Makkah governor kicks off preparations for next pilgrimage season
The meeting reviewed statistics on the number of pilgrims leaving the Kingdom through all ports, which has reached 207,000 out of more than 1,760,486 (until Tuesday morning), or about 11.8 percent of all pilgrims
JEDDAH: Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, governor of Makkah and chairman of the Central Hajj Committee, has agreed to hold the Hajj workshop in late Muharram in preparation for the next pilgrimage season in 1440 AH.
This came during a meeting of the committee in Makkah governorate office on Tuesday, which discussed the pros and cons of the pilgrimage season this year and preparations for Hajj next year.
The meeting reviewed statistics on the number of pilgrims leaving the Kingdom through all ports, which has reached 207,000 out of more than 1,760,486 (until Tuesday morning), or about 11.8 percent of all pilgrims.
The committee’s meeting also highlighted the positive aspects observed during the pilgrimage season this year, including the financial and human resources dedicated to the service of pilgrims, as well as the high level of coordination among all actors and improving the level of performance.
The pros also included a decrease in the number of infiltrators in the holy sites, which reflected better on the services provided and the smooth movement of vehicles and pedestrians and crowds. It also reflected well on the absence of Hajj accidents, epidemics and infectious diseases and the provision of full services such as water, electricity and nutrition in Makkah and the holy sites and lack of complaints in this regard.
The current Hajj season was also characterized by the smooth transportation of pilgrims and providing security for them, as well as the readiness of pilgrims’ housing sites in the holy sites, and the success of exercises during the Hajj season in preparation for an emergency.
The pros also included the development and establishment of special isolation rooms for patients in hospitals of the holy sites, and provision of health services to more than 330,000 pilgrims in Makkah and the holy sites. The number of Civil Defense volunteers also increased from 813 to 1,485.
The reception procedures at King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah were reduced and the capacity of the arrival phase at the airport was set to 45,000 pilgrims per day.
Residents of some Makkah neighborhoods faced difficulties reaching their homes and some health centers in the holy capital were not operational around the clock. A need to increase the number of bathrooms in the holy sites was also noted, as well as the lack of sufficient guidance signs in Makkah and the holy sites.
Meet the Saudi volunteers saving lives across the Gulf
The Barq Rescue Team are the people to call if you are stranded in the outdoors
Updated 5 min 36 sec ago
RIYADH: With camping season in full swing across the Kingdom many Saudi families are taking the opportunity to engage in fun COVID-friendly activities.
Desert camping (or kashtas, as they’re colloquially known), hiking trips, and other outdoorsy activities are taking place all over the country.
However, due to the nature of these activities, the likelihood of accidents tends to increase, especially among first-timers or otherwise inexperienced outdoorsmen.
Fortunately, a group of dedicated volunteers is working tirelessly to ensure the safety of the Kingdom’s budding outdoor enthusiasts, allowing virtually anyone to dabble in those types of activities without fear.
Founded in 2017, the Barq (Arabic for “lightning”) Rescue Team is Saudi Arabia’s first accredited volunteer rescue team. Certified by the Saudi Civil Defense and the Ministry of Interior, the group is a member of both the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation and the UN’s International Association for Voluntary Efforts.
Barq’s team leader, Talal Abdulghani, told Arab News that the team started off as an unofficial group of four-wheel drive vehicle owners who saw an opportunity to utilize their equipment for the greater good.
“We first had the idea to create the team during the 2017 flooding in Jeddah,” Abdulghani said. “Those of us with suitable cars that were fitted with off-roading equipment found ourselves able to help out, and we decided to make it an official team.”
What started off as a small group of volunteers quickly gained traction. Today, Barq has more than 950 volunteers spread out across the Kingdom, with members assisting stranded drivers all over the Gulf countries. And at least 120 of those members are women.
• Founded in 2017, the Barq Rescue Team is Saudi Arabia’s first accredited volunteer rescue team.
• Certified by the Saudi Civil Defense and the Ministry of Interior, the group is a member of both the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation and the UN’s International Association for Voluntary Efforts.
“Every member of the team joined us out of passion and the desire to help others,” Abdulghani said, “We’re not getting paid, nor do we charge for our services, and all of us have day jobs. We volunteer out of a sense of duty to our country and community.”
Abdulghani told Arab News that one or two deaths tend to occur every month out in the desert, especially in remote locations or due to a lack of experience. Anyone stranded in the desert can call the 24-hour hotline to receive assistance from one of their team members, who will arrive on the site to help if they need to or can offer help over the phone or via WhatsApp.
“Considering the number of calls we get every day, sometimes we find it better to try to assist over the phone instead of heading to a location ourselves,” said Abdulghani. “That way, instead of just showing up and taking over, we give people a chance to learn from their mistakes with our guidance and prevent similar incidents in the future.”
However, Barq’s team is not only comprised of drivers; Abdulghani says that anyone can join up, provided they have something to offer.
“We have members who are doctors and paramedics, who can offer first aid in case we need to rescue someone who is injured, and mechanics who are able to fix cars that have broken down or stalled, or been damaged. We also have photographers, lawyers and so on,” he said.
Abdulghani said an interesting side effect of their work was that many of those rescued have been inspired to join the team themselves.
One of those people is Samaher Al-Qwasmi, who said: “I was taking a trip with my mother and brother to Khaleej Salman beach, and I ended up driving a little too close to the water. Eventually, I found myself stuck because it was so muddy, and I could feel the car sinking down into the mud,” she said.
Not knowing what to do, and with poor phone service, she contacted her uncle, who directed her to call Barq.
“They asked me a lot of questions about how many people we were, what our location was, whether or not we had food, and so on. They were very thorough about making sure we were safe, and that in turn made me feel safer,” she said.
The team maintained contact until they were able to send someone to rescue them, sending four cars to help pull her vehicle out of the mud. Their efforts are something Al-Qwasmi appreciates so much more now that she has an idea of exactly how much work a rescue operation entails.
“There are so many people in the same situation at the same time. Just looking at our WhatsApp group now, there are 10 or more cases a day, and some rescues may require a lot of work,” she said.
“I joined because it’s something nice to do for the community. It feels good to give back, to be able to do good but also to help people become more aware of the existence of teams like ours,” she said. “We’re like one family; I don’t think anyone is doing this for the sake of the money or anything like that. Apart from the rescues, we also have events where we get together as a team and just hang out.”
Apart from their rescue operations, Barq also does community service work. Last May, Barq launched a campaign to distribute food and other essential items to quarantine sites across the Makkah region and the Eastern Province, helping residents stuck at home while also helping to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Barq provides rescue and safety training to all its recruits, including basic first aid, in addition to the several awareness campaigns they provide to the public on a regular basis.
Those interested in joining up as volunteers can register on the team’s website, https://barqrescue.org/
Promo released for joint Saudi-Japanese anime ‘The Journey’
A number of famous Arab actors have taken part in the Arabic version of the movie, including Nassar Al-Nassar, Abdo Chahine and Rasha Rizk
Updated 17 min 1 sec ago
JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Manga Productions has launched a promotional video for the first joint Saudi-Japanese anime film “The Journey.”
Film buffs will enjoy a unique multi-sensory experience through 4DX technology, which simulates the effects and conditions seen on screen.
The launch of the promotional video comes ahead of the renowned Berlin International Film Festival beginning March 1.
The promotional video will be featured on the social media platforms of Manga Production and Vox Cinemas.
“The Journey,” which is in pre-production, will be available in summer this year in cinemas in the Middle East and North Africa, and will be distributed in Japan by T-Joy Company.
CEO of Manga Productions Dr. Essam Bukhari said the film is directed and produced by a specialized team of Japanese experts and Saudi talents.
“The video will be featured in the region and worldwide to export our Saudi culture and historical stories from the Arabian Peninsula,” he added. “This will be the first of a number of videos that will be produced by Manga Productions and will be featured in cinemas in the Middle East and the world.”
• Launch comes ahead of Berlin International Film Festival on March 1.
• The promotional video will be featured on the social media platforms of Manga Production and Vox Cinemas.
Inspired by the history of the Arabian Peninsula and the ancient civilizations of the region, “The Journey” tells the story of Aws, a potter with a mysterious past who indulged in an epic battle in defense of his city.
It is a joint production with famous Japanese studio Toei Animation, and is directed by renowned international director Kobun Shizuno, who has directed anime hits including “Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle” and “Detective Conan.”
Manga Productions was keen to recruit well-known Japanese voice actors, such as Hiroshi Kamiya, Takaya Kuroda, Toru Furuya and others.
A number of famous Arab actors have taken part in the Arabic version of the movie, including Nassar Al-Nassar, Abdo Chahine and Rasha Rizk.
Manga Productions is a subsidiary of the Mohammed bin Salman Foundation, and is specialized in producing creative content through animations, video games and comics that target various social groups, both locally and internationally.
Who’s Who: Husameddin Al-Madani, CEO of Soudah Development Company
Updated 23 min 43 sec ago
Usameddin Al-Madani is CEO of Soudah Development Company (SDC), a closed joint stock company wholly owned by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia.
With extensive experience in the public and private sectors, Al-Madani has significantly contributed to the development and advancement of the socioeconomic plans laid out in the Saudi Vision 2030.
Al-Madani is also a board member of several real estate projects being carried out under the PIF.
Prior to joining SDC, Al-Madani was a member of the G20 Saudi Secretariat executive leadership team, where he led the strategy development and execution of the international conferences designed to support the G20 Saudi presidency.
In 2015, he was appointed founding director-general of the National Center for Performance Measurement in Saudi Arabia.
He played a crucial role in the establishment and implementation of a performance measurement framework in the Kingdom.
From 2004 to 2011, Al-Madani held various technical and managerial positions at Saudi Aramco. During his tenure with the world’s top oil company, he participated in the development of its performance measurement and management platform and contributed to the restructuring of the company’s research and development strategy as a member of the corporate committee.
Al-Madani obtained a bachelor’s degree in computer science at the University of Kansas and a master’s degree in petroleum engineering/ unconventional gas resources at Texas A&M University.
He is a recipient of the 2010 Texas A&M Montgomery Prize and the International SPE Young Member Outstanding Service Award. Al-Madani also completed a general management program in strategy, business and leadership with Harvard Business School in 2016.
Kingdom has provided support and assistance to millions of people in need
Saudi Arabia ranks among the top donor countries in providing humanitarian aid
Updated 57 min 10 sec ago
NEW YORK: Saudi Arabia on Monday pledged $430 million toward the UN’s response to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.
Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, supervisor general of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief), made the announcement during a virtual pledging conference co-hosted by Sweden and Switzerland.
“Because of its keenness to alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people, I am pleased to announce that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has pledged $430 million to support the Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan 2021, to be implemented through UN agencies, international organizations, and local and regional NGOs,” Al-Rabeeah told the conference.
He said the Kingdom has provided support and assistance to millions of people in need and shares the goal of reducing the effects of the humanitarian crisis.
He added that Saudi Arabia ranks among the top donor countries in providing humanitarian aid regionally and internationally, particularly in Yemen.
“We are meeting today amidst the ongoing humanitarian crisis Yemen has already been facing, along with all the additional economic, health and political challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has created there,” he said.
Al-Rabeeah said the Iran-backed Houthi militia had caused a major escalation of the crisis with a recent offensive in Marib governorate, which was a safe haven for internally displaced persons.
“The Houthi militia has also scaled up their terrorist actions to threaten neighboring countries,” Al-Rabeeah said.
He was referring to the increase in cross border attacks targeting civilian areas in Saudi Arabia.
“This requires a firm and resolute stand from the international community to protect the Yemeni people and to reach sustainable solutions that achieve security, stability and development for Yemen, and ultimately for the region and the world,” Al-Rabeeah said.
A total of $1.7 billion was pledged during the conference, out of $3.85 that the UN had appealed for.