Saudi King Salman to host New Zealand terror victims’ families for Hajj

Saudi Arabia will host 200 Hajj pilgrims of families of victims of the terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand on the orders of King Salman. (SPA)
Updated 18 July 2019

Saudi King Salman to host New Zealand terror victims’ families for Hajj

  • They will perform Hajj as part of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ Guest Program for Hajj and Umrah
  • New Zealand ‘humbled by support from Kingdom,’ envoy tells Arab News

JEDDAH: Relatives of victims of the Christchurch mosque terrorist attack in New Zealand will take part in the Hajj pilgrimage next month as guests of King Salman of Saudi Arabia.

The invitation to the 200 pilgrims was announced on Wednesday by Minister of Islamic Affairs Sheikh Abdullatif Al-Asheikh.

Hosting the families during the Hajj season is part of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to “confront and defeat terrorism” in all its forms, the minister said.

The 200 pilgrims will perform Hajj as part of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ Guest Program for Hajj and Umrah, and the ministry will liaise with the Saudi Embassy in New Zealand to ensure it goes smoothly.

“New Zealand has been humbled by the support we have received from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia following the Christchurch terror attack on our Muslim community,” James Munro, New Zealand’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, told Arab News.

“This includes words of support from King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the attendance at the national memorial service by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Adel Al-Jubeir, and a generous donation of $1 million to the victims’ families by Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.

“This latest act of generosity by the king is deeply appreciated by New Zealand and will be hugely meaningful to the families of those who died, and to the survivors.”

A total of 51 people died and 49 were wounded when a 28-year-old Australian white supremacist opened fire on worshippers at Al-Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch during Friday prayers on the afternoon of March 15. His trial on 51 charges of murder and 40 of attempted murder is due to begin in May 2020.

“The New Zealand government, police and media have agreed not to name the terrorist to deny him a platform, or publicity,” Munro said. “The victims will be remembered. He will not.”

Last year more that 1.75 million pilgrims from abroad performed Hajj, according to figures from the Saudi General Directorate of Passports.

The Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr. Mohammed Salih Bentin, reiterated the Kingdom’s call to pilgrims to dedicate their time to performing Hajj rituals, and to be considerate of their fellow pilgrims.

They must focus on feeling the spirituality of the journey and distance themselves from distractions, such as sectarian or political slogans, the minister said. “The Kingdom will not tolerate conduct that disturbs Hajj rituals, and the authorities will take the necessary measures to prevent them.”

An armed police officer (R) stands guard outside the Al Noor mosque, one of the mosques where some 50 people were killed by a self-avowed white supremacist gunman on March 15, 2019, in Christchurch, New Zealand. (AFP file photo)


Riyadh Season Boulevard zone opens with spectacular parade

Updated 18 October 2019

Riyadh Season Boulevard zone opens with spectacular parade

  • The Riyadh parade is thought to be the biggest parade in Kingdom to date

RIYADH: More than 1,500 performers and 25 floats took part in a parade and carnival on Thursday night that officially launched Riyadh Season’s Boulevard zone. The crowds that gathered for the fun-packed event were also treated to motorcycle displays, fireworks and other surprises.

The Boulevard lit up at 9 p.m. for the start of the 90-minute event, which featured some of the international artists who will perform as part of Riyadh Season. Afterwards, the zone’s food and drink outlets, outdoor cinema and fountain shows officially opened.

The audience watched the parade, performances and displays from specially constructed stands. Food trucks offered a selection of tasty snacks, and organizers also provided prayer rooms, toilets, first-aid stations and other facilities.

In addition to the opening-night festivities, the Boulevard zone, which covers 400,000 square meters, will host a wide range of entertainment options and activities for all ages, including the outdoor cinema, restaurants, and sports, music and theatrical events. It has three main venues: The 22,000-seat Mohammed Abdu Theater, the 6,000-seat Abu Bakr Salem Theater, and the 2,000-seat Baker Al-Sheddi Theater.

The parade is just one of more than 100 events featuring local, regional and international performers taking place during the Riyadh Season festival, which continues until mid-December at 12 zones across the city: the Boulevard; the Front; Riyadh Car Show; Winter Wonderland; Riyadh Stadiums; the Diplomatic Quarter; Al-Muraba’a; Al-Malaz; Wadi Namar; Nabd Al-Riyadh; Riyadh Safari; and Riyadh Sahara. It has been organized with the support of Turki Al-Sheikh, chairman of the General Entertainment Authority and president of Riyadh Season

The ambitious 2019 Saudi Seasons initiative, the first of its kind in the region, was launched in February and includes 11 local seasons covering most parts of the Kingdom. Designed to promote the fledgling Saudi entertainment sector and boost tourism, it is attracting some of the biggest names in world entertainment.

The Riyadh parade is thought to be the biggest parade in Kingdom to date. It follows a folklore parade at the Mawtni (My Nation) cultural event in Yanbu to mark Saudi National Day this year, and a parade during the Jeddah Season festivities in the city’s Obhur district.