Saudi factory stitches gold-laced cover for Islam’s holiest site

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A man embroiders the Kiswa, a silk cloth covering the Holy Kaaba, ahead of the annual haj pilgrimage, at a factory in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia August 26, 2017. Picture taken August 26, 2017. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem
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A man embroiders the Kiswa, a silk cloth covering the Holy Kaaba, ahead of the annual haj pilgrimage, at a factory in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia August 26, 2017. Picture taken August 26, 2017. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem
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A man embroiders the Kiswa, a silk cloth covering the Holy Kaaba, ahead of the annual haj pilgrimage, at a factory in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia August 26, 2017. Picture taken August 26, 2017. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem
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A man embroiders the Kiswa, a silk cloth covering the Holy Kaaba, ahead of the annual haj pilgrimage, at a factory in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia August 26, 2017. Picture taken August 26, 2017. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem
Updated 27 August 2017

Saudi factory stitches gold-laced cover for Islam’s holiest site

MAKKAH: Dozens of Saudi craftsmen, mostly in their 40s and 50s, are hard at work in a factory in Makkah preparing an embroidered black and gold cloth to cover the Kaaba, the holiest site in Islam.
Known as the kiswa, the cloth is woven from silk and cotton and adorned with verses from the Qur'an. A new one is made each year to be placed on the Kaaba in Makkah’s Grand Mosque during the annual Muslim Hajj pilgrimage, which begins on Wednesday.
Many of the craftsmen have worked in the factory in the Oum Al-Jood district of Makkah all their lives but they will retire soon, so a new generation is being trained to carry on the trade.
General manager Mohammed bin Abdullah Bajuda said King Salman had ordered all the machines, which were introduced some 30 years ago to help automate the process, to be replaced with newer ones by next year.
“He also called for a new cadre of manufacturers to take the place of the current one,” Bajuda said during a visit to the factory on Saturday.
A cube-shaped stone structure, the Kaaba is a focal point of the Hajj, during which some two million pilgrims walk around it in a mass ritual.
When Muslims anywhere in the world say their prayers five times a day, it is toward Makkah and the Kaaba that they face.
The Kaaba’s black stone was revered even before the birth of Islam. Muslims believe it was originally built by the prophet Ibrahim, the Biblical Abraham, on the site of the first house of worship built by Adam. It has since been rebuilt more than once.
’THE BEST FEELING’
The kiswa was manufactured in Egypt until 1962. There have been red, green or white coverings in centuries past, but now it is always black with embroidered gold calligraphy.
Nearly 670 kg (1,477 pounds) of silk, enough to cover a structure estimated to measure about 50 feet (15 meters) high and 35 to 40 feet long, is imported from Italy. Silver and gold-plated thread comes from Germany.
But the kiswa is embroidered and stitched together in Saudi Arabia and paid for by the kingdom each year at a cost of $6 million.
Asked about that expenditure at a time of austerity in the kingdom, Bajuda said: “This glorifies the house of God. The Kaaba more than deserves this honor.”
Waleed Al-Juhani has worked at the factory, which opened in 1977, for 17 years.
“Thanks to God we are working to serve the holy Kaaba. This is a great blessing,” he said, while embroidering a Qur'anic verse that takes 60 days to complete.
“When we succeed in our work, we are glad that Muslims will celebrate a new cover for the Kaaba. This is the best feeling.”
At the end of Hajj, the used cloth will be cut into pieces to be distributed to dignitaries and religious organizations. Recipients regard the fragments as heirlooms.
This year’s kiswa is complete, but the workers have already started on the next one.


Saudi efforts for promotion of human rights lauded

Updated 10 December 2019

Saudi efforts for promotion of human rights lauded

  • Saudi Arabia has spent more than $86 billion in over 81 countries between 1996 and 2018

RIYADH: Dr. Awwad Al-Awwad, president of the Kingdom’s Human Rights Commission, said on Tuesday Saudi Arabia is keen to play a constructive role to maintain international peace and security, prevent conflicts and promote a culture of tolerance.
He said this during a meeting with Marielle de Sarnez, who is a member of the French National Assembly, in Riyadh.
They reviewed Saudi efforts in supporting human rights and the ongoing reforms in the Kingdom with a particular reference to the protection of human rights.
The French politician praised the developments taking place in the Kingdom in all sectors particularly human rights and women’s empowerment.

Saudi assistance
On the occasion of Human Rights Day, which is observed globally on Dec. 10, Al-Awwad said: “(Protection of) human rights is an issue of great international concern especially in the light of the rise in wars, intolerance, terrorism, hatred and racism.”
Highlighting the Kingdom’s role in humanitarian causes, the rights chief said that Saudi Arabia has spent more than $86 billion in over 81 countries between 1996 and 2018.
Commenting on the Kingdom’s keenness to preserve global and regional peace, he cited the Riyadh agreement between the legitimate Yemeni government and the Southern Transitional Council as an example.
He reiterated the Kingdom’s historical stance on the Palestinian issue.

Symposium
The Human Rights Commission organized on Tuesday a symposium titled “Human Rights, A Vision for the Future” in Riyadh.
Professionals in the field of human rights from inside and outside the Kingdom participated in this symposium, which was attended by a number of diplomats.
The symposium highlighted the Kingdom’s role in protecting and promoting human rights in accordance with its national and international commitments in this field. It also shed light on the Kingdom’s cooperation with various human rights organizations and reviewed the importance it attaches to the independence of the judiciary, the rule of law, safeguarding the rights of subjects of law, and respecting the course of justice.
The symposium discussed the most prominent developments in human rights during the reign of King Salman, safeguarding the privacy and rights of children in light of the digital age, and providing protection to the elderly as well as the challenges facing providing them with a suitable environment.
Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah Al-Khayyal, vice president of the Human Rights Commission, emphasized in a speech he delivered on behalf of the commission’s president, Dr. Al-Awwad, that Saudi Arabia, led by King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has made strides in the field of human rights.
“Saudi Arabia works continuously to achieve sustainable development through Vision 2030, in which the youth actively participate and play a major role in positive social change to contribute to more development achievements,” he said.
UN Resident Coordinator Nathalie Fustier stressed in her speech that the Kingdom has made many achievements in the field of human rights and that these efforts deserve to be saluted.
She added that the youth account for 25 percent of the Kingdom’s population and are the heart of society as they create the future of the next generations.
Fustier pointed out that at a global level, all development goals stipulate the protection of rights, including the rights of young people as they deserve many advantages and must be provided with the maximum benefits and more than the well-being and rights they have.