Second group of Pakistani Hajj pilgrims arrive in Madinah

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Pakistani pilgrims breeze through immigration counters at Prince Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz International Airport in Madinah as part of the “Makkah Route” initiative on July 5, 2019. (SPA)
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Malaysian pilgrims are briefed on the “Makkah Route” initiative at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport while waiting for their flights to Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
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Pakistani pilgrims board their buses after coming out of the Prince Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz International Airport in Madinah on July 5, 2019. (SPA)
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Malaysian pilgrims are briefed on the “Makkah Route” initiative at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport while waiting for their flights to Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
Updated 07 July 2019

Second group of Pakistani Hajj pilgrims arrive in Madinah

  • Saudi officials received the pilgrims at the airport, and presented them with flowers, dates, sweets and Zamzam water
  • Makkah Route initiative is expected to serve more than 225,000 pilgrims this year

JEDDAH: The second flight of Pakistani pilgrims, carrying 442 pilgrims, arrived on Friday at the Prince Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz International Airport in Madinah as part of the “Makkah Route” initiative to perform Hajj this year.
Raja Ali Ejaz, Pakistan ambassador to Saudi Arabia, and Saudi officials received the pilgrims at the airport, and presented them with flowers, dates, sweets and Zamzam water.
The pilgrims expressed their gratitude to the Saudi government, which is working hard to allocate resources to help visitors perform Hajj and return to their countries safely.
Meanwhile, Malaysian pilgrims became acquainted with projects to develop the Two Holy Mosques and other spiritual rituals, on screens at Kuala Lumpur International Airport while they were waiting for their flights to the Kingdom.
This is also part of the “Makkah Route” initiative to elevate the level of services provided for pilgrims during the Hajj.
Photographs taken during previous Hajj seasons were displayed on screens on the waiting lounge at the airport, under the supervision of the initiative’s supervising committee, to inform pilgrims about the development projects in the Two Holy Mosques.
Indonesia and Bangladesh will launch the Makkah Route initiative on Sunday for the third consecutive year at Jakarta’s Soekarno Hatta International Airport and Shah Jalal International Airport in Dhaka.
The Makkah Route initiative is expected to serve more than 225,000 pilgrims passing through airports in Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Tunisia. The service includes issuing visas, ensuring compliance with health requirements, and codifying and sorting luggage at airports in the pilgrims’ own countries.


A catering firm in Saudi Arabia tackles obesity from school level

Updated 19 October 2019

A catering firm in Saudi Arabia tackles obesity from school level

  • Rihab Hasanain set up Blooming Bs to provide schoolchildren with healthy meals
  • Blooming Bs strives to raise awareness of the obesity problem in the Kingdom

CAIRO: One Saudi woman was so concerned about her children’s unhealthy school-canteen meals that she decided to improve not only her family’s diet but also the eating habits of the entire nation.

Rihab Hasanain, spurred by the Kingdom’s growing obesity epidemic, set up the catering firm Blooming Bs to provide children with healthy lunch boxes and offer them advice on the importance of eating healthy food and being active.

The company’s name originates from the three Bs: Brain, body and box. The healthy boxes are provided to students and children aged two and above at schools, canteens, childcare centers and indoor playground centers.

Saudi Arabia has the Middle East’s second-highest obesity level after Kuwait with a 35.4 percent rating,  according to the CIA World Factbook.

Hasanain said that she wants to raise awareness of the region’s obesity problem, particularly among children.

“Childhood obesity is one of the greatest challenges facing health care systems worldwide,” she said.

“A number of factors have contributed to the problem, such as lack of childhood physical activities, and a low awareness around the prevalence of obesity and non-communicable diseases.”

Hasanain said that Blooming Bs’ mission is to combat childhood obesity in Saudi Arabia and neighboring countries by promoting healthy eating habits.

Rihab Hasanain

This includes educating children and parents about the importance of healthy food and lifestyles, providing youngsters with healthy food choices, and creating a community of future healthy eaters.

In Saudi Arabia, a major contributing factor to the obesity crisis is the widespread availability of unhealthy food in school canteens, she said.

In 2016, the ambitious mother of two took matters into her own hands by establishing her commercial kitchen in the Kingdom’s capital Riyadh.

Using her personal savings, Hasanain hired a team of 10 multidisciplinary women, including public relations and administration staff, social-work specialists, early childhood educators and drivers.

She also leveraged her international connections to help secure support and endorsement from a number of prominent mentors.

“They are extraordinary individuals with an outstanding track record in social entrepreneurship, hospitality and, most importantly, health promotion and healthy school canteens,” Hasanain said.

Blooming Bs has since grown to cater to more than 20 day-care units and schools, as well as hundreds of individual families. The firm has now sold more than 45,000 items and served over 10,000 lunch meals since its launch.

Hasanain said that the company’s contracts and deliveries vary according to customer categories.

“Our products range from morning, lunch and afternoon meals for children to freshly squeezed juices and individual food items that can be sold individually at school canteens,” she said.

“We take the stress away for parents. Our clients are assured that our products are healthy because the meals are created based on the consultation of our in-house nutritionist.”

While Hasanain is well on her way to transforming the diets of children in Riyadh, she has her eye on the bigger picture.

The Blooming Bs entrepreneur also aims to solve childhood obesity in neighboring countries, such as the UAE, Kuwait and Qatar.

“During Blooming Bs’ expansion, I have tried to develop a holistic viewpoint on children’s nutrition, leading to improved operation processes and ideas,” Hasanain said.

“Blooming Bs also wants to empower Saudi and Arab women by creating more job opportunities,” she added.

“Ultimately, I see my company becoming an upscale international brand, trusted by parents, schools and governments.”

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• This report is being published by Arab News as a partner of the Middle East Exchange, which was launched by the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to reflect the vision of the UAE prime minister and ruler of Dubai to explore the possibility of changing the status of the Arab region.