Anatoly Ivanishin: Seen from space, only the two holy cities stand out

Updated 11 November 2012
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Anatoly Ivanishin: Seen from space, only the two holy cities stand out

The four Russian astronauts who came to visit the Prince Salman Science Oasis (PSSO) told Saudi students that while taking a picture of some beautiful cities from outer space, the brightest and beautiful cities he saw were Makkah and Madinah, specifically the spots in the centers of the two holy cities. These astronauts came as part of the Association of Space Explorers (ASE) program during their 25th Assembly in Riyadh this week.
“When you are in outer space, we take photos during the day for good visibility and shot, but at night it is difficult to take pictures because you have to use a special technique. In spite of this, I managed to take many pictures of various cities at night. I was amazed to find that the cities of Makkah and Madinah outshone other cities around the world,” observed astronaut Anatoly Ivanishin during an interaction with the students.
The astronauts were hosted at the Prince Salman Science Oasis (PSSO) by the PSSO’s Supervisor General Khalid Abdul Gader Taher, who briefed his guests on the activities of the oasis.
Ivanishin said that other cities do not look bright at night but the view of Makkah and Madinah from outer space was a breathtaking and unprecedented spectacle.
The four Russian astronauts who visited the oasis are Andrey Borisenko, Alexander Samokutyaev, Anton Shkaplerov and their interpreter Boris Meshcherykov.
PSSO is a nonprofit organization charged with developing an interactive science center. Through the science center and associated activities, PSSO aims to improve public awareness of science and to promote scientific knowledge and its practical applications in terms of promoting peace and how this knowledge can benefit mankind as a whole.
Oasis seeks to inspire people with the purpose of advancing scientific knowledge and technology in ways that respect cultural diversity and freedom. PSSO is affiliated to Riyadh Philanthropic Society for Science, a nonprofit organization headed by Crown Prince Salman. An executive council for PSSO was established to supervise and guide the development of this project and provide the necessary support at both private and government levels.
This council is headed by Prince Sultan bin Salman, president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) and founding member of the Association of Space Explorers (ASE), the host of the 25 the association assembly.
In his welcoming note, the mayor of Madinah said : "You are not Russians, you are earthlings, I am not a Saudi man, I am an earthling and we are brothers in the service of humanity. You people are so blessed because out of seven billion people on Earth you were able to go to space and understand the universe around you."
"This is the difference, you see the big picture. I am not blessed as you but I am trying to see the picture, you see the big picture through your hearts and through your eyes. I only see the picture from my heart. You are blessed that's why when you say that you have that bright picture of Madinah you are showing me something very precious. You are going through the philosophy of life to make a difference in your research in medicine, helping communication, transportation and environment and so on " he added.
On the sidelines of the meeting, Taher told Arab News that the Russian astronaut’s observation was inspiring from a spiritual point of view. He said the noteworthy point was how, amid thousands of cities on the Earth, the brightest lights he saw from space were the ones coming from Makkah and Madinah.
“To me spiritually we understand that and we realize it. And I really wish and ask the Almighty Allah to help us that the light he saw up there as shiny for him will also be shiny for the rest of the world,” said the officia.
He said: “The visit of these astronauts means a lot for our country. We should really admire, respect and praise so highly the efforts of the Kingdom and Custodian of Two Holy Mosques for his vision and his continued work not only to serve his own people or the Muslims but the entire world. We see every day a new initiative,” he observed.
Taher also paid tribute to Prince Salman for his support for PSSO and his dedication to the cause of strengthening the Kingdom’s security and development. “Prince Sultan bin Salman himself has set a good example for the Saudi youth through his dedication, creativity and commitment. These people are coming to our country for the second time. The first time was when the association was launched. Prince Sultan as founding member maintains good relations with these renowned scientists and astronauts for the benefit of the younger generation in the Kingdom.”
He attributed the Kingdom’s progress to the long-term vision and far-sightedness of the Kingdom’s leadership. They have relied on the Islamic law to steer the country on the path of progress, modernity and prosperity without losing its cultural ethos.


Saudi Arabia to send Syrians an additional $100 million of humanitarian aid

Updated 26 April 2018
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Saudi Arabia to send Syrians an additional $100 million of humanitarian aid

  • Total relief provided by the Kingdom since the war began now stands at about $1billion
  • Latest package announced by Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir at conference in Brussels

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia will provide an additional $100 million of humanitarian aid to alleviate the suffering of the people of Syria, through the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center.

The announcement of the latest aid package was made by Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir on April 25 at an international conference on the future of Syria and the region, held in the Belgian capital Brussels. He pointed out that the meeting comes after the suspected chemical attack in the city of Douma, in eastern Ghouta, which killed dozens of civilians, including women and children.

“The world is facing a regime allied with terrorist militias who believe that spreading atrocities and committing crimes will bring victory to it, and that war crimes are bearing fruit,” said Al-Jubeir. “In addition to bombing civilians with explosive barrels, the policies of starvation and siege, ethnic and sectarian cleansing, and the demographic change of Syrian cities and towns, its use of chemical weapons have shocked the entire world.”

He said that the only acceptable solution to the Syrian crisis is a peaceful political resolution, and that Saudi Arabia has been working to achieve this since the crisis began, while also working with others to end the continuing human tragedy in the war-torn country.

The Kingdom has played a role in unifying the ranks of the Syrian opposition and encouraging them to speak with one voice, he added. After the Riyadh 1 Conference in 2015, Saudi Arabia hosted the Riyadh 2 conference for the Syrian opposition in November 2017, which succeeded in unifying the factions and establishing a negotiating body to take part in the rounds of talks held since then, earning praise from the United Nations.

The foreign minister also reiterated his country’s support for the efforts of the UN secretary-general’s envoy, Stephan de Mistura, to resume negotiations between all sides of the conflict.

“The Kingdom hopes that the agreements endorsed by the international resolutions on the ceasefire and the delivery of humanitarian aid to its beneficiaries will be implemented throughout Syria, regardless of their ethnic, religious, sectarian or political affiliations, and calls for the speedy release of detainees and abductees and clarifying the situation of those absent,” said Al-Jubeir. “It also renews its demand to punish individuals and institutions for war crimes and to prevent their impunity.”

He added that the worsening humanitarian crisis affecting refugees inside and outside of Syria should add to the urgency of finding a political solution and resuming the negotiating process as soon as possible.

Since the war began, the Kingdom has taken in about two and a half million Syrians and treats them like its own citizens, Al-Jubeir said, providing them with free health care, work and education. Saudi universities and schools have more than 140,000 Syrian students. He added that Saudi Arabia is also supporting and helping to care for of millions of Syrian refugees in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, in coordination with the governments of those countries. The humanitarian assistance provided so far totals about $1 billion.