Angels of Arafat: How faith in oneself and others can help you sail through tough times

Angels of Arafat: How faith in oneself and others can help you sail through tough times
Muslim pilgrims gather on Mount Arafat. (AFP)
Updated 28 August 2018

Angels of Arafat: How faith in oneself and others can help you sail through tough times

Angels of Arafat: How faith in oneself and others can help you sail through tough times

MAKKAH: Hajj may have a different meaning for different people.

Besides prayers, days of intense physical activities are a humbling experience and teaches the faithful to survive in tough conditions.

In Arafat and Muzdalifa, I found the philosophy of life in a journey that lasted a day and a night.

Losing my way

Even though preparations start early, the day of Arafat is the most intense part of Hajj.

Our start from the Mina camp was delayed because a wind storm the previous evening had hampered preparations.

Due to slow-moving traffic, fellow pilgrims decided to leave the bus and walk toward Arafat. I joined them too.

But when you have millions of people walking around you in the same attire, keeping track of fellow pilgrims becomes next to impossible.

To me it seemed getting separated from the group and losing my way is where the actual journey of Arafat started.

Lost in Arafat

The heat in the Mount Arafat region was at its peak, so much so that I was not able to walk properly.

When the given address was nowhere to be found, I took refuge in a nearby camp housing pilgrims from Pakistan.

Pilgrims here not only gave me space to rest but also offered food and water and then guided me toward my destination.

On my way, I once again felt exhausted and this time decided to seek medical help from a nearby onsite government health care center.

At the clinic, staff were very responsive and efficient. They gave me ORS solution and I was back on my feet within minutes.

But, a few miles later, I felt exhausted again. With unbearable heat and surrounded by millions, I felt for a while that I wouldn't be able to survive and it was the end.

But there were more "Arafat angels" around to make things easier. The cleaner of a nearby camp rescued me this time around.

He took me inside a tent where several other pilgrims, separated from their groups, were trying to catch up with prayers.

Warm welcome

These pilgrims made me feel like a family.

This is when I decided not to waste time and energy in looking for my designated camp and instead spend the rest of my time here with the new Arafati family.

The group of people inside this tent were wonderful. None of us knew each other. All of us from different parts of world. We didn’t even speak the same language but we were all connected like a family.

The best part of the camp was a celebratory atmosphere about this special day in Arafat. They were praying as well as sharing food with each other. Some were reading the Qur’an, some were offering salat. And few were resting and having Kahwa.

The pilgrims also sang a very soulful Nasheed devoted to the day of Arafat.

Till this point I was worried about my health and whether I would be able to travel to Muzdalefa, our next stop.

But not anymore!

A Burmese family in the tent offered to give me a ride.

Hence, soon after sunset, we started a new journey with strangers. Noor and his wife and sisters were extremely caring.

We all traveled together. We spent a night at Muzdalefa together and by dawn we parted ways.

Lessons and reflections

Those 18 hours have been the experience of a lifetime for me.

A friend had rightly said: “Hajj is just a slight reflection of Youm Akhara (the Day of Judgment) when your loved ones will be nearby but you will still be all alone.”

During my Hajj journey, especially on Arafat day, I will never forget the souls as they came forward whenever we needed help the most.

I learned the most important lesson in life: How faith in oneself and others can help you sail through tough times.

Even if you are alone in the worst situation, Allah is there to rescue you. Just have faith!


Saudi Arabia announces 12 more COVID-19 deaths

Saudi Arabia announces 12 more COVID-19 deaths
Updated 10 min 9 sec ago

Saudi Arabia announces 12 more COVID-19 deaths

Saudi Arabia announces 12 more COVID-19 deaths
  • The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom has increased to 391,362
  • A total of 6,858 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced 12 deaths from COVID-19 and 1028 new infections on Wednesday.
Of the new cases, 431 were recorded in Riyadh, 220 in Makkah, 157 in the the Eastern Province, 45 in Madinah, 45 in Asir, 30 in Jazan, 25 in Tabuk, 14 in the Northern Borders region, 13 in Najran, 11 in Hail and 10 in Al-Jouf.
The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom increased to 391,362 after 824 more patients recovered from the virus.
A total of 6,858 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far.
Over 7.5 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Saudi Arabia to date.


Chips with everything: Saudi restaurant where waiters are robots

Chips with everything: Saudi restaurant where waiters are robots
Updated 21 April 2021

Chips with everything: Saudi restaurant where waiters are robots

Chips with everything: Saudi restaurant where waiters are robots
  • Room is fitted with strategically placed sensors that allow the machines to move about and take food to customers

MAKKAH: We’ve all been there … you order a meal in a restaurant, and the waiter arrives with a pasta salad instead of a chicken biryani.
There are no such issues at Restaurant Robot in Jazan. As the name suggests, the waiters are not fallible human beings, but robots powered by sophisticated artificial intelligence.
Six robot assistants are operating in the city center restaurant to deliver trays of Asian dishes to patrons. The system was originally set up as a precaution to reduce human contact during the coronavirus pandemic, but it has proved a hit with visitors.
In a system designed by young Saudi engineer Reham Omar, the restaurant interior has been fitted with strategically placed sensors that allow the robots to move about and take food to customers.
“Thanks to the sensors, the robots can sense anything standing near them, allowing them to stop walking or change their routes accordingly,” she told Arab News
“Each robot has had a map of the restaurant interior and the location of each table programmed into their memory. When the robot gets to the targeted table, customers can pick up their food and order the robot to leave.”
Omar said the idea had been developed by drawing on the experiences of other countries, and with support from the Saudi government for the food industry.
“We are proud of our project, as small as it is,” she said. “Customers are loving the robots and are impressed with the idea.
“Cultures are changing, and people are now eager to discover new technologies that can improve their quality of life.”


Saudi Arabia re-elected to Chemical Weapons watchdog’s Executive Council

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) held the 25th Session of the Conference of the States Parties in The Hague, Netherlands. (Twitter/@OPCW)
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) held the 25th Session of the Conference of the States Parties in The Hague, Netherlands. (Twitter/@OPCW)
Updated 21 April 2021

Saudi Arabia re-elected to Chemical Weapons watchdog’s Executive Council

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) held the 25th Session of the Conference of the States Parties in The Hague, Netherlands. (Twitter/@OPCW)
  • OPCW oversees the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention
  • The Kingdom has been a member of the council since 1997

LONDON: Saudi Arabia has been re-elected as a member of the Executive Council of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), in the Asia section, until 2023.
It happened at The Hague, in the Netherlands, on Tuesday during the 25th Session of the Conference of the States Parties, which oversees the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).
Ziyad Al-Attiyah, the Saudi ambassador to the Netherlands and the Kingdom’s permanent representative to the OPCW, thanked the nations that supported the re-election of his country, and said that it is a reflection of Saudi Arabia’s status under the leadership of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. 
The Kingdom looks forward to working with the rest of the council’s members to enhance the implementation of the CWC, he added.
Al-Attiyah affirmed his country’s desire to strengthen cooperation as part of the efforts to prohibit weapons of mass destruction and prevent their proliferation, and to ensure the Middle East becomes a region free of such weapons to enhance international peace and security.
He added that the Kingdom’s chemical industries sector is one of the largest in the region and growing steadily, which makes it one of the leading countries in this field among the membership of Executive Council.
Saudi Arabia has been a member of the council — the main body of the OPCW — since its inception in 1997. It’s membership is made up of 41 countries, representing five geographic areas, that are elected for terms of two years at a time.


Saudi Arabia calls for Iran to engage in talks, avoid escalation

Saudi Arabia calls for Iran to engage in talks, avoid escalation
Updated 21 April 2021

Saudi Arabia calls for Iran to engage in talks, avoid escalation

Saudi Arabia calls for Iran to engage in talks, avoid escalation

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia renewed its call for Iran to engage in ongoing negotiations in Vienna, avoid escalation and not expose the region to more tension.
This came following a council of ministers meeting, chaired by King Salman on Tuesday.

The Cabinet reiterated that it is closely following the current developments related to Iran's nuclear program, citing the emphasis of the Kingdom's call for Iran to get involved in the current negotiations, prevent escalation and desist from jeopardizing the regional security and stability to further tension. 
The Saudi government also urged the international community to reach an agreement with stronger and longer determinants that are implemented through monitoring and control measures to prevent the Iranian regime from obtaining nuclear weapons and developing the necessary capabilities.

The Cabinet also renewed condemnation of the Iran-backed Houthi terrorist militia's attempts to target civilians as well as civilian facilities in the Kingdom in a systematic and intentional manner, through using bomb laden drones and ballistic missiles.


Saudi Arabia’s virus cases surge past 1,000

Saudi Arabia’s virus cases surge past 1,000
The authority reiterated that it was continuously monitoring the safety of the vaccines available in Saudi Arabia by studying cases of side effects. (SPA)
Updated 21 April 2021

Saudi Arabia’s virus cases surge past 1,000

Saudi Arabia’s virus cases surge past 1,000
  • The ministry said 940 people recovered from the virus over the past 24 hours, meaning 390,538 people have made full recoveries

JEDDAH: The Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) on Tuesday confirmed 34 cases of blood clots or thrombosis and low platelet count among people who received the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
“The authority suggests the existence of seven possible cases of thrombosis that are related to the vaccine, due to the absence of other reasons for the appearance of clots in them,” the SFDA said in a statement.
However, the authority also said that thrombocytopenia and blood-clotting immune response associated with the AstraZeneca vaccine is yet to be confirmed in these cases.
It said based on the local reports received, the rate of occurrence of these symptoms in conjunction with the administration of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in the Kingdom is “very rare.”
The SFDA said that all approved vaccines for the coronavirus (COVID-19) being used in the Kingdom are safe. It stressed that the desired benefits of the vaccine in question outweigh the potential risks.
The authority reiterated that it was continuously monitoring the safety of the vaccines available in Saudi Arabia by studying cases of side effects along with the local and international scientific evidence and data available.

FASTFACTS

• The Kingdom reports a 55 percent increase in the number of cases among women.

• 1,070 new infections were reported on Tuesday.

The SFDA advised recipients of the vaccine to consult a doctor or go to the nearest health center if any of the following symptoms appear or continue for more than three days after receiving a vaccine: Dizziness, severe and persistent headache, nausea or vomiting, issues with vision, shortness of breath, severe pain in the chest or abdomen or coldness in the extremities, swelling of the legs, small blood spots under the skin other than the injection site.
Dr. Abdullah Asiri, an infectious diseases consultant at the Saudi Ministry of Health, allayed public fears following the reports.
“How can a wrong conclusion deduced from a generalization become the most circulated news?” he wrote on Twitter. “In short, not every blood clotting after vaccinations is due to vaccinations. Thanks to vaccines, lives are saved every day. We have not yet had confirmed cases of platelet deficiency and blood clotting immune responses associated ‘hypothetically’ with COVID-19 vaccines.”
Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly, a Ministry of Health spokesman, said: “We are still monitoring an increase in the number of COVID-19 infections, which is the highest since the beginning of this year. There has also been an increase in cases among females by 55 percent.”
The Ministry of Health reported 1,070 new confirmed cases in the Kingdom over the past 24 hours, meaning 407,010 people have now contracted the virus. Of the 9,626 active cases, 1,105 were in critical condition. There were 12 fatalities, which brought the national death toll to 6,846.
The ministry said 940 people recovered from the virus over the past 24 hours, meaning 390,538 people have made full recoveries.