First group of Lankan pilgims arrives

WARM WELCOME: Mohammed Azmi Thassim, Faizer Mackeen and senior diplomats from Riyadh and Jeddah receive the first group of Sri Lankan pilgrims in Jeddah on Sunday. (AN photo)
Updated 20 August 2016
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First group of Lankan pilgims arrives

RIYADH: The first group of 62 of the 2,240 Sri Lankan Haj pilgrims arrived on a Saudi Arabian Airlines plane in Jeddah on Sunday.
The island’s national carrier, SriLankan Airlines, and other carriers will bring more pilgrim in the coming days.
Sri Lankan Ambassador Mohammed Azmi Thassim, Consul General Faizer Mackeen and senior diplomats welcomed the pilgrims.
“This year, we had a limited quota because of the ongoing development works in Makkah,” Thassim, who met Haj and Umrah Minister Mohammed Salih Bentin on Sunday, told Arab News from Jeddah.
Ferrying of the Colombo pilgrims to and from Jeddah will be shared by the SriLankan Airlines, the Saudi Arabian Airlines and other airlines.
Consul General Mackeen said: “Today, we received the Ummul Qura Group, led by Sheikh Hussein Deen.”
He said the consulate has deployed a team at the Haj terminal of the Jeddah airport to welcome Sri Lankan pilgrims. The officials offer refreshments to the pilgrims on arrival and attend to their needs until they leave for the holy cities.
Four teams have been formed in Makkah, Jeddah, Minah and Madinah to assist the pilgrims. In addition to the mission’s staff, the diplomat said that he had solicited the cooperation of volunteers, who would help the pilgrims in Makkah, Madinah and at the Haj terminal. “A medical team will also arrive with the pilgrims to look after their health needs.”
Speaking from Colombo, Mohamed Hashim Abdul Haleem, Muslim religious affairs and posts minister, said the Sri Lankan pilgrims will be provided with the best of services both in Makkah and Madinah during their pilgrimage. “With the help of the Saudi government, we have also introduced a new software to our system to streamline all our Haj activities,” he said
He said the pilgrims’ movements will be monitored and the travel agents held responsible if anything untoward happens to the pilgrims.
The minister said that this year, the first timers were given preference in the pilgrims’ selection process. “I have also stipulated the minimum cost for each pilgrim, which should include the airfare, accommodation and internal travel,” he said, adding that any travel operator who tries to exploit the pilgrims will be severely dealt with.


FaceOf: Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qassabi, KSA's minister of commerce and investment

Updated 23 min 36 sec ago
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FaceOf: Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qassabi, KSA's minister of commerce and investment

  • Al-Qassabi declared that Saudi Arabia’s inclusion in MSCI’s emerging market is recognition of its efficiency in satisfying global markets’ needs
  • Al-Qassabi was born in 1959 in Jeddah to one of the biggest real estate owners in the Kingdom

Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qassabi is the minister of commerce and investment in Saudi Arabia.

On Thursday, the minister declared that Saudi Arabia’s inclusion in MSCI’s emerging market is recognition of its efficiency in satisfying global markets’ needs.

He also highlighted the importance of seizing the day with milestones like these by expanding the liquidity of Saudi’s financial markets through an increase in investments and creating diverse opportunities for investors and traders.

Al-Qassabi was born in 1959 in Jeddah to one of the biggest real estate owners in the Kingdom.

He received his schooling in Jeddah, before he earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Portland, Oregon, in 1981. 

He then received two master’s degrees: Engineering management from the University of Missouri in 1983 and civil engineering from UC Berkeley in 1982. After that, he returned to Missouri to pursue a doctorate in engineering management in 1985.

The current minister became a professor at King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah for 11 years, before serving as the secretary-general of Jeddah’s Chamber of Commerce in 1998.

In 2002, he was appointed as the director general of the Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud Foundation, then became an adviser to the crown prince’s court in 2010. 

Al-Qassabi sits on many boards and serves as a member of major Saudi charities such as the Council of Saudi Ports Authority Management, the High Commission for the Development of Hail, the Centennial Fund and the Supreme Economic Council.