Unprecedented Umrah rush

Updated 30 December 2015
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Unprecedented Umrah rush

RIYADH: Makkah witnessed an unprecedented crowd of Umrah pilgrims this week with hotels booked to capacity and worshippers praying in the courtyards of the holy mosque and on adjoining streets.

Five and four-star hotels are charging SR550 a night, while small hotels with limited facilities and no services were are charging SR200.
Worshippers who went to the Grand Mosque an hour ahead of adhan (call for prayer), were denied entry because of congestion. They were seen praying either in the courtyard of the Haram or on the Ajyad Street and on the Jabal Al-Kaaba Road.
Pilgrims from Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey, Egypt, Singapore, the Philippines, Indian, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and neighboring Arab countries were seen in large numbers.
A hotelier told Arab News that because of the school holidays, a large number of local pilgrims also joined the worshippers. “ Some of them come on a week's package organized by the Kingdom's Umrah operators.
Umrah travel operators in the capital have drastically reduced the weekend pilgrim package to SR100 from its original price of SR250 during the Haj season.
A return fare from Riyadh to Makkah by a luxury coach including accommodation in the holy city costs SR100 per pilgrim and there is an additional charge of SR50, if the pilgrim opts to visit the Prophet's Mosque in Madinah on way to Makkah. On an additional payment of SR100 per pilgrim, accommodation could be extended to a four-star hotel in the holy city.
A travel operator in the city said the weekend package to Makkah and Madinah begins at 4 p.m. in Riyadh on Thursday and ends midnight Saturday. Each family is given a large room while bachelors are accommodated on a sharing basis with three pilgrims to a room. Children under 12 are charged half the fare. Accommodation is provided in a three star hotel.
There are nearly 300 Umrah travel operators spread out in the capital but these are largely concentrated on the city center of Batha.
According to Haj Minister Bandar Hajjar, the Kingdom is expected to receive more than 6 million Umrah pilgrims during the current season and the number is likely to exceed past figures.
“All arrangements are in place and the ministry is ready to welcome the visitors to the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque,” he said .
“The ministry has deployed all its staff and personnel to serve the guests of God and facilitate their arrival to perform the religious rituals smoothly and leave the Kingdom during the coming months without any accumulation in their numbers,” said Hajjar.


Riyadh book fair hears lecture on Bahrain culture industry

Updated 21 March 2019
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Riyadh book fair hears lecture on Bahrain culture industry

  • Professor Diaa Al-Kaabi presented a survey of all aspects of Bahraini culture, from the early 19th century until the present day
  • She also highlighted the role of prominent Saudis in the founding of major cultural institutions in Bahrain

RIYADH: Riyadh International Book Fair on Wednesday hosted Dr. Diaa Al-Kaabi, who gave a lecture on the role of culture in Bahrain, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The academic, who is a professor at the University of Bahrain, highlighted the role of prominent Saudis in the founding of major cultural institutions in Bahrain. She named Muqbel Al-Zukair, and the families of Al-Gosaibi, Al-Bassam, Al-Ajaji, Al-Mashari and others, as pioneers.
She also mentioned the cultural agreement that was signed in 1974 between the Kingdom and Bahrain as the first such agreement signed between the two Gulf states.
Al-Kaabi presented a survey of all aspects of Bahraini culture, from the early 19th century until the present day. She highlighted major trends in Bahrain’s cultural industry, and the role of societies, theaters and universities, as well as state institutions, in promoting the nation’s culture to an international audience.
She addressed the beginnings of the cultural movement under Sheikh Issa bin Ali, which she considered as the founding of the country’s cultural consciousness. 
It heralded the age of enlightenment in Bahrain, which was part of the modern Arab Renaissance starting from the early nineteenth century, she said.
Al-Kaabi concluded her lecture by stressing that culture, if nurtured, could be a pillar of economic development as it provided many job opportunities and its revenues were high. 
Bahrain is the guest of honor at the fair, which runs until March 23.
A Bahraini pavilion will host 13 cultural events including poetry nights, seminars and children’s programs over the course of the fair. In total, more than 900 global publishing houses are set to participate, with 500,000 books and publications on display, and up to a million visitors expected to attend.