Saudi ‘White Vests’ set out to help pilgrims

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Video grab of White Vests volunteers in action.
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Video grab of White Vests volunteers in action.
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Video grab of White Vests volunteers in action.
Updated 12 August 2019

Saudi ‘White Vests’ set out to help pilgrims

  •  "White Vests" is an umbrella organization of volunteer groups, organized by the Saudi Ministry of Labor and Social Development

JEDDAH: A Saudi youth tradition of volunteering to help Hajj pilgrims complete their journey has been strengthened this year through a special government initiative. 

The White Vests, an umbrella group covering a range of volunteering sectors, was organized by the Saudi Ministry of Labor and Social Development.

Many volunteer groups play a crucial role in helping pilgrims, offering medical assistance, safety advice and general guidance.

The Saudi Arabian Boy Scouts Association joined forces with the White Vests this year, complementing the efforts of government entities involved in Hajj season, such as the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, the Ministry of Health and the Muslim World League. 

The Twitter account @SaudiNVG has gained over 20,000 followers since joining the platform in January with a message for volunteers from around the Kingdom. 

In a video posted by @SaudiNVG, orthopaedic surgeon and consultant Dr. Mohammed Abu-Nawas, a White Vests Hajj volunteer, said: “In Makkah, we are all servants to the guests of Allah, and we learn from them, and communicate with them with the right Islamic way of thinking. And we build with them a cultural bridge through technology.”

Boy scout Essam Al-Shaman, 20, a student at the University of Tabuk, has been a Hajj volunteer for seven years. 

“I volunteered for the Ministry of Education for five years, and this is my second year volunteering with the university,” he told Arab News.

“I enjoy volunteering because of all the kind prayers I receive from pilgrims. It is a humanitarian service. I would like to pursue what I grew up doing and I hope to reach the level of scout commander — and hopefully I will continue to volunteer to help pilgrims every year,” he said.




Worshippers flock to reopened Prophet’s Mosque for Friday prayers

Updated 06 June 2020

Worshippers flock to reopened Prophet’s Mosque for Friday prayers

MADINAH: Hundreds of thousands of worshippers attended the first Friday prayers to be held at the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah since the gatherings were suspended to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.

The green light for the resumption of the prayer meetings came as part of a plan to gradually reopen the Kingdom’s mosques while ensuring worshippers and visitors adhered to preventive measures.

A ban on access to the Rawdah remained in place and only groups of worshippers numbering up to a maximum of 40 percent of the mosque’s capacity were being allowed entry.

Precautionary measures also included the allocation of specific doors for the entry of worshippers, the installation of thermal cameras, removal of all carpets so that prayers could be performed on the marble, sanitization of the mosque’s floors and courtyards, periodic opening of domes and canopies to ventilate the mosque, and the removal of Zamzam water containers.

The Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah will be closed after evening prayers and reopened one hour before dawn prayers. Parking lots will operate at 50 percent capacity and a media awareness campaign has been launched to highlight safety procedures at the holy site.

Medical teams have also been stationed at the main entrances to the mosque in cooperation with the Ministry of Health.

Elsewhere in the Kingdom, worshippers also flocked to perform Friday prayers at mosques amid strict health measures.

On May 31, Saudi authorities reopened all mosques for prayers, except in Makkah, as part of the Kingdom’s plan for a gradual return to normal life.

Last week the minister of Islamic affairs, dawah and guidance said that the country’s mosques were ready to welcome back worshippers, following his field trips to check that necessary preparations had been made.

All worshippers must still maintain a distance of 2 meters between rows, wear masks to enter a mosque, and Friday sermons and prayers have been limited to a maximum of 15 minutes.