Mina tent city hosts over 2 million Hajj pilgrims

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Pilgrims arrive in Mina on the first day of Hajj. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
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Hajj is meant to be a great equalizer and unifier among Muslims, with pilgrims shedding overt displays of wealth and materialism. (AN photo by Essam Al-Ghalib)
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Pilgrims pour into Mina on the first day of Hajj on Friday. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
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Pilgrims arrive in Mina on the first day of Hajj. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 10 August 2019

Mina tent city hosts over 2 million Hajj pilgrims

  • From the tent city, the pilgrims move to Mt. Arafat Saturday for a day of repentance, supplication
  • More than 1.8 million visas issued online without the need for middlemen, says government official

MINA: More than 2 million pilgrims gathered in the tent city of Mina as Hajj 2019 began on Friday. 

From Mina, the pilgrims will head to Mount Arafat early on Saturday, an area about 20 km east of Makkah. There, the pilgrims will stand shoulder to shoulder for an emotional day of repentance and supplication at the site where Prophet Muhammad delivered his final sermon, calling for equality and unity among Muslims.

“All arms of the state have been deployed (and) we are proud to serve as ‘God’s hosts’,” said security forces spokesman Bassam Attia.


“More than 1.8 million visas were delivered online without the need for middlemen. It’s a success,” said Hajj Ministry official Hatim bin Hassan Qadi.

As the lights of Mina came alive and the pilgrims began to settle in for the night, Arab News caught up with some of them to discuss their feelings about how their first day of Hajj went.

Mohammed Jameel, from Pakistan, is in Mina on his first Hajj. “It’s a pleasure and a blessing. We have been waiting our whole life for these moments. We are very satisfied so far and looking forward to the coming days. We are praying for all the Muslims in the world, especially for those experiencing troubles, our brothers and sisters in Kashmir, in Palestine, etc. We pray for all of them, and we pray for our families and our loved ones,” he said.

Rahaf Niyazi, from Saudi Arabia, is also performing Hajj for the first time. “Everything we’ve seen so far is amazing, and it’s such a blessing to be here. It’s better than I ever imagined it could be,” she told Arab News.

All arms of the state have been deployed and we are proud to serve as God’s hosts.

Bassam Attia, Saudi security forces spokesman

Despite the heat wave that swept through Mina at noon, the weather had cooled somewhat by night, giving pilgrims a much needed respite from the oppressive glare of the sun.

Security guards and Civil Defense volunteers swept through the camps during the day, sprinkling pilgrims with cool water, offering assistance to the disabled and helping pilgrims with directions. The famous sense of camaraderie that defines Hajj was alive and well in Mina, and by the looks of things, Hajj of 2019 is off to a great start.

Security guards in Mina told Arab News that this was the best organized Hajj yet, and things had vastly improved in the past few years. “A lot of the problems we had in the past have all but disappeared,” one said. “This year, Hajj is the best it has ever been. InshaAllah things will continue that way.”

Pilgrims pour into Mina on the first day of Hajj on Friday. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

One of the many unsung heroes of Hajj this year is Mohammed Saber, a volunteer physician working with a team of nurses and medical students helping worshippers on their spiritual journey. “This is a big opportunity to serve God’s guests and to serve Muslims,” Saber told Arab News. 

Hajj is meant to be a great equalizer and unifier among Muslims, with pilgrims shedding overt displays of wealth and materialism. 

All male pilgrims wear ihram (a two-piece seamless white cloth) and women don Islamic dress, forgoing makeup and perfume in an effort to draw closer to God and engage in intense worship for the five-day pilgrimage.

The US Consulate in Jeddah said some 20,000 US citizens and residents were expected to be at the pilgrimage. 

To curb the potential for a viral outbreak of any kind, Saudi Arabia this year stopped issuing visas to people from Congo, citing the Ebola outbreak there.


Hajj 2019 Day 1: Pilgrims arrive in Mina for the night ahead of the journey to mount Arafat

Hajj 2019 Day 1: More than 2 million pilgrims make their way from Makkah to Mina



Misk Initiatives Center signs 12 deals to develop youth talent

Updated 33 min 50 sec ago

Misk Initiatives Center signs 12 deals to develop youth talent

  • MoUs with top firms such as Chinese tech giant Huawei, French oil major Total open new opportunities

RIYADH: The Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Foundation Misk Initiatives Center has signed 12 memorandums of understanding (MoU) on the sidelines of the Misk Global Forum in Riyadh with local and international companies to support and develop youth talent.

Among the companies were the Chinese tech giant Huawei, the French oil firm Total, the Emirati Federal Youth Authority, and the Ministry of Economy and Planning.

The agreements stipulated joint work between the two parties in the fields of talent development in Saudi Arabia and information and communications technology, in accordance with the National Transformation Program 2020 and the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. 

This initiative aims to find ways of cooperation and employment opportunities between the two parties.

The MoU signed between the center and the Emirati Federal Youth Authority provides for the enhancement of joint cooperation in support of youth. 

The two parties will seek to discuss future cooperation, to build a strategic partnership between the two parties in exploring potential cooperative opportunities and setting a framework for such cooperation, in addition to organizing the exchange of technologies and innovations through the joint organization of courses, forums and workshops.

The MoU aims at creating a specialized scientific dialogue between the two parties, conducting joint research at the institutes in the field of entrepreneurship and the skills of the future, considering launching joint initiatives, and examining the possibilities of cooperative programs based on the extensive experience of Misk and the Federal Youth Authority.

Misk’s Initiatives Center agreement with Total will promote joint cooperation, find training opportunities for Saudi talent at the company’s headquarters and facilities, and cooperate on educational programs that support entrepreneurship and an ecosystem for startup companies, especially in the fields of energy and technology.

The Misk Global Forum also witnessed the signing of a MoU with “Hub71” to promote learning and leadership among Saudi youth, and enhance opportunities for joint collaboration, in addition to two MoUs with 500 startups and seed stars “to promote joint cooperation between the two parties, to develop and grow the business of startups and provide them with the necessary

Misk also signed a MoU with the Public Institution for Education and Global Leadership to promote joint cooperation and achieve the objectives of both sides, to support innovation initiatives that instill the entrepreneurial mindset of young people, as well as the establishment and organization of entrepreneurship approaches. 

Both parties agreed to focus on exploring potential collaborative opportunities related to the Entrepreneurship World Cup, and establish a competition with competitors coming from 170 countries.

Both parties also agreed to support international competitions aimed at identifying the best solutions in various fields and sectors, as well as exchanging programs on entrepreneurship and innovation.

The center has signed a MoU with the Saudi Industrial Development Fund to discuss the possibility of providing training programs and courses for the center’s employees of the Fund and the relevant authorities. In addition to discussing available opportunities for cooperative training within the Fund, and providing opportunities for participation and contribution of the Fund’s staff in Misk’s programs.

The MoU aims to explore the benefits of existing agreements between the two parties with international financial and educational institutions, in order to find opportunities that provide programs, training and educational courses, and granting cooperative trainings for Saudi youth in those global institutions.

The center also signed a MoU with the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), aiming to enhance joint cooperation on educational technology and its integration into the educational systems in the Islamic world.

An MoU with King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) will enhance the cooperation between the two parties in several initiatives, including academic development, training, entrepreneurship and innovation programs.

An MoU with Endeavor Saudi Arabia will support the Kingdom’s youth, enhance their talents and potential, stimulate economic growth, and find ways of cooperation between the two parties that serve their common interests.

The center’s MoU with the Ministry of Economy and Planning aims to spread awareness, provide new information on the education and training of human resources in the administrative and economic fields, youth empowerment, and coordinate efforts to raise their abilities.

The MoU aims to create cooperative training opportunities in local and international institutions with the purpose of workforce growth in the Kingdom’s economic sector, contributing to the development of national competencies in the economy, policies and procedures, strategic planning, in addition to providing job opportunities for graduates from areas that serve the interests of both parties and support the achievement of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.