Eye on the Hajj: Mystery lensman who took first photos of Makkah

Eye on the Hajj: Mystery lensman who took first photos of Makkah
Abdul Ghaffar’s photo shows a general view of the Holy Mosque. Much still remains unknown about the life of the first Makkah photographer. (Library of Congress photos)
Updated 23 August 2018

Eye on the Hajj: Mystery lensman who took first photos of Makkah

Eye on the Hajj: Mystery lensman who took first photos of Makkah
  • Ghaffar recorded his experiences in Makkah between 1884-1885 in diaries and correspondences with his mentor, the Dutch scholar Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje
  • Today, Abdul Gaffar’s pictures speak for themselves, offering an alternative depiction of the region

JEDDAH: Little is known about Abdul Ghaffar, the first photographer to capture images of Makkah, yet his evocative portraits of the Hajj season stand as a fitting tribute almost 130 years later.

Ghaffar recorded his experiences in Makkah between 1884-1885 in diaries and correspondences with his mentor, the Dutch scholar Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje.

When they met in Makkah, Ghaffar already practiced photography, but with a little systematic approach to his subjects, Hurgronje said. 

Between 1886 and 1889, Ghaffar shot around 250 photographs of Makkah and its inhabitants, as well as the first photographs of pilgrims during the Hajj season. Hurgronje was the first to admit that Ghaffar’s work displayed considerable artistic talent.

Aside from his love for photography, Ghaffar worked as a dentist, watchmaker, gunmaker and a smelter for gold and silver.

However, his greatest interest lay in the modern photography techniques introduced by Hurgronje. Ghaffar was eager to learn more, and so offered Hurgronje the use of his own photography studio.

After Hurgronje was forced to leave the Arabian Peninsula, Ghaffar used the albumen print and 144 glass plates — a medium preceding film — that the Dutchman had left behind.

Hurgronje believed that by leaving these “gifts” he would be able to manipulate the material Ghaffar shot.

Ghaffar did share his photos with Hurgronje, and it was clear that his work was influenced by his continuing correspondence with the Dutch photographer. However, he did not agree to Hurgronje’s wishes.

Hurgronje wanted images of the locals in Makkah to support his work describing women, slaves, the poor, and other anthropological elements. Ghaffar provided only a few of those, choosing to capture whatever caught his eye instead.

The mysterious photographer sent more than 250 printed photographs to Hurgronje in 15 shipments between 1886 and 1889. Hurgronje published many of these in his own books.

Ghaffar’s remaining unpublished works, or at least the images attributed to him, are preserved in the Leiden University Library in the Netherlands in the archives of Snouck Hurgronje — again listed as works under the Dutch photographer’s name.

In an 1889 publication, which featured the first large collection of photographs of pilgrims during the Hajj season, Hurgronje mentioned Ghaffar only as “a doctor from Makkah, whom I educated.”

Today, the images speak for themselves, offering an alternative to the common depiction of the Arabic Peninsula from that era.

The entire collection is valued at up £120,000 ($160,000), and includes the first photograph of Kiswat Al-Kaaba in Makkah, images of the mosque and the Holy Kaaba, the tents of pilgrims in Mount Arafat and a painting at the the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah.


Virus rules violators warned as cases decline in Saudi Arabia

Virus rules violators warned as cases decline in Saudi Arabia
Hundreds of individuals were fined for breaking social gathering protocols in different part of Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
Updated 1 min 24 sec ago

Virus rules violators warned as cases decline in Saudi Arabia

Virus rules violators warned as cases decline in Saudi Arabia
  • Saudi Arabia has administered more than 11.7 million COVID-19 vaccines so far at a rate of 33.5 doses per hundred

JEDDAH: More than 250 individuals were fined for breaking social gathering protocols in the last 24 hours, including 72 women attending a wedding where authorities imposed fines on both guests and the host.
For the fourth day in a row, the number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in Saudi Arabia remained below 1,000 with a significant rise in recoveries.
A total of 886 new cases of the cases were recorded in the Kingdom on Monday, meaning 433,980 people in Saudi Arabia have now contracted the disease.
In addition, 1,127 new recovered cases were also announced, taking the total number of recoveries to 418,914, meaning the Kingdom’s recovery rate has increased to 96.5 percent, marking a significant decline in the epidemiological curve.
There were 7,892 active cases, 1,377 of them critical, an increase of just one patient in the past 24 hours.

FASTFACTS

• A total of 886 new cases were recorded in the Kingdom on Monday.

• The highest number of cases was recorded in the Riyadh region.

• More than 250 individuals fined for violating health protocols.

The regions with the highest number of infections were Riyadh with 281 cases and Makkah with 250. Twelve new COVID-19 related deaths were reported, raising the death toll to 7,174.
Saudi Arabia has administered more than 11.7 million COVID-19 vaccines so far at a rate of 33.5 doses per hundred. Of the Kingdom’s 34.8 million people, 33.6 percent have now been vaccinated with at least one jab.
On Monday, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs closed nine mosques temporarily in six regions, after cases of COVID-19 were detected among worshipers.
The ministry stated that the total number of mosques that had been closed now amounted to 1,210, with 1,188 subsequently reopened after the completion of disinfection.


GCC national ID not valid for travel

GCC national ID not valid for travel
Travelers must verify the conditions of the destination country and ensure they are met. (SPA)
Updated 12 min 41 sec ago

GCC national ID not valid for travel

GCC national ID not valid for travel
  • King Fahd Causeway Passports raises operational capacity

RIYADH: Using a national ID as a document for traveling to Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries remains suspended, a spokesman for the Eastern Province Passports said.

Citizens wishing to travel must verify the conditions of the destination country and ensure they are met, Mualla Al-Otaibi added.
In February last year, the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs decided to suspend GCC citizens’ use of national identity cards for travel to and from the Kingdom, coinciding with the onset of precautionary measures to combat COVID-19.
Al-Otaibi said the border points of the Eastern Region Passports had resumed work after the lifting of travel suspensions through all air, land and sea ports on May 17.
“Preventive maintenance work was carried out for all border backup devices and systems,” said Al-Otaibi.
A further 10 lanes have been installed in the departure area, bringing the total number of lanes to 27, with 36 lanes in the arrival area.
King Fahd Causeway Passports increased its operational capacity by 30 percent to facilitate passenger travel.
The spokesman said that meetings and workshops were held with port authorities to ensure speedy and smooth travel, while applying all precautions.
The movement of passengers leaving for Bahrain had decreased sharply since Monday morning, he said. The director general of Saudi Customs at the King Fahd Causeway, Dhaifallah Al-Otaibi, told Arab News they were ready to receive arrivals and departures through the causeway, and to provide customs services to travelers of all categories.
Customs at the causeway linking Saudi Arabia and Bahrain strived to enhance customs procedures, he added.

We are ready to receive arrivals and departures through the causeway.

Dhaifallah Al-Otaibi, DG Saudi Customs

He confirmed the continued cooperation and coordination between all parties operating at the border crossing, and that port authorities were all working as one business system to provide the best services.
“Customs (the land link between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain) continues to take precautionary measures, (which are) more intense with the start of travel between the two countries to ensure the maximum levels of safety recommended to protect travelers and arrivals, in addition to protecting the employees of the port,” he added.
Customs at the King Fahd Causeway continued working on freight traffic since the suspension of personal travel between the two countries last year, he said.
Causeway customs statistics said that procedures for about 272,000 trucks entering and leaving the Kingdom had been completed between March 2020 until the end of April 2021, while about 325,000 vehicles had crossed the causeway in both directions since the beginning of this year.


Saudi Arabia announces $20m grant to help cover Sudan’s debt with IMF

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan headed the Kingdom’s delegation at the International Conference in Support of Sudan in Paris. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan headed the Kingdom’s delegation at the International Conference in Support of Sudan in Paris. (SPA)
Updated 44 min 30 sec ago

Saudi Arabia announces $20m grant to help cover Sudan’s debt with IMF

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan headed the Kingdom’s delegation at the International Conference in Support of Sudan in Paris. (SPA)
  • King Salman and the crown prince were keen to ease Sudan’s debt burden

LONDON: Saudi Arabia has provided a $20 million grant toward covering part of Sudan’s financial debt with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said the grant was an extension to previous support provided by the Kingdom to Sudan.
He was speaking as he led the Kingdom’s delegation at the International Conference in Support of Sudan in Paris on Monday.
Saudi Arabia also announced it would transfer the balance into the two emergency and deferred fees accounts with the IMF, to contribute to the handling of arrears and alleviate Sudan’s debt burden.
Prince Faisal said that King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman were keen to ease Sudan’s debt burden and contribute to addressing the nation’s arrears, in addition to “enhancing Saudi investments in Sudan and the Kingdom’s support for all sectors that would achieve the aspirations of the Sudanese people toward further progress, prosperity and development,” Saudi Press Agency reported.
“What unites us together today is our common goal to support the transitional phase that Sudan is going through toward a bright and prosperous future, and based on this, on April 13, 2019, my country announced its full support for the Sudanese people regarding their future and the measures taken are in their interest.”
He said that the Kingdom provided a package of humanitarian and development aid.
Prince Faisal said that the Kingdom was one of the first countries that contributed and participated, through the framework of the Friends of Sudan Group, in supporting this transitional phase in Sudan.
“This comes from my country’s belief in the importance of activating Sudan’s regional role and providing everything that would protect Sudan and preserve its security,” Prince Faisal added.
He said he appreciated the roles of the US, France, and the UK and their tireless efforts in supporting Sudan under for the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative.
The Kingdom’s Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan also attended the conference in the French capital, which was part of the Summit on the Financing of African Economies that is attended by more than 40 countries and will continue until Tuesday.


Saudi Arabia records 12 COVID-19 deaths, 886 new cases

Saudi Arabia records 12 COVID-19 deaths, 886 new cases
Updated 17 May 2021

Saudi Arabia records 12 COVID-19 deaths, 886 new cases

Saudi Arabia records 12 COVID-19 deaths, 886 new cases
  • The Kingdom said 1,127 patients recovered in past 24 hours
  • 9 mosques temporarily closed after some people tested positive for coronavirus

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia recorded 12 new COVID-19 related deaths on Monday, raising the total number of fatalities to 7,174.
The Ministry of Health confirmed 886 new confirmed cases reported in the Kingdom in the previous 24 hours, meaning 433,980 people have now contracted the disease. 
Of the total number of cases, 7,892 remain active and 1,377 in critical condition.
According to the ministry, the highest number of cases were recorded in the capital Riyadh with 281, followed by Makkah with 250, the Eastern Province with 97, Madinah recorded 63 and Asir confirmed 51 cases.
The health ministry also announced that 1,127 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 418,914.

The ministry renewed its call on the public to register to receive the vaccine, and adhere to the measures and abide by instructions.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs temporary closed nine mosques in six regions after some people tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the total number of mosques closed to 1,210 within 100 days, 1,188 of which have reopened after being sterilized.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected over 163 million people globally and the death toll has reached around 3.39 million.

 


Saudi Red Crescent Authority declares success in Ramadan plan

Saudi Red Crescent Authority declares success in Ramadan plan
Updated 17 May 2021

Saudi Red Crescent Authority declares success in Ramadan plan

Saudi Red Crescent Authority declares success in Ramadan plan

MAKKAH: The Saudi Red Crescent Authority (SRCA) declared the success of its plan during Ramadan by being available in the central region and inside the Grand Mosque in Makkah, with the participation of 500 female and male volunteers who provided more than 49,000 volunteer hours, via the SRCA branch in Makkah, and on the roads leading to it.

SRCA said that during Ramadan, Makkah centers received 9,411 reports, most of which were for cases of sickness with 5,713 reports including respiratory diseases, diabetes, fainting and epilepsy, while accident reports reached 3,698 including car accidents, falls and burns.

SRCA receives reports via the free-toll number 997 or via the “Asefni” smartphone application.

On May 8, SRCA marked World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day by celebrating the efforts of humanitarian workers for “their inspiring role in pushing forward the wheel of development.”

SRCA President Dr. Jalal Al-Owaisi said that the authority was keen to consolidate and spread human values and enhance community awareness.