s been great, Civil Defense volunteer Essam Al-Moalami told Arab News. “I feel so proud to help these people and to serve my country. It’s the second year in row that I have done this and I hope to do it next year too.”

King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received well-wishers on Sunday afternoon at a palace gathering attended by royals, clerics, military leaders, ministers and distinguished guests to mark the first day of Eid Al-Adha, the feast of the sacrifice.

Saudi Arabia had “fulfilled its duty for the sake of Allah and welcomed the guests of Allah without exception, and provided them with all the services needed to perform their Hajj rituals with ease, comfort, security and tranquillity,” the king said in a televised speech.


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.”