Spiritually thrilled after Umrah, Dilip Kumar extends Makkah stay

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Updated 12 January 2013
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Spiritually thrilled after Umrah, Dilip Kumar extends Makkah stay

Legendary Indian actor Muhammad Yousuf Khan — who attained world fame with his screen name Dilip Kumar — and his actress wife Saira Bano have been so touched and spiritually exhilarated by their journey to Makkah that they have extended their stay in the holy city by a couple of more days.
“Dilip Kumar performed Umrah along with a 21-member entourage three days ago … He was absolutely thrilled and spiritually charged,” said Faisal I. Farooqui, a close family friend and CEO of mouthshut.com.
Farooqui tweeted about the thespian’s visit to Makkah and Madinah and posted interesting pictures on Twitter account (@faisalMouthshut).
Talking to Arab News yesterday, Farooqui said one of the most poignant moments during the journey was when Dilip Kumar was performing the circumambulation of the Holy Kaaba.
“He was full of energy and was reading aloud verses from the Holy Qur’an while performing the ‘tawaf.’ When we all heard him speak aloud, we started repeating the prayers after him,” said a very excited Farooqui. “Those were very touching moments, especially because Sahib is a man of few words.”
During the circumambulation, Dilip Kumar was in total awe. “He was involved in all aspects of the religious rituals ... whether it was the donning of the ihram in Madinah, or performing the ‘tawaf’ or saee in Makkah, he was a picture of total submission to Almighty Allah. He was fully engrossed,” said Farooqui. “I have not seen him in a more composed and serene manner in such a long time.”
Farooqui said two people should find special mention while writing about Dilip Kumar’s journey to the holy land. “They are Saira Bano and her brother Sultan Ahmad. Without Saira Baji’s extraordinary energy and Sultan Bhai and his family’s support, the whole trip would not have been possible,” he said.
He said “Sahib and Saira Baji” were touched by the generosity extended by everyone during their stay in Madinah and Makkah. “All of them were gracious and polite. They understood the family’s concern for Sahib’s well-being and were very supportive. The people in Madinah ... the people in Makkah ... they were all very, very helpful.” Farooqui, whose family has been friendly with Dilip Kumar for the last 30 years, said the legendary actor and his entourage were to leave for Mumbai last evening. “But such has been the impact of the journey on them that they decided to extend their stay in the holy city,” he said. “No one feels like leaving Makkah.”
Indian Consul General Faiz Ahmad Kidwai met them at the Makkah Hilton on Thursday evening and said one could clearly see happiness on Dilip Kumar’s face. “He speaks very little, but one could easily read his radiant face; he seemed contented.”
During their conversation with the consul general, they expressed their interest of coming back to the Kingdom soon. “Dilip Kumar and Saira Bano intend to perform Haj this year. This is their intention and we all should pray for their dream to come true,” said Kidwai. “Saira Bano said they don’t feel like leaving Makkah and that is the reason why they have extended their stay.”
Kidwai kept his men in Makkah on standby for any possible help. “This is their private visit, but it was our duty to extend all help to this great symbol of our country,” he said.
Farooqui echoed the consul general’s sentiments. “Let us all pray that they come back to the holy land. We all are truly blessed to accompany them to Makkah and Madinah.” The entourage included eight of Dilip Kumar’s longtime support staff, including his personal doctor and a cook.
Born on Dec. 11, 1922, in Peshawar, Yousuf Khan joined the film industry in 1944. He is rightly considered as the Subcontinent’s first method actor and an inspiration for generations of filmstars.
Yousuf Khan has been an inspiration behind many generations of actors. His dialogue delivery, flawless Urdu and acting abilities have all endeared him to his fellow actors and fans. In his days, he was the king of Indian film industry and his dialogues in the film “Mughal-e-Azam” — a true love epic — was on the lips of every moviegoer and literature lover. In one of his famous observations, noted film director Mahesh Bhatt said: “Where would Indian cinema be without Dilip Kumar’s heart-wrenching performances in Mughal-e-Azam? The wells from where we drink water were dug by this giant called Dilip Kumar.”


Saudi Arabia seeks to improve its knowhow

The challenge remains in changing a mindset in the Arab world which still focuses on the number of graduates rather than the quality of education.
Updated 19 January 2019
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Saudi Arabia seeks to improve its knowhow

  • With the Kingdom ranking 66th out of 134 countries in the Global Knowledge Index, education is key to improving its standing
  • The Arab world needs to make strides in research, development and innovation in order to bridge the gap with the West

DUBAI: With Saudi Arabia standing 66th out of 134 countries in the Global Knowledge Index, the Kingdom is hoping that a focus on  innovative education will boost its ranking. 

Improving the quality and nature of education to enable youth to innovate and be creative will prove key to achieving that goal.

The index results were announced in Dubai last month by the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation, in partnership with the UN Development Programme (UNDP), to measure the knowledge sector in 134 countries.

“With Saudi Arabia, we obtained the information from international organizations which were provided data from the government,” said Dr. Hany Torky, chief technical adviser at the UNDP and project director at the Arab Knowledge Project. 

“We rely on international organizations like the World Bank and UNESCO (the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization),” but Arab countries “don’t convey data to international organizations” or they do so “very late,” he added.

The aim of the index is to map trends in different areas of knowledge to be able to identify challenges facing countries in the field.

Saudi Arabia scored high in sectors such as health and environment, information and communications technology, and features of the labor market.  It also proved strong in research, development and innovation, ranking 38th, and the economy, at 47th. 

But in other sectors, the Kingdom scored relatively low. Technical and vocational education and training landed it in the 117th position, followed by 87th in the general enabling environment.

Khaled Abdul Shafi, director of the regional bureau for the UNDP, said focusing on education will be paramount for Arab countries. 

“Education can give young people this freedom and not consider that it should be based on memorization,” he added. 

“All the stages of education are important, and if Arab countries focus on education, we’ll be in a much better position compared to where we stand now.”

The knowledge gap between the Arab world and the West is large, with the exception of the UAE and a few other countries. 

Abdul Shafi blamed this on the quality of education in the Arab world, which he said is based on spoon-feeding and does not encourage innovation as much as it should. 

“It’s also not really related to the marketplace, so students are graduating without really having the skills required for the economy,” he added. 

“Education is the main reason, so we need to pay a lot of attention to the education sector in all its different stages to enhance its quality. It’s very important to determine where the problem is to work on dealing with it.”

He said research, development and innovation as a whole are lacking in the Arab world compared to other countries, with an absence of youth participation and the unavailability of data and research. 

“The importance of the index isn’t the ranking of countries, but to analyze the knowledge status in each country,” he added. 

“They’ll be able to put their hands on their weak points and work on further enhancing these indicators to achieve much more progress,” said Abdul Shafi.

“We encourage countries and work with them to transfer the practices of developed countries to less-developed ones, so we’re not just producing a report, we’re also collaborating with some of these countries to transfer their experience and knowledge.”

As part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 reform plan, a major focus has been placed on youth and their education. 

With a predominantly young population, the Kingdom has identified and developed initiatives to bridge the knowledge gap between the Arab world and the West.

Some include the Misk Global Forum, the flagship platform of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s foundation, which held its “Skills for Our Tomorrow” conference in November to focus on youth, knowledge and innovation. 

The Misk Foundation has also launched a number of programs to foster talent across the Kingdom, with the aim of developing a knowledge-based economy as the country shifts away from oil.

“The report enables us to face reality,” said Aysha Al-Mansouri, a Saudi specialist in youth capabilities development. 

“In Saudi, we have a clear vision and a future objective, which we hope to achieve through our Vision 2030. We need to do right by our youth and our country.”

But with 30 million illiterate people under the age of 18 in the Arab world, the task at hand is momentous. 

“It’s shameful for us as Arabs, and I was surprised to see so many young illiterates,” said Jamal bin Huwaireb, CEO of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation. 

With 30 million illiterate people under the age of 18 in the Arab world, the task at hand is momentous.

“Success is going to be the result of those who work continuously and have a clear strategy. In 40 years, illiteracy was completely eliminated in the UAE, so countries like Egypt or Iraq, which used to disseminate knowledge for centuries, should work on this. We all share the same goal, so it’s not impossible.”

The challenge remains in changing a mindset in the Arab world, which Torky said still focuses on the number of graduates rather than the quality of education. 

“What’s the point in having 100 percent of graduates if they don’t have the skills required for the labor market?” he asked. 

“Investment in education is almost the same in all Arab (Gulf) countries, but the process and deliverables of education are problematic. To maintain the status quo is a failure, and we need to keep improving.”

The education sector will have to keep up with the pace of technological transformation. “There are impacts of the acceleration in technology, like artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, blockchain and the Internet of Things, and the related skills that you need to acquire to deal with such developing technologies,” Torky said. 

“In the near future, there will be seven countries that will lead the world in knowledge, and the UAE is one of them, having jumped six positions in the index in 2018,” he added.

“Arab countries can actually reach such status, like the US, the UK, Singapore, Finland, Sweden and Brazil.”

Bin Huwaireb expressed hope that other Arab foundations will eventually collaborate with the UNDP in disseminating knowledge. 

“We have a single goal of reinforcing the concept of knowledge in the Arab world,” he said. “Over the years, we can now see that the difference is clear and everybody is speaking about knowledge, the knowledge economy, the industrial revolution and knowledge reports.”

Workshops are being held in Arab countries such as Jordan and Egypt to create momentum across the region. 

“We are beginning to reap the benefits of this project,” bin Huwaireb said. “Many Arab countries have a problem with empowering environments, but they should do their best to bridge this gap between them and other developed countries so their knowledge indicators can climb to higher rankings.”

He touched on scientific research, a vital element still lagging in the region. “Scientific research centers are a real obstacle we suffer from in the Arab world, because without such centers there will be no progress and no knowledge generation,” he said.

“But there are major plans and strategies to allocate the proper funds for scientific research, and we want it to increase in all Arab countries. It needs some time, but encouragement, motivation and collaboration should continue.”