Kingdom’s ‘wise’ Hajj strategy wins praise

1 / 2
Indian Ambassador Ausaf Sayeed with Mohammad Saleh bin Taher Benten, Saudi Minister for Haj and Umrah. (Supplied)
2 / 2
Djibouti Ambassador Dya-Eddine Said Bamakhrama. (Supplied)
Short Url
Updated 01 August 2020

Kingdom’s ‘wise’ Hajj strategy wins praise

  • This year’s Hajj was scaled down to combat the virus, but has served as an example of excellent management skills in exceptional circumstances
  • Saudi authorities made elaborate arrangements to protect pilgrims and provide them with a unique experience of spiritual satisfaction

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has won global praise for successfully organizing the Hajj pilgrimage this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year’s Hajj was scaled down to combat the virus, but has served as an example of excellent management skills in exceptional circumstances. Normally, the annual religious gathering draws more than 2 million people from around the world every year.

Since its foundation, the Kingdom has worked to serve pilgrims and ensure high-quality services during Hajj. The expansion of Makkah’s Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah is testament to Saudi keenness to ensure pilgrim comfort and security.

Indian Ambassador Dr. Ausaf Sayeed said that Hajj 2020 is unique because of the pandemic. Each year more than 200,000 pilgrims from India perform Hajj.

The envoy said it was a tough task to make arrangements for Hajj this year while ensuring pilgrim safety.

“We are going through one of the most challenging times in the history of humankind in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected about 15 million people across the globe,” he said.

The ambassador said the call to limit Hajj to domestic pilgrims within Saudi Arabia meant the Indian Hajj mission had a limited role, only welcoming the few Indian worshippers in the Kingdom.

He said the Saudi authorities made elaborate arrangements to protect pilgrims and provide them with a unique experience of spiritual satisfaction.

Arrangements for Hajj began early and diplomatic missions started work on their projects long before the season began.

“Before the outbreak of COVID-19, the Indian Hajj Office had made good progress in making arrangements for Hajj 2020, including hiring of accommodation, buses and transport services, procuring of items for pilgrims and contracting for other services,” Sayeed said.

“In fact, we started preparations for Hajj 2020 immediately after the last Hajj was completed,” the envoy said.

“We followed the advice of the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah in light of the pandemic and offered our full cooperation to the Saudi side for whatever decision the leadership may take in the overall interest of the pilgrims.

“Last year, we had a record number of 200,000 Indian pilgrims performing Hajj, thanks to the magnanimous decision of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to increase the Hajj quota for India by 30,000, Sayeed said.

“The arrangements for Hajj are complex and require close coordination with different agencies in the Kingdom, particularly the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, which has always been extremely cooperative with us.

“We also receive extraordinary support from the governorates of Makkah and Madinah as well as the Civil Aviation and Security agencies at the Jeddah and Madinah airports, which enables us to make smooth flight arrangements at the time of arrival and departure of pilgrims.

“I have been following Hajj arrangements in the Kingdom since 1995, when I was first posted here as a consul. I have noticed that, progressively, there has been a complete transformation in Hajj-related infrastructure and the facilities that are extended to pilgrims. It is the personal interest taken by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and the leadership in the Hajj arrangements that makes all the difference,” Sayeed added.

Indian Hajj pilgrims appreciated arrangements during Hajj 2019, which was reflected in the post-Hajj survey conducted by the Indian Hajj Mission last year, he said.

Dya-eddine Said Bamakhrama, dean of the Diplomatic Corps and Djibouti’s envoy in Saudi Arabia, told Arab News: “The Saudi authorities imposed precautionary measures in order to keep Hajj safe, preserve the health of the guests of Allah and avoid large gatherings. I believe it was a wise decision and shows that the Kingdom is committed to holding the Hajj rites even in the most difficult circumstances.

“Saudi Arabia had made great achievements through the history in terms of organizing the Hajj.

“I would like to highlight that efforts made by the Saudi government for Hajj and Umrah are highly praised by every Muslim.

“As dean of the Diplomatic Corps in Saudi Arabia, I’d like to express the gratitude and appreciation of Muslims to King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Minister of Interior Prince Abdul Aziz bin Saud bin Naif bin Abdul Aziz, Makkah Gov. Prince Khalid Al-Faisal and Hajj and Umrah Minister Dr. Saleh Benten for their great efforts in serving Muslims and the Two Holy Mosques.

“There is good coordination between the Hajj Mission at the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Culture and Endowments in the Republic of Djibouti and our Consulate-General in Jeddah in organizing pilgrimage and serving pilgrims, but due to the pandemic, the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah worked exclusively this year on selecting pilgrims after they applied for the Hajj through the ministry’s website,” the ambassador 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.