New Sri Lankan envoy vows to take ties with KSA to greater heights

Sri Lanka’s new Consul General Faizer Mackeen.
Updated 03 August 2016
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New Sri Lankan envoy vows to take ties with KSA to greater heights

RIYADH: The incoming consul general of Sri Lanka has pledged to take the Saudi Arabia-Sri Lanka relations to greater heights and is upbeat about taking charge at a time when the Haj season is around the corner.
Faizer Mackeen performed the umrah with his family as soon as he arrived in the Kingdom on Sunday, before taking over office in Jeddah the following day.
Mackeen succeeds former diplomat Adam Bawa Uthumalebbe, who left the Kingdom a year ago on completion of his tenure .
Speaking to Arab News, the diplomat said he considers it a great opportunity to serve his motherland from the holy land.
Mackeen said his main mission is to lift the image of his country in the Kingdom and explore new areas of cooperation in trade and investment.
“I have come at the right time when the Haj season is about to begin. This year, a quota of 2,240 pilgrims has been allowed from Colombo. We have made a special request to Saudi Arabia to increase the Haj quota,” he said.
There are some 97 Haj operators in the country, he said, pointing out that some 60,000 Umrah pilgrims come here through a network of 140 Umrah operators.
The diplomat also highlighted that Sri Lanka is fast becoming a tourist destination for tourists from the Middle East, with the highest number from the Kingdom.
He said that a good number of Lankan Muslims are currently studying in various universities in the Kingdom, which has been providing soft loans as and when required by the country.
The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) in Jeddah offers scholarships to outstanding students to pursue higher studies in engineering, medicine, dentistry, agriculture and ITC in the universities in Sri Lanka.
Addressing his staff members at the consulate, Mackeen called for their cooperation to carry out his tasks successfully. He told them that as public servants, each one of them is duty bound to serve their countrymen working in the western province.


Hajj and politics don't mix, says Saudi minister

Hajj and Umrah Minister Mohammed Saleh Banten. (Ziyad Alarfaj)
Updated 15 August 2018
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Hajj and politics don't mix, says Saudi minister

  • Saudi Arabia has no condition to impose on any Muslim coming only to perform their Hajj rituals in peace, says minister
  • The minister also highlighted the importance of the Makkah Route project to ease Hajj for the pilgrims

MAKKAH: The Hajj and Umrah ministry made it clear, once again, that there is no place for politics during Hajj.

This was reiterated by Hajj and Umrah Minister Mohammed Saleh Banten during the annual press conference at the Hilton Makkah Convention Hotel on Wednesday.

“Saudi Arabia has no condition to impose on any Muslim coming only to perform their Hajj rituals in peace,” he said.

He added that the conditions are only related to Allah, who ordered all capable Muslims to do their Hajj to the holy cities in peace and tranquility.

The minister highlighted the importance of the Makkah Route project to ease Hajj for the pilgrims. However, he noted that the technology his ministry is using to facilitate the Hajj process will limit the project to a few countries.

“We will surely expand the project, especially with the countries from which we annually receive a large number of pilgrims. In fact, if we apply the Route on six or seven countries, the process of pilgrims’ arrival will go smoothly and that will end many obstacles,” he said.

He added that the new technology they are using will make every pilgrim fully aware of his program and schedule of religious duties during Hajj.

“Moreover, the camps of pilgrims are equipped with TV devices through which we can transmit information and instructions to the pilgrims in their tents,” he said.

The Deputy minister for Hajj and Umrah, Abdul Fattah Al-Mashat, pointed out that the ministry has long adopted the use of technology to better serve the “Guests of Allah.”

“We are now using the latest technology to help pilgrims perform their rituals in all possible ease and comfort. 

The minister launched the 43rd Hajj Symposium for this year with the presence of senior Muslim scholars from different parts of the Muslim world. The symposium will conclude Thursday here at the Hilton Makkah Convention Hotel.

At the beginning of the event, the Hajj and Umrah minister emphasized that the symposium embodies the carefulness of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and the Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman. He stressed: “This event is part of the role the Kingdom has been playing in spreading Islam’s moderate teachings. 

“The symposium highlights the values and the true message of Hajj. It also stresses the importance of Hajj in spreading intimacy among Muslims,” he said.

The minister stressed the role of the Muslim scholars and intellectuals attending the symposium through the researches that focus on introducing the meaning of Hajj as a religious and scientific gathering, through which Muslims from all parts of the world meet and interact.

“The Kingdom understands quite well what message it has in the service of the two holy mosques, in particular, and whole Islamic Umma, in general. It is very keen to call to Islam and unite the Umma through Hajj,” he said.

On the other hand, Chief of the General Presidency for the Two Holy Mosques Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Sudais stressed the importance of the symposium, which has been held for the 43rd time, and the role of the Hajj and Umrah ministry in gathering the Muslim scholars during the Hajj. He also called upon all pilgrims to deal with Hajj as a means to control themselves.

The first session of the symposium was moderated by Dr. Abdullah Bafeel. Member of the Senior Ulama council and consultant to the royal court Sheikh Saleh bin Humaid talked about the Farewell Sermon. The Islamic Affairs Minister of Mauritania, Sheikh Ahmed Dawood, gave a future vision for Muslim unity. Meanwhile, the Head of Sharia Courts in Bahrain, Sheikh Abdullah Al-Hai, discussed moderation and tolerance as a method for a better life.

The second session, which saw the launching of the event, saw the Saudi minister of Islamic Affairs, Sheikh Abdullatif Al-Asheikh, talking about “Saudi Arabia... heart of the Islamic World.” Al-Sudais then highlighted how an acceptable Hajj should be performed. 

A third session saw a member of the senior Ulam council in Saudi Arabia and consultant to the royal court, Sheikh Saad Al-Shithry, continuing the topic of Al-Sudais. Meanwhile, the Grand Mufti of Egypt, Sheikh Shawqi Ibrahim Allam, highlighted the Saudi efforts in enforcing Muslims' unity, defending and helping them.