Wadi Hanifa: A desert oasis running through Riyadh

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Wadi Hanifa: An oasis of relaxation and time out in Riyadh.
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Wadi Hanifa was once a waste disposal site and has been transformed into the largest natural open resort in the Kingdom.
Updated 29 June 2017

Wadi Hanifa: A desert oasis running through Riyadh

RIYADH: Once a waste disposal site, Wadi Hanifa is now a beautiful valley running a length of nearly 120 km from the northwest to the southeast of the capital.
Known in the pre-Islamic era as Wadi Al-Irdh, it was renamed Wadi Hanifa after the Bani Hanifa tribe that populated the area.
Riyadh grew substantially and expansion destroyed the environmental balance in the scenic valley, leading to erosion.
“The once fertile and scenic Wadi Hanifa suffered as the capital city rapidly expanded,” said a local, adding that the growing city used the river valley as a throughway for utility lines and a dumping ground for construction waste. Later, industrial activities were launched in the area, turning it into a dump for waste disposal.
In 1986, the Arriyadh Development Authority (ADA) launched a plan to turn the dump into a nature reserve, attracting local and foreign visitors, and encouraging investments. The redevelopment plan involved creating water channels, trails, and spots for visitors to observe the spectacular views the valley has to offer.
Riyadh’s first large sewage treatment facility channeled 400,000 to 650,000 cubic meters of runoff daily, creating an area of small lakes south of Riyadh. This area grew and a 100 km green corridor was created.
According to the ADA, the decision taken in 1986 proved to be a significant milestone as it helped transform the valley into the largest natural reserve in the Kingdom. The wetlands became a stop for migratory birds and a popular area for recreation.
The valley, located on the outskirts of the capital, has water channels, green corridors, walkways and picnic spots for visitors to enjoy the scenic beauty that includes orchards and farms, making it a major attraction for both Riyadh residents and visitors.
Abdullah Ahmad, who resides in the nearby Wadi Laban area, said: “Riyadh residents were in need of such a site in the city, having the opportunity to enjoy nature and a clean environment away from built-up places.”
Zakir Khan, a regular visitor to the natur reserve, said: “It’s a great place for a picnic. I go there all the time with my family for a barbecue… Surrounded by mountains and a lake, it is a beautiful and quite popular place among picnickers. The best part is, it is not even far from the city.”

Worshippers flock to reopened Prophet’s Mosque for Friday prayers

Updated 06 June 2020

Worshippers flock to reopened Prophet’s Mosque for Friday prayers

MADINAH: Hundreds of thousands of worshippers attended the first Friday prayers to be held at the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah since the gatherings were suspended to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.

The green light for the resumption of the prayer meetings came as part of a plan to gradually reopen the Kingdom’s mosques while ensuring worshippers and visitors adhered to preventive measures.

A ban on access to the Rawdah remained in place and only groups of worshippers numbering up to a maximum of 40 percent of the mosque’s capacity were being allowed entry.

Precautionary measures also included the allocation of specific doors for the entry of worshippers, the installation of thermal cameras, removal of all carpets so that prayers could be performed on the marble, sanitization of the mosque’s floors and courtyards, periodic opening of domes and canopies to ventilate the mosque, and the removal of Zamzam water containers.

The Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah will be closed after evening prayers and reopened one hour before dawn prayers. Parking lots will operate at 50 percent capacity and a media awareness campaign has been launched to highlight safety procedures at the holy site.

Medical teams have also been stationed at the main entrances to the mosque in cooperation with the Ministry of Health.

Elsewhere in the Kingdom, worshippers also flocked to perform Friday prayers at mosques amid strict health measures.

On May 31, Saudi authorities reopened all mosques for prayers, except in Makkah, as part of the Kingdom’s plan for a gradual return to normal life.

Last week the minister of Islamic affairs, dawah and guidance said that the country’s mosques were ready to welcome back worshippers, following his field trips to check that necessary preparations had been made.

All worshippers must still maintain a distance of 2 meters between rows, wear masks to enter a mosque, and Friday sermons and prayers have been limited to a maximum of 15 minutes.