Saudi plans to overcome challenges welcomed

Updated 10 January 2016

Saudi plans to overcome challenges welcomed

RIYADH: The Kingdom’s domestic and foreign policies outlined this week to meet economic and political challenges were welcomed by a broad spectrum of citizens, expatriates and experts on Friday.

The priorities of the government were unveiled by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, second deputy premier and defense minister, in a wide-ranging interview published by The Economist magazine on Thursday.
Saudi Arabia’s plans for its economy amid dropping oil prices and tackling conflicts in the Middle East, including its gains to restore the legitimate government in Yemen, made headlines in the Kingdom and abroad, including on social networking sites.
The deputy crown prince had ruled out a war with Iran because it would be “catastrophic”; spelled out plans to diversify state income with various measures including the possibility of certain taxes and making Saudi Aramco public and launching job creation initiatives for citizens.
Mosad Al-Zayani, a Dubai-based Saudi journalist, said the Kingdom’s approach to Iran showed it was committed to stability in the region. He welcomed the economic initiatives outlined, including the move to shun dependence on oil revenues and the proposed Aramco privatization.

Mohsin Sheikh Al-Hassan, an author and public relations expert, praised the government for not wanting a war with Iran, but said Tehran must be “taught a lesson” for its destabilizing tactics with a boycott of its products.
He said the Kingdom’s exports stood at SR400 million to Tehran, whereas its imports amounted to SR685 million. “This has to be stopped because we can import these Iranian goods from other friendly countries,” he said.
Zakir Aazmi, an Indian expatriate and author, praised the deputy crown prince for dealing with every important policy area of the government, which he said reflects his “dynamic, visionary and energetic leadership.”
Naif Al-Rashid said the deputy crown prince had outlined initiatives that would ensure the country can effectively face up to political, social and economic challenges. “It is good that Aramco, linchpin of the oil market, goes public,” he said.
Seyed Hamid Moulana, a senior business executive, said it was clear that the government had an answer to all obstacles, including Iran’s “unnecessary” attempts to create tension in the region, and the fall in oil prices. He said he was “overwhelmed” by the analysis provided by the deputy crown prince.
In the interview, which was also translated into Arabic, the deputy crown prince had, in his capacity as head of the newly formed Council of Economic and Development Affairs, said the country was not facing an economic crisis.


Ministry makes 14-day gap between two Umrahs mandatory

Each group will be accompanied by supervisors who will ensure pilgrims respect social distancing, and follow instructions and a pre-adopted timeline. (SPA)
Updated 30 September 2020

Ministry makes 14-day gap between two Umrahs mandatory

  • The Kingdom is adopting extra vigilance during the Hajj and Umrah seasons to protect Muslims around the world
  • Umrah app to be available on Android soon

MAKKAH: Pilgrims must wait 14 days before booking another date for Umrah, while the Eatmarna app will be launched on Android soon, the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said.

“Pilgrims can perform Umrah twice, but must wait 14 days before performing Umrah the second time, to give a chance to everyone to perform Umrah in line with the necessary precautionary measures brought about by the coronavirus,” Dr. Amr Al-Maddah, the ministry’s chief planning and strategy officer, told Arab News.
The ministry is studying  the available spots that can  be used by the pilgrims to perform Umrah while maintaining social distancing, ensuring health protocols.
Al-Maddah said that so far 35,000 requests have been registered to perform Umrah.
Pilgrims will start performing Umrah on Oct. 4 within the first stage of the Umrah plan this year, in line with health protocols and procedures.
In the first phase, pilgrims will perform Umrah at six different times a day, giving each pilgrim three hours.


He added that between the sunset and evening prayers, pilgrims will not be allowed to perform Umrah and, instead, this period will be allocated to cleaning and disinfecting. “Pilgrims will start performing Umrah at midnight, with the place disinfected before the arrival of each group.”
Each group will be accompanied by supervisors who will ensure pilgrims respect social distancing, and follow instructions and a pre-adopted timeline. Isolation rooms will be provided at the central area’s hotels to handle any potential cases.
The second stage, scheduled to start two weeks later, will be preceded by a comprehensive assessment of the first stage to address any shortcomings.
“The Kingdom is adopting extra vigilance during the Hajj and Umrah seasons to protect Muslims around the world, and allow them to perform their pilgrimage in ease and peace in line with precautionary measures,” said Al-Maddah.
“The three-stage plan will provide feedback on pilgrims’ commitment to protocols and adjustment to current circumstances.”
He said that the app was supposed to be launched earlier, but was delayed due to Android policies.
The app was presented to both Apple and Android at the same time, but Apple completed the procedures earlier, he added.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance, Sheikh Dr. Abdullatif bin Abdul Aziz Al Al-Sheikh, announced the ministry’s readiness to receive Umrah performers in all Miqats in accordance with approved health protocols.
He commended leadership efforts to confront the pandemic, in addition to the government sector role in ensuring the safety of citizens, residents and Umrah performers.