Saudi Arabia allows mosques to open for Friday prayers

Visitors walk on the esplanade in front of the Hasan Anani mosque in the Saudi Arabian port city of Jeddah. (File/AFP)
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Updated 27 May 2020

Saudi Arabia allows mosques to open for Friday prayers

  • Mosques will open for Friday prayers in all regions except Makkah
  • Imams must ensure worshippers abide by health instructions

RIYADH: Mosques in Saudi Arabia are to reopen for Friday prayers this week as the Kingdom relaxes measures to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The Ministry of Islamic Affairs said mosques will be open to the public for the weekly prayers from May 31 until June 20, except in Makkah.
A circular issued to mosque staff by Sheikh Abdullatif bin Abdul Aziz bin Abdul Rahman Al-Asheikh, the Islamic affairs minister, said windows and doors must be open at all times and copies of the Qur’an must be temporarily withdrawn.
“Worshippers must keep two meters apart and leave a row of space empty between each row,” he said.
“They must also wear face masks at all times, bring their own prayer mats and perform ablution at home.”
Imams must ensure worshippers avoid crowding when entering and exiting the mosques and children under 15 are not allowed to enter.
Water coolers and the distribution of food and drinks are not permitted, as well as incense and miswak, which is used to clean teeth. Mosques must also close all toilets and places of ablution.
The instructions follow other announcements in the Kingdom relaxing aspects of the lockdown, including reducing curfews and allowing more movement of people. 
The circular to mosque staff also said educational programs and workshops for memorizing the Qur’an should continue remotely online until further notice.
Smaller mosques can open 15 minutes before the call to prayer and should close 10 minutes after they finish.
Mosques with larger crowds can open 20 minutes before prayers and should close 20 minutes after they finish, and the sermon should not last more than 15 minutes.
The Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages, which attract millions of travelers from around the world, will remain suspended until further notice, the ministry said.


Global organizations commend Saudi Arabia’s role in e-learning

Updated 23 October 2020

Global organizations commend Saudi Arabia’s role in e-learning

JEDDAH: Six international organizations have completed two studies on e-learning in the Kingdom and praised its efforts in providing a rapid response, multiple options and continuous improvement during the coronavirus pandemic.
The studies involved the participation of 342,000 respondents and were conducted under the supervision of the Kingdom’s National Center for e-Learning.
The center said that the global organizations completed two comprehensive studies on the experience of public and higher education in Saudi Arabia during the pandemic, with the aim of documenting and studying the reality of the experience and coming up with initiatives to develop e-learning practices in accordance with current global practices and standards.
The studies were conducted with the participation of students, faculty members, teachers, parents and school leaders.
The number of participants in the public education study reached 318,000, while the number of participants in the higher education study reached 24,000.
The first study was prepared by the Online Learning Consortium (OLC), with the participation of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), Quality Matters (QM), the UNESCO Institute of Information Technologies in Education (IITE), the National Research Center for Distance Education and Technological Advancements (DETA) in the US.
The second study was prepared by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) with the cooperation of the Harvard Graduate School
of Education.
In the studies, reference comparisons were made with more than 193 countries. The two studies showed the Kingdom’s distinction in the diversity of options, including, for example, electronic content and satellite channels available for e-learning in public education.

NUMBER

342k

The studies on e-learning involved the participation of 342,000 respondents and were conducted under the supervision of the Kingdom’s National Center for e-Learning.

The percentage of countries that succeeded in providing these at the national level was only 38 percent.
The study conducted by the OECD and the Harvard Graduate School of Education included a comparison of the Kingdom’s response to education during the COVID-19 pandemic with 37 member states.
The results showed the Kingdom’s progress in 13 out of 16 indicators on the average of
these countries.
The study also revealed that teachers received significant support to overcome obstacles to e-learning.
The study of public education indicated that there was a clear strategy for the Ministry of Education to reopen schools in the Kingdom and address any issues.
OLC hailed the efforts of the Saudi Ministry of Education in dealing with the crisis by providing a variety of options for e-learning, and the quick response to the pandemic and immediate shift to remote instruction.
The two studies recommended 71 proposed development initiatives for public education and 78 proposed development initiatives for higher education.
The National Center for e-Learning is working in coordination with the Ministry of Education to present the initiatives and begin their implementation.
The center announced that the organizations that conducted the studies would publish their results and complete the second phase at the end of the current semester.