Eid Al-Adha celebrated around the world amid pandemic

Eid Al-Adha celebrated around the world amid pandemic
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Palestinian Muslim worshippers pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem's old city on the first day of Eid Al-Adha. (AFP)
Eid Al-Adha celebrated around the world amid pandemic
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Iraqi Muslims offer Eid prayers on the street outside Abu Hanifa mosque in Baghdad’s Adhamiya district. (Reuters)
Eid Al-Adha celebrated around the world amid pandemic
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Worshippers pray at the Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque in Beirut while maintaining distance due to COVID-19 pandemic. (AFP)
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Updated 01 August 2020

Eid Al-Adha celebrated around the world amid pandemic

Eid Al-Adha celebrated around the world amid pandemic
  • COVID-19 has temporarily put a stop to several Eid traditions, including that of embracing fellow worshippers after prayers

JEDDAH: Muslims marked the first day of Eid Al-Adha across the world on Friday while abiding by guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In many countries, worshippers performed Eid prayers wearing face masks and observing social distancing in a bid to contain the spread of the pandemic.

In Saudi Arabia, worshippers performed prayers at designated mosques including Makkah’s Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah. People brought their own prayers mats with them and disinfectants were available in all mosques.

COVID-19 has temporarily put a stop to several Eid traditions, including that of embracing fellow worshippers after prayers. “We offered prayers while maintaining a distance and greeted (each other) verbally,” said Zakir Khan, an Indian expatriate in Saudi Arabia.

Many Muslims have been particularly hard hit by the need to stay away from elderly relatives, who could be especially vulnerable to the virus. Rahaf Meer, 26, told Arab News that this necessity had “ruined the spirit of Eid,” explaining that her family had divided its members according to their age to avoid high-risk groups being exposed to the younger members of the family.

“My aunt arranged a gathering just for the elderly (and) my parents are attending the gathering. We weren’t invited because my grandmother is there and we can’t hug or say hello to her,” she said. “I miss her so much.”

Donna Abudawood, 23, said the atmosphere in her home, at least, is still celebratory despite the fact that the pandemic has limited family visits and prevented her from traveling to celebrate Eid with her sister, who lives overseas.

“Since the reopening of mosques in the Kingdom, we have been strictly following precautions,” Tauseef Ahmad, a health informatics analyst at King Saud University, told Arab News. “At Eid, we refrained from shaking hands and hugging, as these steps are necessary to check the spread of the virus.”

Iffat Aabroo, a housewife in Riyadh, told Arab News: “Instead of social gatherings, we connected online with family members and close friends. Hopefully things will come back to normal soon, and we can get together on big occasions.”

Aya Karim, a 17-year-old Syrian student, said: “It is sad that we cannot spend this Eid with our extended families.”

The pandemic has also forced many people to turn to the Internet to buy livestock to sacrifice instead of visiting cattle markets in person, or to simply not make a sacrifice this year. Fahad Siddique, a 31-year-old Pakistani living in Jeddah, listed several things he could not do with his family this Eid. “Because of coronavirus, people couldn’t go for Hajj, they couldn’t travel either, and I couldn’t do my sacrifice this year as I do every year,” he said.

In Jerusalem, residents came out in large numbers early on Friday morning to offer Eid prayer at Al-Aqsa Mosque. Sheikh Azzam Khatib, director of the Jerusalem Waqf Department, told Arab News that he was pleased with the turnout. “I was happy to see Jerusalemites and we tried our best to use all of Al-Aqsa Mosque and urged people to stay outdoors and to adhere to health guidelines,” he said.

Wasfi Kailani, executive director of the Hashemite Fund for the Restoration of Al-Aqsa Mosque, told Arab News that, to the Muslims of Jerusalem, this Eid was very different, taking place as it did amid COVID-19 restrictions and increased oppression by Israeli authorities, who arrested Jerusalem Governor Adnan Ghaith in July and have extended his remand until Thursday.

Palestinian Minister for Jerusalem Affairs Fadi Hidmi admitted the situation in Jerusalem was very tense, with dozens of Palestinians having been barred from entering Al-Aqsa Mosque on religious occasions including Eid Al-Adha.

Jordan and the Arab League issued strong statements against Israel for protecting extremist infiltrators violating the sanctity of Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Sheikh Mohammad Hussein, the mufti of Jerusalem and the Palestinian areas, gave a 14-minute sermon on Friday stressing the right of Muslims to worship in the mosque, and the need for unity among Palestinians.

“The blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque is a place of worship for Muslims,” he said. “We call for Palestinian unity as the only option to stand up to the dangers that Jerusalem and its holy sites are facing.”

In Jordan, restrictions were comparatively relaxed thanks to the country’s low rate of COVID-19 cases. In the month leading up to Eid Al-Adha, less than a dozen local infections were reported.

Health Minister Saad Jaber encouraged Jordanians to enjoy the holidays so long as they abided by government guidelines, while Imad Hijazin, director-general of the Ministry of Tourism, told Arab News: “We expect a good holiday season as far as domestic tourism is concerned.”

The Ajloun Forest Reserve — run by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature — said that all their cabins were reserved for the holiday, while air travel between Amman and the Red Sea resort of Aqaba has reportedly increased markedly.

Eid celebrations in neighboring Lebanon, meanwhile, were overshadowed by a new two-week lockdown that has been imposed due to an alarming spike in COVID-19 cases, meaning that only a limited number of worshippers attended Eid prayers in mosques.

Thousands of Lebanese have left the cities for mountain villages to escape the summer heat and the pandemic. Hundreds have also travelled to Turkey for Eid, according to an official from Middle East Airlines.

“Turkey is the only country where passengers are not required to be quarantined for 14 days. They only need to present a medical certificate with a negative PCR test for the virus,” the official told Arab News. “And on their return to Lebanon they will not be subjected to home quarantine if their stay does not exceed a week.”

Lebanon’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Derian, who usually presides over Eid prayers at Al-Amin Mosque in central Beirut, is currently overseas, so Sheikh Amin Al-Kurdi delivered a sermon on his behalf, during which he criticized those responsible for Lebanon’s economic collapse and said that anyone who desired a position of responsibility should “fear God.”

Prime Minister Hassan Diab did not attend the prayers, but sent a representative instead.

Sidon’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Salim Sussan also criticized the “widespread corruption and lack of justice” in the country in his Eid sermon at Bahaeddine Hariri Mosque, while Grand Jaafari Mufti Sheikh Ahmad Kabalan stressed the need for reconciliation between Arab and Islamic nations to ensure regional peace.

Kabalan also accused the US of “besieging and starving Lebanon,” and urged leaders to “deal with any party in the world where Lebanon’s interests are met without breaking ties with anyone.”

In the south of Lebanon, some Palestinian refugees took to the streets of Ain Al-Hilweh camp to demand the release of detainees held in Lebanese prisons.

In Egypt, a closed prayer service from Al-Sayeda Nafisa Mosque in downtown Cairo was broadcast on TV and radio and the Egyptian cabinet denied rumors that Eid prayers had been open to the public in other mosques as the country’s strict precautions against the COVID-19 pandemic remain in place. In the Minya governorate in Upper Egypt, families reportedly conducted Eid prayers on their roofs to conform with social-distancing measures.

Karim Mohamed, a Cairo-based architect and father of two, explained how his family’s Eid celebrations had been affected by COVID-19. “Even though we saw each other, we refrained from physically touching each other or sharing utensils,” he said. “The hugs and kisses usually exchanged during gatherings were replaced with air kisses.”

He added that he and his children had not taken part in the distribution of food for the needy this year either. “I decided to just donate cash,” Mohamed said.

In his Eid address, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi congratulated Saudi Arabia for its successful organization of the Hajj this year, “despite the exceptional circumstances.” He also congratulated the people of Egypt “and the Arab and Islamic nation on (this) blessed occasion.”

With input from:

Deema Al-Khudair, Jeddah

Ameera Abid, Jeddah

Rashid Hassan, Riyadh

Daoud Kuttab, Amman

Najia Houssari, Beirut

Mohamed Al-Shamaa, Cairo

Salma Ahmed, Cairo


Saudi Arabia records 12 COVID-19 deaths, 1,070 new cases

Saudi Arabia records 12 COVID-19 deaths, 1,070 new cases
Updated 35 min 11 sec ago

Saudi Arabia records 12 COVID-19 deaths, 1,070 new cases

Saudi Arabia records 12 COVID-19 deaths, 1,070 new cases
  • The Kingdom said 940 patients recovered in past 24 hours
  • The highest number of cases were recorded in Riyadh with 483

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia recorded 12 new COVID-19 related deaths on Monday, raising the total number of fatalities to 6,846.
The Ministry of Health confirmed 1,070 new confirmed cases reported in the Kingdom in the previous 24 hours, meaning 407,010 people have now contracted the disease. 
Of the total number of cases, 9,626 remain active and 1,105 in critical condition.
According to the ministry, the highest number of cases were recorded in the capital Riyadh with 483, followed by Makkah with 209, the Eastern Province with 157, Madinah recorded 44, and Asir confirmed 39 cases.

The ministry also announced that 940 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 390,538.
The ministry renewed its call on the public to adhere to the measures and abide by instructions.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected over 141 million people globally and the death toll has reached around 3.01 million.


Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and China’s president discuss climate change

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping to strengthening relations. (File/SPA/AFP)
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping to strengthening relations. (File/SPA/AFP)
Updated 34 min 19 sec ago

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and China’s president discuss climate change

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping to strengthening relations. (File/SPA/AFP)
  • Kingdom is working to organize an annual summit for the Middle East Green Initiative, with China as a major partner
  • They also discussed cooperation in the fields of energy, trade and technology

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman made a phone call to Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday, Saudi Press Agency reported.
During the call, the two leader reviewed the recently announced Saudi Green Initiative and the Middle East Green Initiative to combat environmental challenges in the region.
The crown prince announced the two initiatives in late March that aim to form partnerships with regional countries to tackle afforestation, reduce carbon emissions by 60 percent, and protect the marine environment, among other projects.
The crown prince and the president discussed the contributions of these two initiatives toward achieving global targets to combat climate change, and their influential role in raising the quality of life in the region and the world at large.
The crown prince said the Kingdom is working to organize an annual summit for the Middle East Green Initiative in the presence of leaders and officials in the environmental field, adding that China will be a major partner for the initiative.
The Chinese president said Beijing supported both initiatives, stressing the importance of their support by the international community.
Xi told the crown prince that China wants to advance its strategic partnership with the Kingdom.
The crown prince and the president also discussed cooperation in the fields of energy, trade and technology.
Prince Mohammed said his country was ready to strengthen the interconnection between the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
During the call, Xi said Beijing “is willing to work with Saudi Arabia and other members of the international community to build an equitable climate governance regime that is cooperative and beneficial to all,” Xinhua news agency reported.
The Chinese president also called for joint efforts to comprehensively and effectively implement “the Paris Agreement on climate change in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.”


Saudi-led Arab coalition intercepts Houthi drone launched towards Khamis Mushait

Saudi-led Arab coalition intercepts Houthi drone launched towards Khamis Mushait
Updated 20 April 2021

Saudi-led Arab coalition intercepts Houthi drone launched towards Khamis Mushait

Saudi-led Arab coalition intercepts Houthi drone launched towards Khamis Mushait

DUBAI: The Saudi-led Arab coalition intercepted and destroyed a Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia’s Khamis Mushait on Tuesday, state TV Al-Ekhbariya reported.

The Kingdom has seen an increase in attacks by the militia after the US delisted the Houthis from the list of terrorist organizations.

Last month, Yemen’s Foreign Minister Ahmed bin Mubarak condemned recent attacks by the Houthis, saying that they hindered the peace process and blamed Iran for the ongoing crisis in the country.
“The Iranian interventions have become a formidable obstruction to peace as Iran has turned the Yemeni conflict into a negotiating card that Iranian regime capitalizes on to serve its nuclear negotiations,” he said.


Culture being celebrated in the Kingdom 

Culture being celebrated in the Kingdom 
Updated 20 April 2021

Culture being celebrated in the Kingdom 

Culture being celebrated in the Kingdom 

RIYADH: The National Culture Awards Ceremony kicked off with a bang in Riyadh, honoring 32 Saudi cultural figures in 14 categories.

A part of the Quality of Life program of Vision 2030 the Ministry of Culture announced the first annual National Cultural Awards winners in a ceremony on Monday evening in the Cultural Palace of the Diplomatic Quarter.

Sponsored by the Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman over 14 categories were awarded in cultural pioneering, youth cultural, cultural institutions, film, music, fashion, national heritage, literature, theater and performing arts, visual art, architecture and design, culinary arts, publishing, and translation.

In January 2020 the Ministry of Culture began the completion process and received over 15,000 submissions online and began deliberating the top submissions into October and chose the final winners in December.

The Vice Minister of Culture Hamed M. Fayez spoke on behalf of the Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Farhan Al-Saud in a speech addressing the ceremony stating, “ Culture, with its civilizational value, its social weight, and its effective developmental role today occupies the place it deserves. Thanks to the inspiring and ambitious national vision, the Saudi Vision 2030, which restored culture as a basic pillar in building society.  Anchored by the national identity and aspects of pride in the history and civilization of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

Although the Minister of Culture was not in attendance he applauded the winners of the awards for their role in preserving and promoting the Kingdom's Culture stating, “ These intellectuals and creative minds are our cultural capital. With whom we will reach, with them and with their help, a cultural renaissance fitting the stature of our country.”

Dana Awartani one of the winners of the visual arts award from Jeddah, brings to life traditional geometry and historical themes in her art pieces.

“For me it is a huge honor first of all finally being recognized for the creative industry as a whole and all of the work that we do you know the past few years since the ministry has formed it has been completely different for us in getting support and recognition.”

“This is the first ever awards ceremony recognizing different arts which for me is a an honor to be a part of and it’s everything we have been working for, for the past my whole career has been summed up in today’s award and it is also great to see its  recognition from my own community, from my own country in a place where I grew up and where my art started,” Awartani shared with Arab News”.

Arwa Alammari a fashion pioneer of over 7 years and one of the winners of the fashion award shared her sentiments with Arab News stating,

“Being a part of such a cultural celebration of our heritage in such a way and it coming from my country means a lot to me, I have been working in this field for a very long time and I have been awarded internationally but when it comes from my country it means that we are all going toward the cultural changes that is going to be exported to the world.”

The awards ceremony concluded with a speech from the Governor of Riyadh Prince Faisal Bin Bandar in attendance on behalf of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. 

“There is no doubt that it is a very excellent and wonderful step.  That establishes a cultural approach for this country that affirms its high and sublime position in all forums.” 

Prince Bandar thanked the Crown Prince for sponsoring the awards, the Ministry of Culture, and members of the ministry for organizing the event, “I hope that we will all succeed on other occasions to come, so that we will be at a high level in all our events, as much as tonight.  I thank you and hope every year you are well. Peace, mercy and blessings of God be upon you.”

14 cultural awards winners:

  • The Cultural Pioneer of the Year Award: H.E. Shaikh Mohammed Nasser Alaboudy
  • Youth Cultural Award: Winning first place is Shahad Saeed Amin for her films including “Lady of the Sea” and “Scales” that Saudi Arabia’s film authority nominated for best international film in the Academy Awards.
  • Cultural Institutions Award: First place in the private sector track is King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra), First place in the Non-Profit sector track is Saudi Heritage Preservation Society, and winning first place in the Social responsibility track is the Ketabi Lak Application.
  • Film Award: In first place is Shahad Saeed Amin
  • Fashion Award: In first place Lomar, in second place Yousef Mohammed Akbar,and in third place Arwa Abdullah Alammari
  • Music Award: In first place Zaina Emad Swelleh,in second place Akram Ibrahim Almattar, and in third place Reem Fahad Altamimi.
  • National Heritage Award: In first place Abdulaziz Abdullah Aldakheel, in second place Dr. Hisham Ali Mortada ,and in third place Torathuna Social Responsibility Company.
  • Literature Award: In first place is Abdulaziz Saleh Alsagabi, in second place Magbool Moussa Alalawi, and in third place Amal Saleh Alharbi.
  • Theater and Performing Arts Award: In first place Sami Abdullatif Algamaan and in second place Yasser Yahya Madkhli.
  • Visual Arts Award: in first place Lolowah Abdulrazzaq Alhomoud ,in second place Danah Abdulrahim Awratani, and in third place Ahmad Sami Angawi.
  • Architecture and Design Award: A winner was not selected as the submissions did not meet the requirements. 
  • Culinary Arts Award: In first place Rakan Ibrahim Aloraifi, in second place ZADK Culinary Academy, and in third place Norah Abdulwahab Albadran
  • Publishing Award: In first place was Obeikan Publishing and Translation, second place Kadi and Ramadi for Publishing and Distribution, and in third place Dar Athar for Publishing and Distribution.
  • Translation Award: In first place Abdallah Mohammed Idris, in second place Sultan Nasser Almujaiwel, and in third place Bander Mohammed Alharbi.

King Salman directs SR 1.9 billion to be paid to social security beneficiaries

King Salman directs SR 1.9 billion to be paid to social security beneficiaries
Updated 20 April 2021

King Salman directs SR 1.9 billion to be paid to social security beneficiaries

King Salman directs SR 1.9 billion to be paid to social security beneficiaries

RIYADH: King Salman has authorized SR 1.9 billion to be paid to Saudis who receive social security benefits, Al Ekhbariya reported early Tuesday.
Ahmed Suleiman Al-Rajhi, the minister of human resources and social development, welcomed the king’s generous support to citizens during the holy month of Ramadan. 
The announcement came as Saudis prepare to fast for the eight day.