Private sector’s role in improving Hajj, Umrah services highlighted in Jeddah forum

The modern facilities will enable pilgrims to complete their Hajj and Umrah rituals more easily. (SPA/File)
Updated 28 November 2018

Private sector’s role in improving Hajj, Umrah services highlighted in Jeddah forum

  • Makkah Mayor Mohammad Al-Quwahess reveals "to fully embrace technology and convert Makkah to a smart city"

JEDDAH: The role of entrepreneurs and emerging companies in regional economies and in the Hajj and Umrah sector was discussed during the opening day of Saudi Forum for Emerging Companies. 

The event, at the Ritz-Carlton in Jeddah, was organized by the Small and Medium Enterprises General Authority (Monsha’at) under the title “Emerging companies and their role in the regional economy... the model of emerging entrepreneurial companies in the Hajj and Umrah sector.”

Dr. Mohammed Salih Bentin, minister of Hajj and Umrah, said in his opening remarks that he hopes that the modern facilities being developed for pilgrims will enable them to complete their Hajj and Umrah rituals more easily using smart devices, and that the quality of the services on offer will be exemplary. 

He noted that there will be no complacency in ensuring the highest standards of hygiene or in other related areas.

“The enrichment of the Hajj and Umrah experience with historic and entertainment sites is an important goal that we seek to achieve through the unique efforts of entrepreneurs,” he added. “We are waiting for them and welcome all their ideas and suggestions.”

Saleh Al-Rasheed, governor of Monsha’at, said that the role of the authority is to create “a suitable environment for entrepreneurship. We work with (entrepreneurs) hand in hand and hope that the emerging projects have distinctive ideas in the service of pilgrims.”

Ultimately, he added, the market will be the judge of the success of these ideas and projects, and Monsha’at supports and protects entrepreneurs throughout the process.

Makkah Mayor Mohammad Al-Quwahess said that the aim is to fully embrace technology and convert Makkah to a smart city, and that it is important to think outside the box when planning and hosting the pilgrimage season.

Amer Al-Qahtani, deputy director for research and innovation at Elm Information Security, stressed the importance of creating a nurturing environment in which to address the ideas and challenges relating to the Hajj and Umrah sector, with the aim of building and developing technical solutions. 

Ahmed Al-Thenayan, deputy minister for technology industry and digital capacities, announced that a campaign will soon be launched, in cooperation with Monsha’at, to support and develop the Hajj sector.

Nawaf Al-Sahaf, CEO of Badir Program, an organization that helps to support and develop technology-based business ideas, said that non-Saudis should be given a chance to participate in the Hajj and Umrah programs because they offer a different perspective.

Attacks on oil facilities in Kingdom threaten world economy: Saudi energy minister

Updated 15 September 2019

Attacks on oil facilities in Kingdom threaten world economy: Saudi energy minister

  • Saudi Aramco says no staff have been injured in attacks
  • The oil giant is working on restoring the lost quantities

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s energy minister said drones that attacked Saudi Aramco installations had caused an interruption of an estimated 5.7 million barrels in crude supplies and threaten the world economy.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said as a result of the terrorist acts, oil production in Abqaiq and Khurais was knocked out temporarily and that estimates show that 50 percent of the company’s production had been interrupted.

Part of the decrease will be compensated to clients through reserves, Prince Abdulaziz said in a statement carried on the Saudi Press Agency.

The newly appointed minister confirmed there were no injuries to staff at the locations targeted, adding that the company is still assessing the resulting damage.

The attacks not only target the Kingdom’s vital installations, but also target the international oil supply and threaten its security, he said, and are a threat to the world economy. 

The blasts took place at 3:31am and 3:42am at the two locations, both in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, causing fires that were brought under control by emergency services.

The drone attacks, at the world’s largest oil processing plant at Abqaiq and at an oilfield in Khurais, highlight the importance of the international community to protect energy supply against “all terrorist sides that carry out, support and finance such cowardly disruptive acts,” the statement said.

He said that these blasts also knocked out the production of 2bn cubic feet of associated gas daily, used to produce 700,000 barrels of natural gas liquids, which will lead to an approximate 50 percent decrease of Ethane and natural gas liquids supply.

The statement said the company is currently working on restoring the lost quantities, and will present updated information within the next 48 hours.

World leaders condemned the attacks on Saudi Arabia on Saturday and those behind the terrorist acts. 

Donald Trump called Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to reassert his country's “readiness to cooperate with the Kingdom, by all means conducive to maintain its security and stability.”

The Crown Prince "underscored the Kingdom’s willingness and strength to thwart such a terrorist aggression and deal with its consequences,” SPA reported on Saturday.

The UAE said it “condemns this act of terrorism and sabotage and considers it as a new evidence of the terrorist groups’ attempts to undermine the security and stability of the region as a whole.”

“The Houthis must stop undermining Saudi Arabia’s security by threatening civilian areas and commercial infrastructure,” said the British government.

“The US strongly condemns today’s drone attacks. These attacks against critical infrastructure endanger civilians, are unacceptable, and sooner or later will result in innocent lives being lost,” said the US envoy in Riyadh John Abizaid.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was emphatic about the need to condemn Iranian aggression, specifically on Saudi Arabia, and the need to ensure the security of world energy supplies.

“Tehran is behind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia while Rouhani and Zarif pretend to engage in diplomacy. Amid all the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply. There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen,” he tweeted, “We call on all nations to publicly and unequivocally condemn Iran’s attacks. The United States will work with our partners and allies to ensure that energy markets remain well supplied and Iran is held accountable for its aggression”

The Houthis, who are backed by Iran, said they had carried out the attacks and that 10 drones had been used.