UK parliamentary group praises Hajj facilities

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From left: British Consul-General Seif Usher, Yasmin Qureshi, MP, and Rashid Mogradia, CEO of the Council of British Hajjis. (Photo/Supplied)
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British Consul-General Seif Usher with pilgrims. (Photo/Supplied)
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British Consul-General Seif Usher with pilgrims. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 16 August 2019
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UK parliamentary group praises Hajj facilities

  • The Kingdom welcomed about 26,000 British pilgrims this year
  • More than 100,000 pilgrims traveled from the UK to perform Umrah

JEDDAH: The head of a British parliamentary group praised Saudi authorities for their efforts in ensuring another successful Hajj season. The Kingdom welcomed about 26,000 British pilgrims this year, many of them first-timers. In addition, more than 100,000 pilgrims traveled from the UK to perform Umrah.

MP Yasmin Qureshi, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hajj and Umrah, was among the British Hajj pilgrims.

“I would like to thank the Saudi government for their logistics and preparations for Hajj, which has allowed British pilgrims to perform the pilgrimage with significant ease,” she said.

“At the Hajj Symposium, I had the opportunity to meet the Deputy Minister for Hajj and Umrah, Dr. Abdul Fattah Mashat, and Dr. Abdul Aziz Wazzan (an undersecretary at the ministry), who shared with us the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plans. They are hoping to increase the number of pilgrims and enhance their experience. The number of Britons who attended Hajj is a promising sign of their future success.

“We look forward to developing close cooperation between Saudi Arabia and the UK.”

British tour operators and pilgrims reported great improvements at Hajj this year, including an immigration process lasting less than five minutes and a journey to Makkah that took only a few hours.

“I was proud to receive the first group of Hajj pilgrims (from Britain) on arrival at Jeddah airport last month,” said British Consul-General Seif Usher. “During the course of Hajj, I have had the privilege of meeting pilgrims from across the United Kingdom. Their commitment to fulfilling this most important of religious undertakings in Islam, and especially during the high temperatures of August, has been an inspiration.”

Rashid Mogradia, CEO of the Council of British Hajjis, also commended King Salman and the Saudi government for developing a range of services that ease and improve the Hajj experience.

“We are witnessing a transformation in the delivery of services for Hajj, and we are adapting by working with licensed Hajj organizers and local Saudi agencies to deliver support for British pilgrims,” he said.

“Our dedicated Hajj Team has been moving with the tour groups and pilgrims throughout Hajj and supporting them as required, giving them reassurance during this enduring journey of faith.”


King Abdul Aziz lookalike to star in new Saudi Movie 'Born a King'

Updated 32 min 32 sec ago

King Abdul Aziz lookalike to star in new Saudi Movie 'Born a King'

  • Rakan Abdulwahid is the 32-year-old Saudi actor who plays King Abdul Aziz
  • The rapper, singer, designer, model and now actor considers himself a 'Saudi ambassador of arts to the US' 

RIYADH: With his long dreadlocked hair, handsome Arabian looks and a quiet disposition, Rakan Abdulwahid is the 32-year-old Saudi actor who plays King Abdul Aziz in “Born a King.”

His family history runs deep with the Al-Saud family. “My great grandfather fought alongside King Abdul Aziz,” Rakan told Arab News.  

His family’s lineage goes back to the days of King Abdulaziz as they are considered the official “Al-Arda” dance performers. They have been performing the pre-war and celebratory dance for over a century, before the founding of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

His uncle, Salah Abdulwahid, is featured in the movie, as the main Al-Arda performer.

The Saudi actor felt a connection to the founder of the Kingdom, not only physically resembling the king, but also embodying his charisma.

Before the shooting of the movie, he began reading up on anything he could get his hands on to learn more about the founder’s personality, to try and pefect his character and do him justice on the big screen.

Born in the US and raised in the Kingdom, and an avid athlete in his youth, he was a soccer player until he broke his hip in a tournament.

 

 

The multitalented actor not only shines through on the big screen, but is a rapper, singer, model and designer. As a lover of the arts in all forms, he believes that culture can build bridges across the world.

He has vowed to represent his country in a positive manner while breaking stereotypes about Saudi Arabia. He also speaks French, English and Spanish fluently.

The actor obtained four degrees in just 7 years, having majored in industrial engineering with a minor in business and math from Northeastern University.

He later continued his education and received his master’s in engineering project management and an MBA certificate in global supply chain management. However, that didn’t stop him from taking law classes at Harvard for a semester.

As a child he would write 300-page stories, cooked passionately and danced with abandonment.

He returned to his homeland to play one of the most influential people in the Kingdom’s history: Its founder King Abdul Aziz.