Families of Palestinian martyrs given royal Hajj award hit by rise in travel fees

This aerial photo from a helicopter shows Muslim pilgrims circumambulate the Kaaba, the cubic building at the Grand Mosque, durning the hajj pilgrimage in the Muslim holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Monday, Aug. 12, 2019. (AP)
Updated 15 August 2019
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Families of Palestinian martyrs given royal Hajj award hit by rise in travel fees

  • Talib: If it were not for this offer, we would not have been able to perform Hajj because of the high fees and financial costs for the Palestinian pilgrims, and the deteriorating economic and humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip
  • Al-Barawi praised the Kingdom’s role as the biggest supporter of the Palestinian cause and the relatives of martyrs

GAZA CITY: For Mohammed Talib and his mother, their dream of performing Hajj has become a reality, thanks to the generosity of Saudi Arabia’s leadership.
After years of waiting, the pair were selected for the pilgrimage as part of King Salman’s hosting of 1,000 families of Palestinian martyrs.
Talib, whose father Adnan was killed in an Israeli air strike in 2006 while driving an ambulance, said: “If it were not for this offer, we would not have been able to perform Hajj because of the high fees and financial costs for the Palestinian pilgrims, and the deteriorating economic and humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip.”
The initiative began in 2001, with the goal of allowing thousands of pilgrims to perform Hajj, annually divided between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Suspended in 2006 and revived again in 2008, the selection process of the martyrs’ families is based on seniority covering those killed after the Al-Aqsa Intifada. Since 2011 a total of 1,000 pilgrims a year have benefitted from the royal award.
However, even when selected, some relatives still struggle to pay the 800 Jordanian dinars (SR4,230) per person demanded by the Palestinian authorities toward trip costs. The Ministry of Awqaf and Religious Affairs raised the fees for ordinary pilgrims this year to about JOD2,790, up more than 300 dinars from last season, which sparked a wave of anger among pilgrims.
Agricultural worker Nabil Turbani suggested that the Palestinian authorities should exempt struggling families from having to pay the fees. He said a lack of employment opportunities meant he and his family had to live on social welfare assistance.
Secretary-general of the national committee for the martyrs’ families in Gaza, Maher Badawi, said there was controversy surrounding Hajj fees not only for regular pilgrims but those specially selected by Saudi Arabia.
He said most martyrs’ families suffered under difficult economic and living conditions, and some had decided not to perform Hajj because of the restrictive travel costs between Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Spokesman for the national committee of the martyrs’ families, Alaa Al-Barawi, said that each of the 1,000 people selected could travel with another family member. He added that Gaza granted 20 places to people living in Egypt, and the West Bank gave some of its share to the families of martyrs in Jordan and Lebanon.
He said this year’s quota reflected the high number of loses in Gaza and the West Bank due to Israeli attacks in recent years. In 2009, Saudi Arabia increased to 4,000 the number of beneficiaries of the honor of the Palestinian martyrs’ families because of the casualties of war.
Al-Barawi praised the Kingdom’s role as the biggest supporter of the Palestinian cause and the relatives of martyrs.


KSRelief chief presented with 2019 moderation award

Updated 19 September 2019

KSRelief chief presented with 2019 moderation award

MAKKAH: The general supervisor of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief), Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, has been named the winner of the 2019 moderation award.

Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal made the announcement at a ceremony held on Wednesday in Jeddah.

The award, in its third year, is considered one of the most important in promoting the values of moderation and combating extremism, both internally and externally.

Al-Rabeeah has held 13 positions that contributed to his selection for the award, most notably minister of health, and pediatric surgery consultant, a role in which he performed 47 operations for conjoined twins from 20 countries.

The Saudi National Siamese Twins Separation Program is a global reference and one of Saudi Arabia’s most distinguished medical humanitarian initiatives worldwide.

In December 1990, Al-Rabeeah hit local and international headlines after making history in the Kingdom by performing complex surgery to separate the first conjoined Saudi twins at King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center in Riyadh.

Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah

The case of the conjoined Malaysian twins Ahmed and Mohammed was particularly demanding. The family of the two children appealed to the Kingdom’s government to conduct the separation operation, and Al-Rabeeah carried out successful surgery lasting 23.5 hours in September 2002, by royal request.

After taking over as general supervisor of KSRelief, Al-Rabeeah oversaw 176 projects in 37 countries, including key areas such as food security, health, water, sanitation, education, women, children, vaccination and shelter.

He also implemented the directives of King Salman, providing various humanitarian and relief programs and building partnerships and community support with other countries.

The center executed 1,050 projects in 44 countries in addition to 225 projects dedicated to women and 224 for children.