6.2m Umrah visas issued

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Muslims pray and gather around the holy Kaaba at the Grand Mosque during the holy fasting month of Ramadan in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, in this June 8, 2016 photo. (REUTERS)
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RIGHTEOUSNESS: Ramadan’s first Friday saw the faithful coming to the Grand Mosque in their thousands for Umrah and tawaf. (AN photo by Ahmed Hashad)
Updated 11 June 2016
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6.2m Umrah visas issued

JEDDAH: The Kingdom has issued this season over 6.28 million visas for Umrah pilgrims, with an estimated 900,000 expected in Makkah this Ramadan, according to a media report on Friday.
The figures till June 9 show that over 5.47 million pilgrims have already entered the country. Most visas were issued to Egypt at 1.296 million, Pakistan at 968,550, Turkey at 470,944, and Jordan fourth at 426,326, most of which were issued to Iraqi citizens.
Khalid Al-Shamsan, executive director of an Umrah company, said that there has been a decline in Umrah visas issued to some countries because of poor economic conditions in the region and globally. The Ministry of Haj and Umrah only issues new visas once pilgrims who are in the country leave, he said.
Waleed Abu Sabaa’, an investor in the Umrah sector, said this year has seen more Umrah pilgrims than last year, but there has been a general decline in visa applications over the previous years. Most pilgrims applied during Shabaan and confirmed their bookings. Applications close on Ramadan 15, he said.
Meanwhile, authorities are implementing a major health and safety plan. Hmour Al-Ayadah, director for safety at the Grand Mosque, said there are measures in place to help elderly and sick people, with emergency exits ready for quick evacuation. There are also areas to store property and equipment.


Elite leaders and inventors gather in Riyadh for global youth forum

This year’s schedule is being kept under wraps until Wednesday. (AFP)
Updated 53 min ago
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Elite leaders and inventors gather in Riyadh for global youth forum

  • Keynote speakers at previous events have included the UAE Minister State for Youth Affairs, Shamma Al-Mazrui, Queen Rania of Jordan and Microsoft founder Bill Gates
  • The foundation will present the Global Youth Index, covering youth trends across 25 countries

RIYADH: The Misk Global Forum will open in Riyadh on Wednesday with an eye on the future, reflected in the theme for the third annual event: “Skills for Our Tomorrow.” 

The theme is very much in keeping with the aim of the Misk Foundation, a non-profit organization established by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2011 to develop and empower Saudi youth to become active participants in the future economy.

Also at this year’s forum, the foundation will present the Global Youth Index, covering youth trends across 25 countries.

Since its first year in 2016, the forum has become an anticipated event for young Saudis, who get to connect with leaders and innovators from around the world in a series of workshops and panels.

“In addition to hosting an elite group of speakers, the forum also offers a unique opportunity for young leaders, inventors and creators to interact with renowned global leaders and inventors,” Shaima Hamidaddin, the forum’s program lead, explains on the website.

“Throughout the interactive sessions, youth from all over the world can discover, experience and experiment new concepts and insights to meet the challenge of change.”

Each year, MGF chooses a different theme. In 2016, it was “Young Leaders Together,” aimed at empowering a generation of entrepreneurs in the region, while in 2017 it was “Meeting the Challenge of Change.” 

Keynote speakers at previous events have included the UAE Minister State for Youth Affairs, Shamma Al-Mazrui, Queen Rania of Jordan and Microsoft founder Bill Gates. 

This year’s schedule is being kept under wraps until Wednesday, but workshops and panels will address three key points: Thriving as adaptable individuals, adjusting to the human-machine partnership and revamping uniquely human collaboration. 

These are broken down into five core skills that will enhance the way young people live and work in the future: Novel thinking, social intelligence, judgment and decision making, adaptability and resilience, and initiative and self-direction.   

More than 3,500 delegates and 100 speakers are expected to attend this year’s forum at Four Seasons Riyadh on Wednesday and Thursday.