Saudi Arabia closes Grand Mosque, Prophet’s Mosque between night and morning prayers

Saudi Arabia closes Grand Mosque, Prophet’s Mosque between night and morning prayers
1 / 2
Workers sterilize the ground in front of the Kaaba in the holy city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia, Thursday, Mar. 5, 2020. (AP)
Saudi Arabia closes Grand Mosque, Prophet’s Mosque between night and morning prayers
2 / 2
An aerial view taken on March 5, 2020 shows the white-tiled area surrounding the Kaaba, inside Makkah's Grand Mosque, empty of worshippers. (AFP / ABDEL GHANI BASHIR)
Short Url
Updated 06 March 2020

Saudi Arabia closes Grand Mosque, Prophet’s Mosque between night and morning prayers

Saudi Arabia closes Grand Mosque, Prophet’s Mosque between night and morning prayers
  • The areas surrounding the Kaaba where pilgrims walk around it seven times and between the hills of Safa and Marwah where they perform a ritual called Sa’ee will remain closed until the Umrah ban is lifted
  • As coronavirus precautions increase, Riyadh accuses Tehran of putting world at greater risk

MAKKAH: Saudi Arabia announced on Thursday that the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah will close an hour after the Isha prayer and will open an hour before Fajr (dawn) prayers each day.

It is the latest precaution to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in Saudi Arabia.

The Kingdom suspended all Umrah pilgrimages on Wednesday over coronavirus fears and authorities have cleared out the Grand Mosque in preparation for its sterilization, following the recent suspension of Umrah visits.

A Saudi official said the deep-cleaning operation is a “temporary preventive measure” that is “unprecedented.” Upper floors remain open for prayers, he added. Videos posted online on Thursday showed a deserted mataf, the area where pilgrims circumambulate the Kaaba.

The areas surrounding the Kaaba where pilgrims walk around it seven times and between the hills of Safa and Marwah where they perform a ritual called Sa’ee will remain closed until the Umrah ban is lifted. Prayers will be performed inside the Grand Mosque.

HIGHLIGHTS

Palestine imposes a 2-week tourist ban after finding 7 cases.

Italy closes schools for 10 days. Iran closes colleges.

California declares emergency after first coronavirus death.

Cruise ship with 3,500 on board is being held off its coast.

Bringing food and drink into the mosques is now prohibited and access to Zamzam containers will temporarily be stopped.

The Sacred Chamber in the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah which houses the graves of Prophet Muhammad and his two companions, Abu Bakr Siddiq and Omar ibn Al-Khattab, will also be closed off to worshippers.

The changes at the Two Holy Mosques came as the Kingdom accused Iran of increasing the global threat from the coronavirus by not properly documenting the arrival and departure of foreign visitors.

The Ministry of Health previously announced five Saudis tested positive for COVID-19 after returning from Iran, via Bahrain and Kuwait, without revealing they had been in Iran.

An official source in the Kingdom denounced the irresponsible action of granting Saudi citizens entry to Iran without stamping their passports at a time when there is an outbreak of the virus in the country.

It is proof of Iran’s direct responsibility for growing infection rates and the spread of the virus around the world, the source said. Such behavior poses a serious public-health threat to the global community, undermines international containment efforts, and puts communities at greater risk, he added.




Small groups of people walk around the empty white-tiled area surrounding the Kaaba, inside Meakkah's Grand Mosque. Authorities emptied Islam's holiest site for sterilization over fears of the new coronavirus. (AFP / Abdel Ghani Bashir)

The official urged all Saudis who have visited Iran recently to call the Ministry of Health’s toll-free number (937) so that health precautions can be taken. Saudis currently in Iran were urged to report their visit immediately upon return.

Citizens who voluntarily report their visits to Iran within 48 hours of this announcement will not be subject to the Travel Documents Law and related regulations, the official said. The priority is to ensure the health and safety of citizens who have visited Iran, and their families, by removing the threat of legal action so that they take advantage of safety measures, he added.

The official reiterated that Saudi citizens should not travel to Iran for any reason, and anyone who ignores this faces serious legal repercussions. He called on Iranian authorities to disclose the identities of Saudi nationals who have illegally visited Iran since Feb. 1, and added that they are fully responsible for all Saudis who fail to report their visits and become infected in Iran.

In another development, seven Palestinians working at a hotel in Bethlehem where Greek tourists were staying have tested positive for the coronavirus. The government has declared a two-week ban on tourists.

Italy has closed all schools for at least 10 days, and Iran is closing educational institutions until April. California has declared a state of emergency after its first coronavirus death, and a cruise ship with 3,500 people on board is being held off its coast.

 


Arabic calligraphy’s fusion with Japanese captures beauty of both worlds

Arabic calligraphy’s fusion with Japanese captures beauty of both worlds
Noha Raheem says when she was younger, she discovered the three famous Japanese written scripts — including Kanji, Katakana and Hiragana — and she was awestruck. (Supplied)
Updated 23 June 2021

Arabic calligraphy’s fusion with Japanese captures beauty of both worlds

Arabic calligraphy’s fusion with Japanese captures beauty of both worlds
  • My enthusiasm for Kanji script started six years ago, says Saudi designer and calligrapher Noha Raheem

JEDDAH: Saudi artist, designer and calligrapher Noha Raheem ventured into the world of calligraphy in an unconventional way, fusing her interest in Kanji — the logographic Chinese characters used in the Japanese writing system — with Arabic calligraphy.

The result has been a portfolio of unique and eye-catching works that capture the beauty of both worlds
“I’m fond of Arabic calligraphy and graphics in general. My enthusiasm for Kanji script started six years ago,” Raheem told Arab News.
“Any calligraphic font has its roles and system. When I was younger, I discovered the three famous Japanese written scripts — including Kanji, Katakana and Hiragana — and I was awestruck. The impressive vertical letters, the way they are formed and their meaningful symbols were like a secret code.”

FASTFACT

In Arabic calligraphy, writing proceeds from right to left and forms a horizontal line. Artists rarely confine themselves to convention, though.

In Arabic calligraphy, writing proceeds from right to left and forms a horizontal line. Artists rarely confine themselves to convention, though.
“For Kufic calligraphy and freestyle in Arabic, I was driven by passion. I was inspired by Hajji Noor Deen in my beginnings, and later on, I created Arabic calligraphy in the Kanji style to show the beauty and flexibility of this complex yet innovative mix,” Raheem said.


The self-taught calligrapher discovered the roles and philosophy behind the beauty of Kanji script. “It is said that the only rule for Japanese and Chinese calligraphy is that it is beautiful, no matter what is written. What matters is how it is written. That’s why I believe the Kanji style can be merged and fitted with our Arabic letters to create a masterpiece for both eye and mind,” she said.
She explained that Arabic letters are equally malleable. “They can be shaped in any way, and still keep their form and meaning. Today I wrote my letters in the Kanji style. Later, I might do it in Urdu just to show the world how flexible and beautiful Arabic letters are.”
Raheem’s artworks, including famous sayings and poetry in Arabic, are written freestyle — a tricky task.


She also writes Qur’anic verses in Kanji: “I love to write words that anyone can relate to, including poetry and short verses with iconic and universal messages. I can apply this art to any word, as long as it makes sense to me.”
Raheem is faithful to the cultures she draws inspiration from, using traditional Sumi ink and off-white, antique-style background colors with black script, or vice versa, to mirror the essence of the Japanese style.
She also uses Japanese calligraphy brushes, Xuan rice paper, and Kakejiku, a Japanese hanging scroll used to display and exhibit paintings and calligraphic inscriptions and designs.
Her love for and dedication to Japanese art drove her to share her knowledge and display her works at art cafes, galleries, and sushi restaurants in Saudi Arabia and Dubai.
She encourages other Arab artists to explore the beauty and flexibility of the Arabic language and preserve it through art. Raheem can be found at her Instagram account @noha_raheem.


Daily virus tally hits 10-month high in Saudi Arabia

Daily virus tally hits 10-month high in Saudi Arabia
Health authorities urged the public to continue to follow all precautionary measures. (SPA)
Updated 23 June 2021

Daily virus tally hits 10-month high in Saudi Arabia

Daily virus tally hits 10-month high in Saudi Arabia
  • Authorities urge compliance with health guidelines

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Tuesday recorded the highest single-day total of new COVID-19 cases since Aug. 13, 2020.
Authorities in the Kingdom reported an additional 1,479 infections, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 476,882. Of these, 11,131 remain active and 1,487 patients are in critical condition.
The Health Ministry also said there have been a further 12 virus-related deaths, raising the death toll in the country to 7,703.
Makkah region has the highest number of new infections, with 431, followed by the Eastern Province with 280 and Riyadh region with 256.
The ministry said that an additional 920 patients have recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 458,048. It added that about 16.8 million doses of coronavirus vaccine have been administered, an average of 94,104 a day, which is a rate of 48.2 doses per hundred people.
Health authorities urged the public to continue to follow all precautionary measures and ministry guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus. All ministries and other government bodies in the Kingdom are working together to ensure compliance with health guidelines.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Saudi Arabia reported 1,479 new cases on Tuesday.

• The Makkah region reported the highest number of infections.

• With 12 new fatalities, the death toll has risen to 7,703.

The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development carried out 448,126 inspections of commercial establishments in the private sector throughout the country in the first five months of this year. The aim is to ensure employers are following all rules and regulations relating to pandemic-related health protocols and to Saudization legislation. The teams recorded 45,421 violations and issued 51,005 warnings.
The ministry called on employers to adhere to its decisions and legislation relating to the labor market, improve the working environment and implement localization rules, as well as precautionary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Unannounced inspections of the private sector institutions will continue throughout the Kingdom, it added


Saudi education portal among global top 4, says UNESCO official

Saudi education portal among global top 4, says UNESCO official
Saudi Education Minister Dr. Hamad bin Mohammed Al-Asheikh held a meeting with UNESCO’s top official Stefania Giannini in Italy on Tuesday. (SPA)
Updated 32 min 56 sec ago

Saudi education portal among global top 4, says UNESCO official

Saudi education portal among global top 4, says UNESCO official
  • The UNESCO official said the Kingdom’s success in introducing distance learning in a short time has propelled it into a leadership role in this field

RIYADH: UNESCO’s assistant director general for education on Tuesday lauded Saudi Arabia for promptly switching over to online learning methods in the wake of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
During a meeting with Saudi Education Minister Dr. Hamad bin Mohammed Al-Asheikh on the sidelines of the G20 education ministers’ meeting in Catania in Italy, Stefania Giannini said the Kingdom has achieved great success in e-learning and distance education during the pandemic.
She praised the swiftness of the Saudi authorities in switching over to online learning without compromising on the quality of education.
The UNESCO official said the Kingdom’s success in introducing distance learning in a short time has propelled it into a leadership role in this field. Giannini said the Madarasti online learning platform introduced by the Kingdom is among the top four global models.

FASTFACT

The Madarasti platform provides students with virtual classes, homework assignments, and delivery tools and is used in conjunction with the iEN YouTube channel and the iEN national education portal.

The fully interactive platform was developed as a response to the coronavirus pandemic, which shut down schools across the Kingdom. It is designed so that students can log in and attend their lessons digitally, interact with their teachers and track their progress.
It provides students with virtual classes, homework assignments, and delivery tools and is used in conjunction with the iEN YouTube channel and the iEN national education portal.
School leaders consistently monitor the educational process via Madrasati, prepare class schedules, communicate with absent students, and provide technical support for students and their parents.


Summer vacations: Insurance providers step up to cover travel risks

Summer vacations: Insurance providers step up to cover travel risks
Saudis will not be allowed to enter airports or board aircraft without showing their health status through the Tawakkalna app. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 3 min 14 sec ago

Summer vacations: Insurance providers step up to cover travel risks

Summer vacations: Insurance providers step up to cover travel risks
  • Countries are demanding travelers have travel insurance in order to lift the financial burden of medical bills in case of emergencies
  • A traveler is exposed to losses such as quarantine and treatment costs of COVID-19, cancellation of a flight or shortening its duration or missing flights, or loss of luggage or delay of luggage

RIYADH: With summer vacations underway and more countries easing restrictions on international travelers, health risks from COVID-19 remain a source of concern.
Citizens are being encouraged to follow health precautions before departure to ensure a safe trip, while health insurance is also an entry requirement for some countries.
Pre-flight tests are required and more countries are demanding travelers to their countries have travel insurance in order to lift the financial burden of medical bills in case of emergencies. Others require visitors to buy healthcare policies from their destination’s government.
For travelers under 18, health insurance that covers COVID-19 infection is mandatory. The 12 accredited health insurance service providers are following the guidelines.
In a joint press conference with the Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation last month, Council of Cooperative Health Insurance (CCHI) spokesman Othman Al-Qasabi said that a new insurance policy in conjunction with the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) will include benefits that cover the risks of COVID-19 infection.
The policy is mandatory for those under 18 planning to travel.
Talal Albotty, regional director of the Central Region at Salama Insurance Co, told Arab News that the central bank initiative in collaboration with the CCHI aims to distribute risks and losses if these occur.
Comprehensive coverage is included for travelers on international flights against all risks related to travel outside Saudi Arabia, he said.
“A traveler is exposed to losses such as quarantine and treatment costs of COVID-19, cancellation of a flight or shortening its duration or missing flights, or loss of luggage or delay of luggage. The policy includes coverage of emergency medical expenses, personal accidents, or transportation of a deceased from or to Saudi Arabia and liability toward others as per the conditions and exceptions delineated in the unified insurance policy,” he said.
Albotty said the cost of an insurance policy does not exceed SR375 ($100) a month. However, if more services are added, these will be calculated proportionately as per the duration of the policy.

Saudis will not be allowed to enter airports or board aircraft without showing their health status through the Tawakkalna app. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)

The policy is for people vaccinated against COVID-19 and is required for anyone under 18 traveling outside Saudi Arabia since they are not required to take a vaccine under global protocols, he said.
Husain Quhal, a senior executive with a leading insurance company, told Arab News: “The Saudi Central Bank has launched a campaign to educate people on the importance of travel insurance covering COVID-19 risks as well as reducing costs of traveling abroad.”
Feroz Khan, vice president of sales in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain for Webbeds, a leading accommodation supplier to the travel industry, told Arab News: “Resumption of flights in May, opening of borders, and relaxation in travel and quarantine protocols have all resulted in positive travel sentiments.”
Webbeds is in touch with its partner company in the Kingdom and will make this travel insurance available for travel agents to book online shortly, he said.
Saudis travelers will not be allowed to enter airports or board aircraft without showing their health status through the government-approved health app, Tawakkalna.
Travelers who have received two vaccine doses, those who have completed two weeks since receiving the first jab, those who are immune by recovery no more than six months since infection and children under the age of 18 who have travel insurance obtained in cooperation with the Saudi Central Bank will be the only groups allowed to cross international borders.


Who’s Who: Dr. Suzan Mohammed Al-Yahya, director general of Saudi Arabia’s Royal Institute of Traditional Arts

Who’s Who: Dr. Suzan Mohammed Al-Yahya, director general of Saudi Arabia’s Royal Institute of Traditional Arts
Updated 22 June 2021

Who’s Who: Dr. Suzan Mohammed Al-Yahya, director general of Saudi Arabia’s Royal Institute of Traditional Arts

Who’s Who: Dr. Suzan Mohammed Al-Yahya, director general of Saudi Arabia’s Royal Institute of Traditional Arts

Dr. Suzan Mohammed Al-Yahya has been appointed director general of Saudi Arabia’s Royal Institute of Traditional Arts.

Al-Yahya will be responsible for managing the institute, implementing its strategic directions and developing traditional arts in line with the institute’s vision.

She is one of the top academics in the field of art and design, having worked as a faculty member at Princess Nourah Bint Abdul Rahman University.

She also worked as a consultant, and was a member of advisory committees at the university and other organizations.

Al-Yahya obtained a master’s degree in art education and a Ph.D. in educational technology, as well as a Ph.D. in educational policies and leadership at the University of Northern Colorado, US.

She has authored research papers in various fields and participated in several scientific conferences.

The institute will launch its first training courses in September aimed at enriching traditional arts, training specialized national cadres, raising the level of public awareness, and preserving tangible and intangible cultural heritage.

The Royal Institute of Traditional Arts is one the initiatives of the Quality of Life Program, part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan.

The Ministry of Culture aims to develop the local cultural sector through education and knowledge. The institute will provide advanced educational programs to prepare young Saudis to help the Kingdom develop its cultural sector along modern lines.