Pilgrims arrive in Saudi Arabia for journey of a lifetime

Pilgrims arrive in Saudi Arabia for journey of a lifetime
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Pilgrims arrive in Saudi Arabia for journey of a lifetime
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A panoramic view of the Grand Mosque in Makkah. (Getty Images)
Updated 03 August 2018

Pilgrims arrive in Saudi Arabia for journey of a lifetime

Pilgrims arrive in Saudi Arabia for journey of a lifetime
  • The Yemeni pilgrims spoke of how happy they were with facilities and services being provided so that they were able to perform Hajj rituals in comfort and tranquility
  • Madinah is home to many mosques visited by pilgrims, including Quba, the first mosque founded by the Prophet (peace be upon him) upon his arrival in Madinah from Makkah

JEDDAH: Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, adviser to King Salman, governor of Makkah and chairman of Makkah Region Development Authority, has adopted the authority’s operational plan for Hajj 2018.

The plan aims to increase efficiency of projects overseen by the authority at the holy sites, especially the railway of the holy cities, the Jamarat facility, maintaining and operating toilets at the holy sites, monitoring the efficiency of Hajj services, and establishing a database for Hajj services.
Jalal bin Abdul Jalil Kaaki, spokesman for the Makkah Region Development Authority, said that the plan was developed under the supervision of Prince Khaled Al-Faisal and followed up by Makkah’s deputy governor. It is in line with the new projects implemented by the authority at the holy sites this year, as well as existing projects. The authority will oversee operation of these projects to ensure pilgrims receive the best services.
Kaaki said the plan relies on constant and continuous coordination with all relevant authorities, especially those in the security sectors. The secretary-general of the authority, Hisham Al-Falih, is ensuring all relevant authorities work together to ensure the plan’s success.
He said the authority has deployed all its administrative and technical cadres, adding up to more than 14,000 employees along with more than 400 mechanisms to implement the operational plan. The authority set specified mechanisms to be implemented in the field, and made sure all projects are fully ready to serve pilgrims.
Kaaki added that this year’s operational plan includes supervising all projects for pilgrims at the holy sites, including the train that is expected to transport more than 350,000 pilgrims from Mina to Arafat and back. The train is set to transport a total of 2 million pilgrims during the Tashreeq days.
He said the plan for the Al-Jamarat facility focuses on its readiness to receive pilgrims to perform the ritual of “Ramy Al-Jamarat,” which means stoning the devil, as well as maintenance and operations-related projects. The plan also focuses on completing the necessary requirements to provide 36,000 toilets for use during Hajj.

Pilgrims in Madinah
In Madinah, pilgrims are being provided with all they need for their convenience and care, under the direct supervision of Prince Faisal bin Salman, governor of Madinah, and Prince Saud bin Khalid Al-Faisal, deputy governor of the region.
Many pilgrims take the chance to tour mosques and archaeological sites related to the Prophet’s life and traditions, spending some nights in Madinah so that they can pray in the Prophet’s Mosque before leaving for Makkah and starting their Hajj pilgrimage.
Madinah is home to many mosques visited by pilgrims, including Quba, the first mosque founded by the Prophet (peace be upon him) upon his arrival in Madinah from Makkah. The Prophet (PBUH) started building the mosque, which was later completed by his companions. The Prophet would visit the mosque, mostly on Saturdays, advising others to do the same and saying: “Whoever makes ablutions at home and then goes and prays in the Mosque of Quba, he will have a reward ‘Umrah.”
Pilgrims also visit Al-Jumaa Mosque near Quba to pray. This mosque has a special place in Islamic heritage, because the Prophet prayed here in the valley of Ranuna, on the first Friday after he arrived in the village of Quba on his way to Madinah.
Madinah is home to many historical sites visited by pilgrims and visitors during the pre-Hajj season, including Mount Uhud, the famous site associated with many of the Prophet’s hadiths. Uhud is also connected to the historic Battle of Uhud in the third Hijri year.
Among Madinah’s landmarks is Masjid Al-Qiblatain, or the Mosque of the Two Qiblas. This site is historically important to Muslims because it is where the Qur’anic revelation for Prophet Muhammad to change to the direction of the qibla took place. This occurred on the 15th of Shaban, when the Prophet was commanded by a Qur’anic revelation to face the Kaaba. The qibla, or the direction to which Muslims face during prayer, was then changed forever, from Bait Al-Maqdis in Jerusalem to the Holy Kaaba in Makkah.
Bir Othman bin Affan (Othman bin Affan well) is a popular site with pilgrims. It is also known as “Rumah well,” and was used for commerce 1,400 years ago. The well’s water is still useful and beneficial for all today.
The Ghamama Mosque, one of the most important historical and Islamic landmarks in Madinah, is to the southwest of the Prophet’s Mosque. The Prophet performed the rain prayer in it. A cloud shaded the Prophet from the sun when he was performing the rain prayer, so the mosque became known as “Al-Ghamama” (cloud).

Pilgrims’ safety
Security forces at the Prophet’s Mosque provide humanitarian services to the pilgrims and maintain security. They also control crowds to ensure the smooth and easy entry and exit of pilgrims around the clock through the gates and in the surrounding squares.
Brig. Abdul Rahman Al-Mishhan, commander of the special forces of the Prophet’s Mosque, told the Saudi Press Agency that the security forces began to implement their security plan well ahead of the 2018 Hajj season.
“This plan comprises several elements, starting with the security aspect which represents the main task of ensuring the safety, comfort and tranquility of visitors to the Prophet’s Mosque, monitoring the entrances of the Prophet’s Mosque, and watching all what is happening through closed-circuit TV cameras and deploying security personnel around the clock in the crowded places, as well as monitoring and circumventing all negative phenomena,” he said.
Al-Mishhan added that security forces at the Prophet’s Mosque help control the crowds by keeping passages free so worshippers are able to move either through the external passages or inside the Prophet’s Mosque.
He stressed that the security forces also carry out several humanitarian tasks such as taking care of lost children and reuniting them with their parents, and helping the elderly and people with special needs by guiding them and providing them with assistance and advice.
“The personnel also offer emergency services to those who need it in coordination with the Saudi Red Crescent Authority,” noted Al-Mishhan.

Pakistani arrangements
Pakistan’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Khan Hasham bin Saddique, visited Makkah to inspect the Hajj arrangements for Pakistani pilgrims. He was accompanied by Consul General Shehryar Akbar Khan and Director-General Hajj Sajid Yousafani.
Director of Hajj Imtiaz Shah briefed the ambassador about the arrangements. So far, 76,000 Pakistani pilgrims have arrived in Saudi Arabia, including 51,000 under the Government Hajj Scheme and 25,000 under private Hajj.
An effective complaint-handling system has been put in place to provide immediate relief to pilgrims. The ambassador also visited the Hajj Mission hospital for Pakistani pilgrims. So far the hospital has treated about 11,000 pilgrims for various ailments and has distributed more than 100 wheelchairs. The patients expressed satisfaction with the treatment and facilities in the hospital and the efforts of the medical staff.
Later in the day, the ambassador visited some of the accommodation offered by the Pakistani Hajj Mission in Makkah. The residents expressed satisfaction over standards of accommodation and food.
The ambassador praised the efforts of the Hajj Mission for its excellent arrangements and emphasized the need to maintain standards.

Yemeni pilgrims
The first batch of Yemeni pilgrims reached Al-Wadiah Border Crossing in Najran Region yesterday evening en route to perform their Hajj rituals.
All departments at Wadiah Border Crossing have done their best to provide services and ease the crossing of Yemeni pilgrims, receiving them in accordance with the directives of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The Yemeni pilgrims spoke of how happy they were with facilities and services being provided so that they were able to perform Hajj rituals in comfort and tranquility. They praised the great services being provided by Saudi Arabia for Muslims all over the world.

Scout camp
The activities of the Scout Camp were launched to serve pilgrims in Madinah during this year’s Hajj season. It is overseen by the Saudi Scouts Association, with the participation of 500 chief scouts and scout members.
The director of education in Madinah, Nasser bin Abdullah Al-Abdulkarim, who is supervising the scout camp to serve the pilgrims in the region, said that the launch was preceded by an early preparation of the public service camp headquarters in Madinah and the scheduling of preparation programs and training courses for participants in the camp, whether chiefs or scout members.
He stressed that all the participants in the scout camp would serve the pilgrims in the best way, providing the best voluntary services to them, indicating that the scout camp serving the pilgrims in Madinah is working under the umbrella of Hajj committee, headed by Prince Faisal bin Salman, governor of Madinah.
Abdulkarim added that with the follow-up of the minister of education and chairman of the Saudi Scout Association, Dr. Ahmed bin Mohammed Al-Issa, the scouts will provide their voluntary services along with a number of other groups to serve the pilgrims in Madinah. He stressed the spirit of voluntary work and patriotism in the scout camp.
The commander of the scout camp, Dr. Mohammed bin Sabeel Al-Juhani, confirmed that it was ready to be the starting point for the great services provided for pilgrims.
He added that the services provided are in line with the support of the Ministries of hajj and umrah, islamic affairs, da’wah, guidance, health and commerce.
The scouts start by collecting information and data about the surroundings of the mosque. One of the many voluntary services they provide is to guide lost pilgrims to the guidance centers of the Ministry of Hajj.
He added that scouts are also deployed to provide assistance to elderly pilgrims and transport them in golf carts. They will also help the Ministry of Health in a number of hospitals and health centers surrounding the Prophet’s Mosque, supporting a number of voluntary humanitarian services for pilgrims.


Virtual panel: Future of AlUla depends on sustainable growth model

Virtual panel: Future of AlUla depends on sustainable growth model
Updated 22 April 2021

Virtual panel: Future of AlUla depends on sustainable growth model

Virtual panel: Future of AlUla depends on sustainable growth model
  • First AlUla “Crossroads” panel concludes that Saudi Arabia’s accelerated aims to diversify the economy must marry the nation’s heritage with sustainable business models
  • The Crossroads panel sought to address how the Kingdom could achieve its divergent goals of decarbonizing and diversifying the economy

Saudi Arabia’s economy has long been defined by fossil fuels. However, the Gulf nation, which has some of the largest oil reserves in the world, has made the decisive step towards a sustainable future. In a bid to diversify its economy, Saudi Arabia is placing increased emphasis on integrated sustainability — which incorporates social, economic, and environmental dimensions and is grounded in principles of a circular economy — is at the forefront of all major developments in the Kingdom.

This includes AlUla, the ancient valley in Saudi Arabia’s Madinah region that covers a landmass of over 22,500 square meters and is being transformed into an “open-air museum” to showcase its 200,000 years of human history to the world under the Journey Through Time Masterplan, the vision for AlUla unveiled by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, chairman of the board of directors of the Royal Commission for AlUla.

At the core of the masterplan, which was unveiled on April 7, is integrated sustainability, the subject of the first panel staged by the Royal Commission of AlUla’s as part of its “Crossroads: Intellectual Panel Program.”

READ MORE

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, chairman of the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU), unveiled The Journey Through Time this month, the latest development rooted in Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 blueprint for the nation’s future. Click here for more.

Aptly titled “At the Crossroads: People and Planet: Can AlUla Unlock a Sustainable Future?” Moderated by Dr. Maliha Hashmi, executive director of health, wellbeing and biotech at NEOM, Saudi Arabia’s planned cross-border city in the Tabuk region, panelists included businessman and entrepreneur Alejandro Agag; former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi; architect and leader in sustainable design William McDonough; James Hardcastle, director of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Green List; Carlos Duarte, a biological oceanographer; and Gérard Mestrallet, executive chairman of Afalula, the French agency for Alula Development.

The panel sought to address how the Kingdom could achieve its divergent goals of decarbonizing and diversifying the economy, creating a wider scope of employment opportunities, and bolstering Saudi Arabia’s social and economic contribution to the global community in the most efficient and sustainable way possible. For example, the Kingdom has recently taken initial steps to reduce Saudi Arabia’s emissions by planting 10 billion trees and generating half its energy from renewables by 2030.

“They all have relationships that interact, and the important thing is to see this whole set of issues as a kind of ecosystems and organisms,” said McDonough, adding: “Everything kind of affects everything else and the benefits are tremendous. The recognition of multiplier effects is a key part of it, we find the economics work really beautifully and soon as you start to realize there are benefits coming from lots of directions.”

Sustainability is a vital part of any business, declared Agag, the CEO of Formula E, the single-seater motorsport championship that only uses electric cars. His business and entertainment model continues to prioritize sustainability.

“I think now the difficulty is not to make sustainability and business compatible, the difficulty is to do a business without having a sustainability angle in your business,” he said. “When we started Formula E 10 years ago and launched the first race in Beijing in 2014, everybody thought that Formula E would crash and burn.”

He added: “All the motorsport world had this consensus. My old-time partner and at the time CEO of Formula 1 Bernie Ecclestone told me that an electrical championship would never make it to the first race. But we did.”

Agag explained how the championship now has support from world’s major manufacturers. It has strong revenues, big sponsors, and continuous growth — all because it promotes electric cars. “And we did it at a time in 2014 when electric cars were not as available as now,” added Agag.

How does a nation push social and economic sustainability, particularly in respect to resurrecting ancient sites such as AlUla? Renzi, who contributed greatly to the revitalization of the sites of Pompei and Matera in Italy, transforming them into vibrant cultural and touristic destinations, agreed with Agag, stating that it is “impossible to do business without sustainability.”

He said: “The same is true for culture and tourism,” adding: “Pompei and Matera are very exciting examples. Pompei was one of the most amazing places around the world but in the last 20 to 50 years, Italy lost the momentum to invest in a new narrative for Pompei. Our government decided to involve the EU and Pompei pre-pandemic achieved its maximum number of visitors.”

The same is true for Matera, a rocky outcrop in the region of Basilicata, in southern Italy, which now houses museums such as the Casa Grotta di Vico Solitario, he continued.

“Matera became the capital of culture in Europe after a long period in which people thought of Matera as a place of ruin and disaster,” explained Renzi.

“What is the strategy? What is the secret?” posed Renzi. “In my view it is exactly what has been decided by the Royal Commission for AlUla: Use a great place, one of the capitals of the past, and transform it into a place for the future.”

READ MORE

AlUla, the ancient valley in Saudi Arabia’s Madinah region, home to 200,000 years of still largely unexplored human history, continues to play a central role in the Kingdom’s tourism strategy. In a bid to pave the way for the area’s future growth, the Royal Commission of AlUla (RCU) has announced that it will embark on its future projects by adhering to sustainable practices. More here.

What can we draw from 200,000 years of human history at AlUla to reimagine sustainability, challenge conventional wisdom, and draw inspiration from ancient ingenuity? Moreover, Hashmi posed, how does Saudi Arabia bring communities on board and balance the interests of protecting natural landscapes against urbanization and the needs of growing communities?

Hardcastle agreed that business cannot be done today without a sustainable approach.

“You cannot do nature conservation and protection without communities from that place,” he said. “With IUCN we’ve set up alongside our global members 160 countries and 20,000 scientists who have come together and discussed what makes nature conservation effective, especially in areas like Sharaan, AlUla, and other places in Saudi Arabia.

“The overwhelming response is that the places that are effective are where you have had full engagement from the outset with the communities who live and breathe the air who do not see these places as wild but see them as part of their heritage.”

As Saudi Arabia moves into its next chapter of growth, what this panel underlined was the crucial balance that must be struck between maintaining the country’s heritage and ancient past, using its local communities and employing sustainable practices in all areas of business and development.


Saudi Arabia confirms 11 COVID-19 deaths, 1,055 new cases

Saudi Arabia confirms 11 COVID-19 deaths, 1,055 new cases
Updated 22 April 2021

Saudi Arabia confirms 11 COVID-19 deaths, 1,055 new cases

Saudi Arabia confirms 11 COVID-19 deaths, 1,055 new cases
  • The Kingdom said 1,086 patients recovered in past 24 hours
  • The highest number of cases were recorded in Riyadh with 468

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia recorded 11 new COVID-19 related deaths on Monday, raising the total number of fatalities to 6,869.
The Ministry of Health confirmed 1,055 new confirmed cases reported in the Kingdom in the previous 24 hours, meaning 409,093 people have now contracted the disease. 
Of the total number of cases, 9,776 remain active and 1,182 in critical condition.

According to the ministry, the highest number of cases were recorded in the capital Riyadh with 468, followed by Makkah with 206, the Eastern Province with 166, Madinah recorded 41, and Asir confirmed 35 cases.
The ministry also announced that 1,086 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 392,448.
The ministry renewed its call on the public to adhere to the measures and abide by instructions.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected over 144 million people globally and the death toll has reached around 3.07 million.


King Salman calls for global approach to tackling climate change

King Salman speaking at the virtual Climate summit. (Photo: Bandar Galoud)
King Salman speaking at the virtual Climate summit. (Photo: Bandar Galoud)
Updated 22 April 2021

King Salman calls for global approach to tackling climate change

King Salman speaking at the virtual Climate summit. (Photo: Bandar Galoud)
  • Saudi ruler tells summit of world leaders the challenges created by global warming do not respect national borders
  • Biden says US will reduce emissions by up to 52 percent by 2030; China, Russia also pledge to make cuts

NEW YORK: Boosting international cooperation is the “optimal solution” to tackling climate change, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman told a summit of world leaders on Thursday.

He said global warming threatens lives on our planet and that the challenges “recognize no national borders.”

“The objective is sustainable development, and in order to achieve this there must be a comprehensive methodology that takes into account the different developments and circumstances that exist around the world,” King Salman said during the Leaders Summit on Climate, which was hosted by the US.

He said the Kingdom has launched packages of strategies and introduced regulations with the aim of using clean, renewable sources to produce 50 percent of the country’s energy needs by 2030.

“Enhancing the level of international cooperation is the optimal solution to meeting the challenges of climate change,” the king said.

“During our G20 presidency last year we advocated the need to adopt a notion of a circular carbon economy, launching two international initiatives to curb land degradation and to protect coral reefs.”

He added that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman recently announced two new environmental plans: the Green Saudi Initiative and the Green Middle East Initiative. They aim to reduce carbon emissions in the region by more than 10 percent of current global contributions.

“These initiatives also aim at planting 50 billion trees in the region,” he said.

The Kingdom, he added, will work with its partners to achieve these goals and host forums for both initiatives later this year.

“Finally we would like to affirm our keenness and commitment to cooperation to combat climate change, in order to create a better environment for future generations, wishing success for our efforts to protect our planet,” he said.

Earlier, US President Joe Biden — who convened the summit with a view to building global momentum for climate action ahead of COP26, the UN’s

Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, in November — pledged to cut US fossil fuel emissions by up to 52 percent by 2030.

“Meeting this moment is about more than preserving our planet,” Biden said. “It’s about providing a better future for all of us.” He called it “a moment of peril but a moment of opportunity.”

In his presidential campaign last year, Biden made tackling climate change one of his top priorities. While Republicans oppose his plans on the grounds they will cost jobs in the coal, oil and gas industries, Biden believes that a transition to cleaner energy sources will create millions of well-paid jobs, a stance echoed by many of the world leaders who attended the summit.

“This is not bunny-hugging, this is about growth and jobs,” said the UK’s Conservative prime minister, Boris Johnson.

Forty leaders are taking part in the two-day summit. The UN has described 2021 as a “climate emergency” year, with scientists warning that climate change caused by the use of coal and other fossil fuels is exacerbating natural disasters such as droughts, floods, hurricanes and wildfires. There are fears that the world now faces a race against time to avoid the disastrous extremes of global warming.

The world’s most powerful nations have announced various measures to address the crisis. They include targets for reductions in harmful emissions, plans to stop the public financing of coal, and a commitment to integrating climate action into economic-stimulus plans in an effort to “build back better” after the pandemic-related economic collapse, with the goal of “leaving no one behind.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin also made commitments to reduce emissions. Neither of them made any mention of their respective non-climate disputes with Biden.

Xi — whose country is the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, followed closely by the US — said that “to protect the environment is to protect productivity, and to boost the environment is to boost productivity. It’s as simple as that.”

Putin, who Biden recently referred to as a “killer” because of the Russian leader’s crackdown on opponents, said his country is “genuinely interested in galvanizing international cooperation so as to look further for effective solutions to climate change as well as to all other vital challenges.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel joined a number of other leaders who spoke at the summit in welcoming the US back to the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, from which President Donald Trump withdrew.

She told Biden: “There can be no doubt about the world needing your contribution if we really want to fulfill our ambitious goals.”

Small states and island nations, which contribute the least to greenhouse- gas emissions but face the most severe dangers and damage resulting from climate change as they are increasingly affected by hurricanes and rising sea levels, asked the major world powers for help.

Gaston Alfonso Browne, prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, said his people are “teetering on the edge of despair.” He asked the international community for debt relief and assistance to help his country recover from the effects of storms and the pandemic, to “prevent a flow of climate refugees.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described the commitments made during the summit to achieving carbon neutrality as “a much-needed boost to our collective efforts to address the climate crisis ahead of COP26 in November in Glasgow.”

He added: “It is now urgent that all countries, especially other major emitters, present their 2030 climate plans well before COP 26.”

Guterres also urged leaders to deliver on $100 billion of climate commitments made to developing countries a decade ago.

“The world will be watching carefully, particularly those already experiencing severe climate impacts and an ongoing economic crisis,” he said.

“Today’s summit shows the tide is turning for climate action, but there is still a long way to go. To avert a permanent climate catastrophe, we must now urgently build on the momentum delivered today, in this make-or-break year for people and the planet.”


New envoy to Sweden Einas Al-Shahwan becomes Saudi Arabia’s 3rd female ambassador

New envoy to Sweden Einas Al-Shahwan becomes Saudi Arabia’s 3rd female ambassador
Updated 22 April 2021

New envoy to Sweden Einas Al-Shahwan becomes Saudi Arabia’s 3rd female ambassador

New envoy to Sweden Einas Al-Shahwan becomes Saudi Arabia’s 3rd female ambassador

RIYADH: Einas Al-Shahwan, the Kingdom’s ambassador-designate to Sweden, has become Saudi Arabia’s 3rd female ambassador.
During a virtual meeting with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Al-Shahwan was among a number of newly appointed ambassadors taking their oath.

The oaths were taken in front of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (SPA)

The ceremony was also attended by Prince Faisal bin Farhan, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister.

Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan became the first female ambassador when she was named the Saudi envoy to the US in 2019. 
In Oct. 2020, Amal Al-Mouallami was appointed as Saudi ambassador to Norway.

Below is a complete list of the new appointments:

The ambassador-designate to the Republic of Portugal, Prince Saud bin Abdul Mohsen bin Abdulaziz;
the ambassador-designate to Sweden Einas bint Ahmed Al-Shahwan;
the ambassador-designate to the Sultanate of Oman, Abdullah bin Saud Al-Anzi;
the ambassador-designate to the Czech Republic, Abdullah bin Mutaab Al-Rasheed;
the ambassador-designate to the Republic of Korea, Sami bin Muhammad Al-Sadhan;
the ambassador-designate to Turkmenistan, Saeed bin Othman Suwaied;
the ambassador-designate to the United Republic of the Comoros, Atallah bin Zayed bin Zayed;
the ambassador-designate to the Republic of Tajikistan Walid bin Abdulrahman al-Rashidan;
the ambassador-designate to the Kyrgyz Republic Ibrahim bin Radi Al-Radi;
the ambassador-designate to the Republic of Albania, Faisal bin Ghazi Hafzi;
the ambassador-designate to the Republic of Kenya Khalid bin Abdullah Al Salman;
the ambassador-designate to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Faisal bin Talq Al-Baqami;
the ambassador-designate to the Republic of Cuba Faisal bin Falah Al-Harbi;
the ambassador-designate to the Republic of Chad Amer Bin Ali Al-Shahri;
the ambassador-designate to the Republic of Burkina Faso Fahd bin Abdulrahman Al-Dossary.

The oaths were taken in front of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (SPA)

Saudi Cruise partners with MSC Cruises for winter season

Saudi Cruise partners with MSC Cruises for winter season
Updated 22 April 2021

Saudi Cruise partners with MSC Cruises for winter season

Saudi Cruise partners with MSC Cruises for winter season
  • The two companies are aiming to host 170,000 cruise guests this winter

JEDDAH: Saudi Cruise Co., owned by the Public Investment Fund, signed a joint agreement on Wednesday with MSC Cruises to launch its trips in the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf during the upcoming winter season.
The announcement came during a meeting between Fawaz Farooqui, interim CEO of the Red Sea Cruise Co., and Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman of MSC Cruises, in Riyadh to sign the framework agreement to mark the start of the new partnership.
The two companies are aiming to host 170,000 cruise guests this winter.
Under the agreement, the MSC Magnifica will sail in the Red Sea from Jeddah on several seven-day trips from Nov. 13 through March 26. These trips will offer passengers access to a selection of ports and destinations on the coasts of the Red Sea. A weekly stopover will be included at Al-Wajh Port, which will connect passengers with AlUla, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The city of Jeddah is preparing for the first Formula 1 race hosted by the Kingdom on Dec. 5. These trips will provide an opportunity for some passengers of the MSC Magnifica to enjoy this global sports event in conjunction with their trips aboard the cruise.
MSC Magnifica will visit Dammam on a weekly basis from Dec. 2 through March 24, as part of its winter program in the Arabian Gulf. This trip will allow passengers to visit the Al-Ahsa Oasis, another UNESCO World Heritage site in the Kingdom, in addition to many exciting destinations and attractions in the region.
Farooqui said his company is keen to establish a long-term partnership, which will increase the number of cruises coming to Saudi Arabia in the future.
“The Kingdom has a lot to offer to its visitors, and the new cooperation will open the doors for travelers from all over the world to be among the first to have the opportunity to explore the rich Saudi heritage and hospitality,” he said.
Farooqui also said these trips will diversify the Saudi economy and increase the country’s GDP. In addition, the cruises will provide employment opportunities in the fields of port business, tourism and entertainment in the selected destinations to nearby communities.
By the year 2035, the company aims to create 50,000 direct and indirect job opportunities through the newly established cruise sector.
Vago said he wants his company to place Saudi Arabia on the global cruise map and make it a major tourist destination.
“We look forward to providing new experiences for tourists from within and outside the Kingdom, enabling them to discover the beauty of untouched islands, the picturesque beaches along the Saudi coasts, in addition to the historical and heritage sites scattered in many tourist destinations,” he said.