Saudi Arabia, China seal 15 deals

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SUCCESSFUL VISIT: Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli clap after Saudi delegation members signed several important memorandums of understanding with Chinese officials in Beijing on Tuesday. (SPA)
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Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (center left) and China’s Deputy Prime Minister Zhang Gaoli (center right) witness the signing of memorandums of understanding between the two countries on Tuesday in Beijing. (SPA)
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Saudi and Chinese delegations led by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (second left) and Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli (right) meet in Beijing on Tuesday. (SPA)
Updated 31 August 2016
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Saudi Arabia, China seal 15 deals

BEIJING: Saudi Arabia and China signed 15 preliminary agreements on Tuesday in sectors from energy to housing on a trip headed by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman aimed at bolstering relations with a top energy customer and trade partner.
The visit is part of a broad reform drive to cut the kingdom’s reliance on oil exports and showcase Saudi Arabia as a dynamic international nation with diverse promising opportunities for global investors.
Prince Mohammed met China’s Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli on Tuesday, state news agency SPA reported.
“During the meeting, the strategic relationships and future opportunities to enhance the existing partnership between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and China were reviewed,” SPA said.
Fifteen memorandums of understanding (MoU) were later signed between the two nations in different fields including oil storage, water resources, cooperation on science and technology, and cultural cooperation, SPA said.
In April, Prince Mohammed launched radical economic reforms designed to develop non-oil industries in Saudi Arabia and attract billions of dollars of foreign investment. Chinese and Japanese banks and companies are expected to play major roles.
Prince Mohammed arrived in China on Monday on the second leg of a three-day Asia tour that started in Islamabad, Pakistan. He will then visit Japan from Aug. 31 to Sept. 3, meeting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
From Japan, the prince will return to China to chair Saudi Arabia’s delegation to the Sept. 4-5 summit of leaders of the world’s 20 biggest economies in the eastern city of Hangzhou.
Prince Mohammed is expected to present to the G20 his economic reform plan, which envisages state spending of around 270 billion riyals ($72 billion) in the next five years on projects to diversify the economy.
Saudi officials will also discuss energy cooperation agreements with Japan, the Saudi cabinet said last week.
Under Prince Mohammed’s economic reforms, Riyadh plans to sell a stake of less than 5 percent in national oil giant Saudi Aramco that could be worth tens of billions of dollars, and Chinese and Japanese money could prove crucial in smoothing the sale.
(Additional input from agencies)
 
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Hajj 2018: What’s on pilgrims’ bucket lists

Masjid Quba in Madinah is a favorite destination for Hajj pilgrims, according to tour guides. Below: The Cave of Hira, Al-Baqi’ cemetery and the Prophet’s Chamber allow visitors to step back in time. (Getty Images)
Updated 15 August 2018
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Hajj 2018: What’s on pilgrims’ bucket lists

  • A number of companies in Makkah and Madinah help people organize their trips, making sure they cover the important sites in the two holy cities
  • Most of the sites in the two holy cities are spiritual, giving pilgrims a sense of the prophecies

RIYADH: Hajj is one of the biggest dreams of every Muslim’s life, and pilgrims looking forward to their stay in Makkah and Madinah say a bucket list is the best way to plan the trip. 

Most of the sites in the two holy cities are spiritual, giving pilgrims a sense of the prophecies. Standing in the places of the Holy Prophet transports them back to the past as if they lived those incredible moments. 

A number of companies in Makkah and Madinah help people organize their trips, making sure they cover the important sites in the two holy cities.

Sayed Shafei, an operation manager for City Sightseeing, a tour company in Madinah and worldwide, told Arab News: “We offer a special tour with a multilingual tour guide presented in eight languages. We also offer 24-hour tickets. We have scheduled tourism trips starting from the Prophet’s Mosque to 12 destinations every 30 minutes. The whole trip lasts for 14 hours a day.” 

Asked about the most popular requests, Shafei said: “Our customers always ask to visit Masjid Quba, the Sayed Al-Shuhada Mosque in Uhud, which is considered a vital historic landmark of Madinah, and Al-Qiblatain Mosque.” 

Most of the group’s customers are from East Asia, but many also visit from Kuwait, Bahrain, the UAE, Indonesia, Malaysia, the US and Europe.

Munirah Al-Jebreen, an English instructor at Princess Noura University who will perform Hajj this year, told Arab News her bucket list began with an online search. 

“I found a travel guide on Google that has all the best sites in Madinah and Makkah, so I decided to visit Uthman ibn Affan’s Farm and Well in Madinah, the Holy Qur’an exhibition, and one of the most important places I want to visit is the grave of the Holy Prophet,” she said.

The area between the Prophet’s Chamber, which holds his grave, and the Mimbar is known as the Rawdah, which is actually the Garden of Paradise. It is presently distinguished by a green carpet.

Al-Jebreen also listed some of her planned tour destinations in Makkah, including the Cave of Hira, where the Holy Prophet meditated frequently during the first 40 years of his life and the site of the first revelation. 

She will also visit Bilal Mosque and Mount Abu Qubais and, finally, will try Al-Garmushi, one of the famous traditional restaurants in Makkah.