Over 1.3m pilgrims arrived in KSA for Hajj

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Muslim pilgrims climb Mount Mercy on the plains of Arafat during the peak of the annual hajj pilgrimage near the holy city of Makkah, in this October 25, 2012. (Reuters)
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Muslim pilgrims head to take part in the symbolic stoning of the devil at the Jamarat Bridge in Mina, near Makkah, which marks the final major rite of the hajj, in this file photo taken on September 1, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 13 August 2018

Over 1.3m pilgrims arrived in KSA for Hajj

  • Electronic platforms had also helped to make the process easier
  • Capsules are fitted with a sliding door at the end that can be opened by a magnetic card for each user, to ensure privacy

JEDDAH: More than 1.3 million pilgrims have arrived in Saudi Arabia for this year’s Hajj season, and more than 200,000 “domestic pilgrims” have also registered for services including the “low-cost Hajj,” “affordable Hajj,” and “general program,” the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah announced on Sunday.
The number of pilgrims registered for the general program is 160,221, with 37,891 signing up for low-cost Hajj and 10,016 for the affordable Hajj.
Deputy Minister of Hajj and Umrah Abdulfattah Mashat said that the ministry had worked hard to ensure that all programs and facilities to receive guests in accordance with the highest standards were in place well in advance of the season. He said that its electronic platforms had also helped to make the process easier.
Mashat expressed his hope that all pilgrims would enjoy Hajj in comfort and safety and that God would accept their prayers and that they would return safely to their home countries after performing their pilgrimage.
This Hajj season pilgrims will also be able to try out the latest mobile hotel capsules — sleeping units that offer hotel room services and facilities in the smallest possible space, Hadiyah, the Hajji and Mu’tamer’s Gift Charitable Association has announced.
These capsules can be placed side-by-side or on top of each other, with a height of two units. When the capsules are stacked a three-step staircase gives access to the top capsule.
Capsules are fitted with a sliding door at the end that can be opened by a magnetic card for each user, to ensure privacy.


‘Dare to dream,’ football hero Thierry Henry tells Saudi fans

Footballing great Thierry Henry thrills fans as he signs 10 footballs on stage and tosses them to the audience. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 35 min 18 sec ago

‘Dare to dream,’ football hero Thierry Henry tells Saudi fans

  • Fans got up close and personal with the former champion during a segment called the lightning round, where Henry had to answer questions in 10 seconds

DHAHRAN: Stepping onto the Tanween stage in front of a sold-out venue full of cheering fans, footballing great Thierry Henry was quick to say how “hyped” he was to meet his Saudi supporters.
As a guest and speaker at Tanween Season, the former Arsenal striker and French international faced a busy schedule on Saturday after arriving at King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) in Dhahran.
First, he had a “meet and greet” with fans, many wearing Arsenal shirts, which was quickly followed by a discussion of the theme for this year’s event, “Play.”
After two young footballers from Riyadh performed a series of tricks that included balancing a football on one leg, then kicking it in the air to land on their backs, Henry said: “I would have broken my back trying to do that. It’s not easy.”
On his second visit to Saudi Arabia — the first was to Riyadh last year — Henry said that he was impressed by this year’s Tanween theme since he had seen firsthand the results of a children’s quality-of-life program at Tanween.
“What I liked most was to see the smiles on the faces of those children when I was walking around the impressive building. Being able to dream is key for me, but seeing how the youngsters were interacting, and how happy they were with their families walking around, was just priceless,” he said.
Growing up, Henry’s father played an important role in his development. The footballer did not miss a beat when answering that his father was his idol. “My dad was the hardest man to please; to put a smile on his face was the hardest thing to do,” he said.
Although the footballer grew up in a “not so great” Paris neighborhood, he considered it an enriching cultural experience. “It was great for me at the time because it allowed me to travel, although I wasn’t really traveling,” he said.
France’s colonial history meant he was exposed to different cultures early in his life.
“If I going upstairs to have couscous, to the second floor to have Senegalese food, or to eat with the Portuguese downstairs, it allowed me to travel, staying where I was,” he explained.
During his talk Henry showed that his Arabic extends to common niceties such as “shukran,” “afwan” and “alsalamau alaikum.”
Having an impact on the English Premier League and his role in Arsenal’s record-breaking era almost two decades ago are more important to him that being considered the world’s best striker, he said. As for his favorite stadium, Henry was quick to choose Highbury.
Offering advice to younger Saudis in the audience, Henry urged them to face their problems calmly and cleverly.
“Don’t run away. Face it and don’t be scared to fail. Come back again, but smarter,” he said.
Fans got up close and personal with the former champion during a segment called the lightning round, where Henry had to answer questions in 10 seconds. That revealed that he has always admired Muhammad Ali as the greatest, Messi is his current favorite football player and winning the World Cup was the most memorable moment in his career.
After the talk, Henry thrilled the crowd — a reminder of his playing days — by tossing 10 footballs to lucky fans who cheered as he left the stage.