Saudi Ministry shifts into high gear for Umrah season

The initiative was part of Saudi’s Vision 2030 which aims to attract 30 million Umrah pilgrims in the next few years. (File/AFP)
Updated 16 September 2018

Saudi Ministry shifts into high gear for Umrah season

  • Launches weekly indicator to improve services provided to pilgrims
  • Nearly 20,000 have already been issued visa

JEDDAH: To facilitate the nearly 8.5 million people visiting Saudi Arabia for Umrah this year, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah on Saturday launched a weekly indicator whereby authorities can track the number of pilgrims coming into the Kingdom, and in turn enrich their experiences by providing high-quality services.
Abdulaziz Wazzan, the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah for Umrah Affairs, said that the initiative was part of Saudi’s Vision 2030 which aims to attract 30 million Umrah pilgrims in the next few years. He added that the ministry was working in coordination with all sectors and preparations were in place to welcome the expected footfall of 8.5 million pilgrims this year.
He said that with the weekly data, they hope to have access to information such as the number of visas issued, footfall of pilgrims visiting the Kingdom via air, land or sea and how many would be in Makkah and Madinah.
As per statistics provided by the ministry, nearly 20,000 pilgrims have already been issued a visa this year, with the number increasing with each passing day. The number of pilgrims – both male and female – stands at 626 thus far, with 596 flying into the Kingdom and 30 using the land entry point. No pilgrims have entered via sea. Pilgrims from Pakistan and India led the list of visitors to the Kingdom, followed by those from Sri Lanka, Jordan and Kuwait. Of these, there are currently 535 pilgrims in Makkah and 81 in Madinah.


Culture documentation by Saudi ministry to help dispel misconceptions

Updated 22 October 2020

Culture documentation by Saudi ministry to help dispel misconceptions

  • Dia hopes the documenting process will be done professionally and without bias

JEDDAH: Saudi artists welcomed the Ministry of Culture’s first-of-its-kind 16/13 initiative, documenting the diversity of Saudi culture and art through a visual library.
The library will display 16 aspects of culture and heritage through photography and videography that represent the 13 regions of the Kingdom.
Researchers will go around Saudi Arabia to meet creatives, and study their work, for inclusion in the initiative.
“This is an important step for the Kingdom, and it’s a global one to document visual art, whether works of art or cinema,” Dia Aziz Dia, Saudi artist and sculptor, told Arab News.
He added: “It’s important because this creates a database and can be used as a reference to study and compare paintings, photography, sculpting and various types of art, how they differ from one region to the next.”
It could also let government bodies discover art worthy of being put into museums for display, said Dia.
“It’s a good way to document history as well, and to study works of art and the standards of art here,” he said. “It’s on a global level and it’s done everywhere in the world, from England to the US.”
Dia hopes the documenting process will be done professionally and without bias.
He also said it was not easy to compile these works. “It’s an elaborate process to be able to get hold of all the works across the Kingdom. It’s an operation that requires organization, extensive studying and the cooperation of the Society of Culture and Arts and artists as well.”
Saad Tahaitah, documentary filmmaker and photographer, told Arab News that the initiative was promising. He was exposed to it through Saudi photographer Nawaf Al-Shehri, who has been traveling to help with the documentation process.
“The ministry’s been doing an incredible job; they’re (Nawaf and his team) going around the Kingdom and filming content for an actual library,” he said.
Tahaitah has worked on numerous short films on his own to depict the culture and heritage of Asir region, in the southwest of the country. He said he would not trade it for any other place and wished only to film in his hometown.
“I got into documentaries because I wanted honest storytelling. I didn’t want to write a script and hire actors, although that works for some,” he said. “The way I’ve been doing film is to let the person I’m filming go about their day and I let my camera roll.”
Tahaitah started documenting Asir because he wanted to dispel the misconceptions about it, and the stereotypes created through media like “Tash Ma Tash,” the famous Saudi comedy show.
“Asir is full of natural beauty and scenery to capture. It’s diverse in its sights and the people who live in it. Every once in a while, I realize there’s a thing I never noticed before and I film it, and I’ve lived here all my life. The way of life here, simply, can inspire you,” he said.
He added: “We don’t have one particular dance or only sit and dine in a huddle. In a way, I just wanted to showcase the reality of Asir because I love it.”
He said that this initiative could correct inaccuracies shared about certain areas in the Kingdom.