Taif mosque is a historic Saudi jewel with a story to tell

The Qantara Mosque, also known as Al-Madhoun Mosque, was built some 162 years ago.
Updated 11 January 2018

Taif mosque is a historic Saudi jewel with a story to tell

TAIF: Flocks of Hajj and Umrah performers travel to Taif, 70km from Makkah, to visit the city’s historical places.
One of the main attractions in Taif is the Al-Qu’a and Al-Qantara Mosque, located in Al-Mathnah neighborhood.
Khalid Al-Shirbi, a licensed tour guide for the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), told Arab News that the Qantara Mosque, also known as Al-Madhoun Mosque, was built some 162 years ago. “It was built during the Ottoman era. It is only its building style, inspired from Abbasid architecture, that gives the impression of being ancient,” he said.
He added that the farm where Prophet Muhammad rested after being expelled from Taif and was offered fruit by Addas, the grape farmer, is on the opposite side of the mosque.
Another mosque that many tourists are keen to visit in Taif is the Al-Qu’a Mosque, which Al-Shirbi confirmed was built some 800 years after the death of the Prophet.
“Many tourists believe that Prophet Muhammad came to this place and, with his elbow, leaned on a stone, leaving a mark,” Al-Shirbi said. He added that tour guides normally try to clear up such incorrect concepts, but some stories, he said, are engraved in tourists’ minds.
He pointed out that most of the visiting tourists come from Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Singapore, Bangladesh and Turkey.
“The Pakistanis, in particular, call it ‘Hazrat Ali Mosque,’ referring to Al-Bin Abi Talib, the Prophet’s cousin, who they think was with the Prophet when he was in Taif. “This is completely untrue. Islamic biographers have different opinions whether the Prophet was alone or accompanied by Zaid bin Haritha, but not Ali.”
Many scholars and historians have narrated the story of Prophet with Addas in different ways, but they all agreed on one theme. Sheikh Mohammed Al-Areefy, for instance, said: “After his wife, Khadija bint Khwuailed, and his uncle, Abu Talib, had passed away in the same year, which was later called “Year of Sadness,” he sought a place where he could find supporters. When he arrived in Taif, his call to Islam was not only robustly rejected, he was also followed on his way back to Makkah, and had stones thrown at him until he reached Al-Mathnah Valley, where he rested for a while.
“This area was known for its fruits. A Christian Iraqi farmer, Addas, who was serving a rich family originating from Makkah, approached the sad Prophet and offered him a bowl of grapes.
“The Prophet took the grapes and before starting to eat the fruit, said: ‘In the name of Allah.’ The phrase, which the worker had not heard before, sparked his attention and he asked: People here do not say that! The Prophet asked Addas where he was from. “From Nineveh,” the man replied. The story ended with the man embracing Islam.

6 Saudi teams scale heights as Canadians win Entrepreneurship World Cup

Updated 39 min 45 sec ago

6 Saudi teams scale heights as Canadians win Entrepreneurship World Cup

  • Third-ranked Saudi startup Red Sea Farms receives thunderous applause from audience
  • The EWC is the world’s largest startup competition, with over 100,000 applicants

RIYADH: Canadian firm NERv Technology Inc. emerged victorious at the Entrepreneurship World Cup (EWC) at the Misk Global Forum (MGF) 2019 in Riyadh on Thursday, with Saudi startup Red Sea Farms coming third.

NERv Technology Inc. was handed a $500,000 prize and the winning trophy, while second-ranked team Koniku Inc. from the US won $250,000.

Red Sea Farms received $150,000, and fourth and fifth-ranked Sumato-ID (of Argentina) and SUN Mobility (India) were handed $50,000 each.

Speaking to Arab News, NERv Technology’s Amr Abdelgawad said: “It’s been a fantastic experience going through the event here over the past few days.

“We have been working really hard for almost five years to make sure we have a device that can actually have an impact on people’s lives and I think we are getting one step closer to that.  

“It was a great experience in terms of the people we met, the people we engaged with, being able to be in the same place with like-minded individuals who understand how difficult it is to start our own business. We helped each other and have great respect for all the finalists, the grand prize to us is just a small part of winning, to be in the final was great.”     

On coming to Riyadh to participate in the EWC, he said: “It was really nice being here, I was born and raised in Saudi Arabia, so it is great to come back and see this country the way it is right now, and it is absolutely fantastic to win the EWC here.”

Third-ranked team Red Sea Farms (Saudi Arabia) received a $150,000 cheque. (AN photo by Ziyad Al-Arfaj)

Mark Tester, CEO and founder of Red Sea Farms, told Arab News: “It is a fantastic feeling to come third, to be in this event is fantastic to be honest, I am really proud of representing Saudi Arabia.”

He commended the role played by the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) describing it as a “fabulous organization” to work with.

“This is real affirmation of our efforts to build companies and deliver research back to Saudi Arabia,” added Tester. 

Speaking at the final ceremony of the MGF, Commerce and Investment Minister Dr. Majid Al-Qasabi praised the startups at the EWC finals and described the MGF as a “hope forum,” saying it provided a platform for making the Kingdom a land of opportunity.

Shaima Hamidaddin, executive manager of the MGF, thanked all the participants and EWC contestants for “really amazing sessions”.

She also gave a sneak peak of MGF 2020, saying it would be historically important because of the Kingdom hosting G20 Summit next year.

“The EWC global finalists represent the cream of international startup talent. We’re looking forward to seeing the entrepreneurs reach even greater heights thanks to the bootcamp ahead of the finals at the MGF. Our partnership with KAUST is part of our commitment to working with top international leaders in innovation, training, and development to achieve our global mission of empowering young people to thrive in the knowledge economy.”

Dr. Majid Al-Qasabi, commerce and investment minister, left, and Bader Al-Asaker, chairman of MISK initiative center, right, with coo and cofounder of Nerv Technology that emerged victorious at the entrepreneurship World cup under the Misk Global Forum 2019 in Riyadh on Nov. 14, 2019. (AN photo/Ziyad Al-Arfaj)

Red Sea Farms received thunderous applause from the audience as it placed third, with all the successful teams well-received.

Notably, of the 100 global finalists, six were from Saudi Arabia: Sadeem, Faheem, Cura, Dhad, Red Sea Farms and UnitX. All were founded by graduates of KAUST’s entrepreneurship programs.

The contest’s 10 semifinalists were: Bambrew (India), CiDi (China), Corumat Inc. (US), DRD Biotech (Russia), Koniku Inc. (US), NERv Technology Inc. (Canada), Red Sea Farms (Saudi Arabia), SUN Mobility (India), Sumato-ID (Argentina), and Tensortec (China).

Judges at the event included Kevin O’Leary, chairman of O’Shares Investments, Abdulrahman Tarabzouni, CEO and managing director of STV, Christine Tsai, CEO of 500 Startups and Aneel Ranadive, managing partner at Soma Capital.

Earlier over the course of the forum, the 100 startups drawn from national and regional finals around the world were whittled down to a final top 10.

KAUST hosted the EWC finalists between Nov. 8 and Nov. 11 at its entrepreneurship bootcamp in partnership with the MGF, at its campus in Thuwal near Jeddah.

The EWC is the world’s largest startup competition, with over 100,000 applicants.

Saudi Arabia presents an extraordinary opportunity for startups interested in accessing the MENA market and tapping into KAUST’s unique ecosystem, focused on finding solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges in food, water, energy and the environment.

The KAUST-Misk partnership aims to advance Saudi Arabia’s ambitious economic transformation goals by attracting cutting-edge, impactful startups and top entrepreneurial talent to the Kingdom.

The EWC was conducted by the MGF in partnership with the Global Entrepreneurship Network, alongside local and regional partners.