Holy Kaaba in Makkah gets a new cover; 160 workers carry out elaborate task

The Kiswa’s fabric is produced in the form of large pieces, each 10 centimeters wide and 14 meters long. Each side of the Kaaba is constructed individually according to the width of each side. (SPA)
Updated 11 August 2019

Holy Kaaba in Makkah gets a new cover; 160 workers carry out elaborate task

  • 670 kilograms of pure silk, 120 kilograms of gold thread and 100 kilograms of silver thread were used

MAKKAH: The ceremony to replace the old Kiswa (cover) of the holy Kaaba was held on Saturday, involving 160 technicians and craftsmen. Every year, the black silk that covers the Kaaba is replaced on the ninth day of the Islamic month of Dhul Hijjah.
The ceremony was held under the supervision of Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, the chief of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques.
The change occurs when pilgrims head to Mount Arafat to witness a key ritual during the pilgrimage.
Ahmed bin Mohammed Al-Mansouri, deputy head of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques and director general of the King Abdul Aziz Complex for the Kaaba, said that the holy Kaaba was donned with a new Kiswa, constituted of four sides and a sitar (curtain) for the door.

Dimensions
The Kiswa’s fabric is produced in the form of large pieces, each 10 centimeters wide and 14 meters long.
Each of the four parts of the Kiswa were separately raised, in preparation for stretching it on the old side. The side was consolidated from above by tying it and dropping at the other end after the old side’s ropes were untied by moving the new side up and down.
Then, the old side was removed from the bottom and the new side remained, and the process was repeated four times for each section until the operation was complete and the belt was sewn in a line, straight with the four sides.

HIGHLIGHT

• Every year, the old black silk cloth that covers the Kaaba is removed and a new one is draped on the ninth day of the Islamic month of Dhul Hijjah.

• The move occurs when pilgrims head to Mount Arafat to witness a key ritual during pilgrimage. The older Kiswa is removed and replaced with a new one.

Al-Mansouri said: “The process began from the side of the Hateem (a semi-circular wall opposite the northwest wall of the Kaaba), because Al-Mizab (a rainwater spout made of gold) requires a special opening at the top. After consolidating all the sides, the corners were fixed by sewing them from the top of the cloth to the bottom.
The cover includes a curtain of Kaaba’s door. Called a burqa, or veil, the curtain is made of silk, and is six-and-a-half-meters high and three-and-a-half-meters wide, with Qur’anic verses decorated with Islamic motifs that are embossed and covered with gold-plated silver thread. This special thread comes from Germany.

5G

Pilgrims can connect to the high-speed network via Wi-Fi at a number of locations at the holy sites.

Then, the curtain that required more time and hard work was installed by making a small opening with an approximate width of 3 meters. Three other holes were made in the black cloth to put the curtain in place under the cloth, and the sides were sewn in the black cloth of the dress.”
The Kiswa consists of five pieces of cloth, each covering the Kaaba on four sides and the fifth is the burqa. All these pieces are connected to each other.

Natural silk
Al-Mansouri said the Kiswa is embellished with inscriptions woven in black fabric threads, holding specific verses from the Holy Qur’an.
The Kiswa is made of over 670 kilograms of raw silk, dyed black inside the complex, 120 kilograms of gold threads and 100 kilograms of silver threads.
The cost of the Kiswa is approximately SR22 million ($5.8 million).

Kiswa factory
The Kiswa factory was built when King Abdul Aziz Al-Saud established a separate house for the manufacturing of the Kaaba cloth in 1927.
The factory was renovated and modernized in 1976 and equipped with latest machines for preparing the fabric, though it retained the method of manual production because of its high artistic value.
The factory continues to keep pace with the development, and preserve the ancient handmade heritage to produce the best Kiswa each year.
About 200 craftsmen and administrators, all trained and qualified Saudi nationals, are engaged in producing the majestic black cover at the King Abdul Aziz Complex for Holy Kaaba Kiswa. The process includes dyeing, manual and automatic weaving, printing and manufacturing the Hizam.
The complex includes the world’s biggest weaving machine, which is about 16 meters long.

Service to Islam
Al-Sudais delivered a speech, praising the leadership of Saudi Arabia for putting the service of the holy Kaaba, the holy sites and the pilgrims at the top of its priorities.
He said that the Kingdom’s drive to serve the Two Holy Mosques began in the era of late King Abdul Aziz, and continued with his sons’ determination to serve visitors and pilgrims, which has endured into the prosperous era of King Salman.  
Al-Sudais added that the Two Holy Mosques’ achievements, generous services, facilities and giant projects will reflect the distinguished efforts of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during this great season.
He asked God to protect and preserve King Salman, the crown prince, the Makkah governor, the head of the Hajj central committee and the Madinah governor for their great efforts in the service of pilgrims.


Rural tourism recovers after months of forced isolation

Updated 10 July 2020

Rural tourism recovers after months of forced isolation

  • Saudis turn to domestic traveling and flock to their nation’s cooler cities and rural areas

TAIF: As Saudi citizens turn to domestic tourism in the country’s summer resorts, adapting to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, rural areas have become targeted by local tourists wishing to get away from the soaring temperatures in most of the Kingdom’s cities.

Visitors are now choosing cold Saudi cities instead of Europe, which they are accustomed to visiting, such as Taif, Al-Baha, and Abha.

COVID-19 has postponed all plans to travel abroad, and attention has now focused on domestic tourism amid strict health protocols in parks, gardens and recreational areas.

Walid Al-Hamidi, vice president of the Tourism Development Council, confirmed to Arab News that Asir, with its facilities and attractions, was ready to receive summer visitors from across the country.

He said that under the directives of Asir's governor, who supervises all activities and events directly and constantly, many committees had been formed to prepare a successful summer tourism season, to optimize the opportunity and allow people to enjoy the exceptional ambiance of Asir.

“A comprehensive tourism plan was set up two years ago, which resulted in a successful Al-Soudah Season with the support of Asir’s Investment Authority,” Al-Hamidi added.

He noted that Asir’s directives aimed this year to build an exceptional tourism model that meets optimal health standards in dealing with COVID-19.

The model is supported by the “Nashama Asir” team — consisting of 4,000 volunteers — who have been trained for months and have all the necessary skills to make the season successful. Their work will continue until the end of the pandemic and throughout the summer.

“Everyone is ready at public facilities, gardens and parks, to serve tourists,” he said, adding “tourists coming from all the over the Kingdom will be welcomed with smiles, enhanced services, and warm welcomes.”

Dr. Sami Al-Obaidi, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Taif, told Arab News that the tourism sector was the economic backbone of any country or city.

He said that Taif was considered one of the most important tourist cities, given its many attractions  that made it top of any list of places to visit in the Kingdom.

“Suspending travel abroad, and limiting tourism … due to the coronavirus pandemic, makes us, as officials and citizens in Taif, well placed for a beautiful and safe tourism season for Taif’s citizens and visitors,” said Al-Obaidi.

“Meetings are held around the clock, headed by Saad Al-Maimouni, the governor of Taif, with the participation of the relevant authorities.”

He expected all sectors, especially tourism, hospitality and a few other businesses in Taif, to recover to some extent during this season, especially now tourists have already started flocking to the region, with numbers set to increase over the coming weeks.