Frenchman commits suicide in Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mosque in Makkah

An aerial view shows the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia’s holy city of Makkah on June 3, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 09 June 2018

Frenchman commits suicide in Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mosque in Makkah

  • An expatriate commits suicide in the Grand Mosque in Makkah by throwing himself off the roof and onto the circumambulation ground
  • A spokesperson said the body was rushed to the hospital as an investigation commenced into the reason behind the death

RIYADH: A Frenchman has committed suicide by throwing himself off the roof of the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Makkah, Saudi and French officials said Saturday.
“A foreigner threw himself from the roof of the Grand Mosque in Makkah” to the courtyard below, “resulting in his instant death,” Saudi police told the official SPA news agency.
A French foreign ministry official told AFP in Paris that the dead man was French but gave no further details.
The rare act was not the first of its kind to take place in Makkah, the holiest city in Islam — which, like other monotheistic religions, prohibits suicide.
The body was transported to hospital, with an investigation underway “to determine the victim’s identity, what led to the act and how he was able to commit it despite the existence of a metal fence,” SPA said.
Last year, a Saudi man tried to set himself on fire in front of the Kaaba — the square stone building in the center of the mosque compound — but was stopped by security forces.
Every year, millions of Muslim pilgrims from across the world travel to Makkah and Medina, Islam’s second holiest site, also in western Saudi Arabia.


Culture documentation by Saudi ministry to help dispel misconceptions

Updated 22 October 2020

Culture documentation by Saudi ministry to help dispel misconceptions

  • Dia hopes the documenting process will be done professionally and without bias

JEDDAH: Saudi artists welcomed the Ministry of Culture’s first-of-its-kind 16/13 initiative, documenting the diversity of Saudi culture and art through a visual library.
The library will display 16 aspects of culture and heritage through photography and videography that represent the 13 regions of the Kingdom.
Researchers will go around Saudi Arabia to meet creatives, and study their work, for inclusion in the initiative.
“This is an important step for the Kingdom, and it’s a global one to document visual art, whether works of art or cinema,” Dia Aziz Dia, Saudi artist and sculptor, told Arab News.
He added: “It’s important because this creates a database and can be used as a reference to study and compare paintings, photography, sculpting and various types of art, how they differ from one region to the next.”
It could also let government bodies discover art worthy of being put into museums for display, said Dia.
“It’s a good way to document history as well, and to study works of art and the standards of art here,” he said. “It’s on a global level and it’s done everywhere in the world, from England to the US.”
Dia hopes the documenting process will be done professionally and without bias.
He also said it was not easy to compile these works. “It’s an elaborate process to be able to get hold of all the works across the Kingdom. It’s an operation that requires organization, extensive studying and the cooperation of the Society of Culture and Arts and artists as well.”
Saad Tahaitah, documentary filmmaker and photographer, told Arab News that the initiative was promising. He was exposed to it through Saudi photographer Nawaf Al-Shehri, who has been traveling to help with the documentation process.
“The ministry’s been doing an incredible job; they’re (Nawaf and his team) going around the Kingdom and filming content for an actual library,” he said.
Tahaitah has worked on numerous short films on his own to depict the culture and heritage of Asir region, in the southwest of the country. He said he would not trade it for any other place and wished only to film in his hometown.
“I got into documentaries because I wanted honest storytelling. I didn’t want to write a script and hire actors, although that works for some,” he said. “The way I’ve been doing film is to let the person I’m filming go about their day and I let my camera roll.”
Tahaitah started documenting Asir because he wanted to dispel the misconceptions about it, and the stereotypes created through media like “Tash Ma Tash,” the famous Saudi comedy show.
“Asir is full of natural beauty and scenery to capture. It’s diverse in its sights and the people who live in it. Every once in a while, I realize there’s a thing I never noticed before and I film it, and I’ve lived here all my life. The way of life here, simply, can inspire you,” he said.
He added: “We don’t have one particular dance or only sit and dine in a huddle. In a way, I just wanted to showcase the reality of Asir because I love it.”
He said that this initiative could correct inaccuracies shared about certain areas in the Kingdom.