The Well of Zamzam is a lasting miracle

The Well of Zamzam is a lasting miracle
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The old rails and bucket of the Zamzam well preserved in a museum. (SPA)
The Well of Zamzam is a lasting miracle
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The old rails and bucket of the Zamzam well preserved in a museum. (SPA)
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Updated 01 August 2020

The Well of Zamzam is a lasting miracle

The Well of Zamzam is a lasting miracle
  • For thousands of years, thirsty pilgrims have relied on the blessed source for drinking water and spiritual inspiration

JEDDAH: It is one of the most enduring miracles of Islam, representing God’s mercy. The Well of Zamzam first sprang 5,000 years ago under the feet of the Prophet Ismael after his mother Hagar, the second wife of Ibrahim, ran seven times between the two hills of Safa and Marwah looking for water to save her thirsty son.

The name of the well comes from the phrase Zome Zome, meaning “stop flowing,” a command repeated by Hagar as she attempted to contain the spring water.

The well’s ever-clean water has no moss, insects, fungus, or any other impurities. It contains a higher level of natural minerals than normal desalinated water. For this reason, it has a distinct, heavy taste.

Pilgrims are always keen to drink from the well and carry bottles filled with the water to their homelands since it is believed to be a natural source of healing for the sick, according to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).




The Zamzam water bottling plant in Makkah. (SPA file photo)
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The development and maintenance of the Well of Zamzam has been of major importance, with the water source protected for centuries in many ways.

As the main source of water for visitors to Makkah in ancient times and for present-day pilgrims, the well has never stopped generating the blessed water for Muslims, except for a short period of time.

Throughout the ages, the well was guarded by Abd Al-Muttalib bin Hashim, grandfather of Prophet Muhammad, then by many Muslim caliphs up until modern times, when it fell under the protection of Saudi kings starting with the founder of current Saudi Arabia, King Abdul Aziz.

In the past, the holy well was protected in a primitive way, but during the late King Abdullah’s reign, a great leap was taken with regard to developing the way the well was maintained. He changed the methods of filling and distributing water across the Two Holy Mosques.

He also started the King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Zamzam Water Project (KPZW) in 2013.

With the increasing number of visitors coming for Umrah and Hajj, the demand for Zamzam water also rapidly increased. This necessitated more development for the well.

The construction cost of the project amounted to more than SR700 million ($187 million).




Chinese blue-and-white porcelain sealed Zamzam water bottle from the 19th century. (Khaliili Family Trust)

The project did away with many of the old unprofessional methods related to pumping, filtering, distributing and filling the water, replacing these with the newest, safest technologies.

In the past, the water used to be bottled manually in different-sized containers, without following an authorized bottling process, resulting in unwanted water pollution.

With this new project, however, there are two main sizes of authorized containers — 5 and 10 liters — in which the water is treated, bottled, stored, and distributed efficiently.

Before the end of the Hajj or Umrah journey, visitors make sure to get a bottle or two of Zamzam water before they leave, which in previous years used to result in chaos and unorganized queues. Today, the project allows water containers to be distributed to pilgrims inside buses or in airports in order to save time and prevent crowding.




Water distribution centers have been placed in various corners of the Makkah Grand Mosque for easy access to worshippers.
 

Inside the Two Holy Mosques, the water is provided in coolers that undergo a daily cleaning and filling process.

The online purchase of Zamzam water is a part of the National Water Company’s project, which was initiated following the suspension of sales as a precaution during the outbreak of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Zamzam water is now distributed via the Saudi electronic business platform HNAK, which offers home delivery service as well.

Extraction, pumping and continued surveillance of storage and pipelines are achieved through the optical fiber technology of the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition network.

With all these technologies, the quality of Zamzam water’s natural minerals is preserved and sustained according to meticulous research carried out to determine the most suitable methods of pumping and filtering.




Volunteers distribute bottled Zamzam water to pilgrims inside a bus. (AN file photo)

To prevent all the characteristics of Zamzam water from being affected by any external natural contaminations, the Zamzam Studies and Research Center has applied rigorous quality control.

“In order to be able to manage the Well of Zamzam in a sustainable manner, we need to have a full understanding of the environmental and hydrogeological setting of this holy well and the sources of water reaching it, including water conductors in the area,” Samer Showman, president of the research center, told Arab News.

“We need to see how the water is being stored and how fast it is moving and the types of minerals it extracts through its journey between the rocks to understand what characterizes the fingerprint of Zamzam water.

“We have linked the mathematical model with a rainfall data network and rainfall stations in a different part of the aquifer to determine the exact volume and quantity of water that can be extracted throughout the year in Wadi Ibrahim,” he added.

Showman said that a special laboratory for Zamzam water in Makkah tracks and tests different samples of the water, which are analyzed on a weekly basis to maintain water quality.

Decoder

Zamzam

Zamzam is the name of the well in Makkah that comes from the phrase Zome Zome, meaning ‘stop flowing,’ a command repeated by Hagar during her attempt to contain the spring water. Zamzam has over 60 names, including, Zamam, Taybah, Barah, Maymounah, Siqayatu-l Hajj, Barakah, Mubarakah, Kafiyah, Afiyah, Muathibah.


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

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

Arabic calligraphy’s fusion with Japanese Kanji 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 23 June 2021

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 23 June 2021

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.


Saudi rights chief meets top Philippines official

Saudi rights chief meets top Philippines official
Saudi human rights chief meets top Philippines official in Riyadh. (SPA)
Updated 23 June 2021

Saudi rights chief meets top Philippines official

Saudi rights chief meets top Philippines official
  • Saudi Arabia hosts more than 800,000 Filipinos, the highest in any Gulf state, according to a 2020 government estimate

RIYADH: The president of Human Right Commission, Dr. Awwad Al-Awwad, held a meeting with Robert Eric Borje, chief of presidential protocol and presidential assistant on foreign affairs of the Philippines, in Riyadh on Tuesday.
They discussed ways to enhance cooperation in all field especially human rights.
Al-Awwad highlighted the Kingdom’s efforts in streamlining the local labor market and the steps Saudi Arabia has taken to ensure the safety of all in the wake of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Philippines and Saudi Arabia have agreed to increase cooperation on labor reforms and ensure the well-being of over 800,000 Filipino migrant workers in the Kingdom.
Saudi Arabia hosts more than 800,000 Filipinos, the highest in any Gulf state, according to a 2020 government estimate.