Kingdom’s ‘wise’ Hajj strategy wins praise

Kingdom’s ‘wise’ Hajj strategy wins praise
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Indian Ambassador Ausaf Sayeed with Mohammad Saleh bin Taher Benten, Saudi Minister for Haj and Umrah. (Supplied)
Kingdom’s ‘wise’ Hajj strategy wins praise
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Djibouti Ambassador Dya-Eddine Said Bamakhrama. (Supplied)
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Updated 01 August 2020

Kingdom’s ‘wise’ Hajj strategy wins praise

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.


Unvaccinated people rush to receive COVID-19 vaccine in Saudi Arabia

Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development’s control teams in Makkah region carried out 20,137 inspection tours in July on private sector enterprises. (SPA)
Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development’s control teams in Makkah region carried out 20,137 inspection tours in July on private sector enterprises. (SPA)
Updated 14 min 12 sec ago

Unvaccinated people rush to receive COVID-19 vaccine in Saudi Arabia

Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development’s control teams in Makkah region carried out 20,137 inspection tours in July on private sector enterprises. (SPA)
  • One dose or virus recovered must to attend events and enter establishments

JEDDAH: The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in Saudi Arabia has increased in the past 10 days with the arrival of the Aug. 1 deadline that means unvaccinated residents are prohibited from entering establishments.

The acceleration comes as residents of the Kingdom are required to receive at least one jab or have recovered from COVID-19 to attend social, cultural, sports and entertainment gatherings, and enter private, government or commercial establishments. Health authorities have called on residents to register for the vaccine, and centers across the Kingdom have been urged to provide more time-slots to accommodate the growing numbers.
So far, 27 million vaccine doses have been delivered at a rate of 77 doses per hundred. More than 8.1 million so far have received two doses and more than 77.5 percent of the Kingdom’s 34.8 million have been vaccinated so far.
More than 1.46 million of the Kingdom’s elderly have been vaccinated to date.
Health officials continue to urge residents to receive the vaccine, adhere to social distancing measures and take precautionary measures to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, a Saudi research team has successfully developed the first Saudi vaccine against COVID-19 and is ready to carry out clinical trials after receiving the required approvals.

INNUMBERS

525,730 Total cases

506,089 Recoveries

8,237 Deaths

Led by Dr. Iman Almansour, the research team from the Institute for Research and Medical Consultations (IRMC) at the Imam Abdulrahman bin Faisal University in Dammam published the findings, “Immunogenicity of Multiple Doses of pDNA Vaccines against SARS-CoV-2,” in the  Pharmaceuticals Journal on MDPI, an open-access publishing website for academics.
On Saturday, 1,146 new cases were reported by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health, raising the total number to 525,730.
Three regions reported numbers above the 100 case mark, Riyadh leading with 243 cases, the Eastern Province with 209 and Makkah with 196 cases. Jouf continues to be the region with the lowest count with only eight cases on Saturday.
There are currently 11,404 active cases, 1,377 of which are in critical care, a decline of 18 in the past 24 hours.
A total of 1,086 new recoveries were reported, raising the total number of recoveries to 506,089. The Kingdom’s recovery rate is currently holding steady at 96.2 percent.
Riyadh led the cities with the highest recovery count as 232 recoveries were reported, Taif with 99 and Jeddah with 64 recoveries.
A total of 11 new fatalities due to complications from COVID-19 have been reported, raising the death tally to 8,237.
A total of 113,300 PCR tests have been conducted in the past 24 hours, raising the total number to more than 25 million tests so far.
Meanwhile, Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development’s control teams in Makkah region carried out 20,137 inspection tours in July on private sector enterprises, to ensure abidance by the precautionary and preventive measures against the coronavirus disease and compliance with nationalization and labor regulations.
During the inspections, 3,755 violations of labor regulations and precautionary measures were found, and 813 warnings issued.
The ministry urged owners of enterprises to abide by all precautionary measures at workplaces to curb the spread of the virus, and to abide by the ministry’s regulations to avoid incurring penalties.
Inspection tours will continue across businesses in all regions of the Kingdom, the ministry addedd, calling on everyone in the region to report breaches and violations through its call center (19911) or its Ma3an lil Rasd app.


British-Nigerian photographer gaining popularity in the Saudi art scene for her black and white photographs of KSA

Monochromatic photographs add a timeless quality to an image. With the help of social media, Saudi Arabia is in the spotlight as outsiders finally look in. (Supplied)
Monochromatic photographs add a timeless quality to an image. With the help of social media, Saudi Arabia is in the spotlight as outsiders finally look in. (Supplied)
Updated 22 min 5 sec ago

British-Nigerian photographer gaining popularity in the Saudi art scene for her black and white photographs of KSA

Monochromatic photographs add a timeless quality to an image. With the help of social media, Saudi Arabia is in the spotlight as outsiders finally look in. (Supplied)
  • British-Nigerian photographer gaining popularity in the Saudi art scene for her black and white photographs of the Kingdom’s varied architecture, cultural scene, street life and more

JEDDAH: With the thousands of pictures coming out of Saudi Arabia in full color these days, it is refreshing to find calm in monochromatic photographs, especially when they have been snapped by expats who see beauty through a lens.
Monochromatic photographs add a timeless quality to an image. With the help of social media, Saudi Arabia is in the spotlight as outsiders finally look in.
British-Nigerian photographer Folake Abbas, a lecturer teaching academic writing and research methods to engineering students at Jeddah’s King Abdul Aziz University since 2013, has been taking photographs for as long as she can remember, and is gaining popularity in the Saudi art scene for her black and white photographs of the Kingdom’s varied architecture, cultural scene, street life and more.
She started taking photographs in the Kingdom “almost immediately after I arrived in Jeddah. A friend took me to Al-Balad and I fell in love with the place immediately, and I’ve had a very strong connection to Al-Balad ever since,” she told Arab News.

I will always remember Saudi Arabia with a lot of fondness, for it was here that I discovered myself as a photographer.

Folake Abbas

“A lot of people there know me because I take their photographs most of the time — it’s a place that I’m drawn to and that I feel very comfortable photographing. I’ve been there many times and have taken thousands and thousands of photographs to attest to that,” she added.
Abbas has developed her style through the years, experimenting with different tones of gray and shadows ever since she, alongside a group of fellow Nigerian photographers while visiting home, challenged each other to switch from colored to monochrome as an experiment for the whole of 2019, participating in the hashtag #2019ayearinblackandwhite on Instagram, and she’s never looked back.
She told Arab News that she’s been inspired by some of the greatest black and white photographers of all time such as Ansel Adams, Vivian Maier, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Mary Ellen Mark and Dorothea Lange.

HIGHLIGHT

Abbas has developed her style through the years, experimenting with different tones of gray and shadows ever since she, alongside a group of fellow Nigerian photographers while visiting home, challenged each other to switch from colored to monochrome as an experiment for the whole of 2019, participating in the hashtag #2019ayearinblackandwhite on Instagram, and she’s never looked back.

With time, she began wondering about what more the Kingdom has to offer and what hidden gems can be discovered. She’s frequented nearby Taif, Dammam and a few other cities throughout the years but it was only after the coronavirus disease pandemic hit did she realize she needed to see more.
“I hadn’t really moved around that much, it wasn’t until last year after the lockdown was lifted, knowing I couldn’t leave the country I thought, you know what? this is my time to start to explore Saudi Arabia, there’s something more for it and I’ve got to get around,” she said. “The idea of having to stay cooped up in my apartment for the whole summer was just something I wasn’t ready to entertain.”
She then started traveling around the Kingdom as a conscious decision, booking trips, connecting with people, and taking different tours.
“When you live in a concrete jungle, there isn’t much greenery around here, and it’s very rugged, you just have no idea of what a country looks like. It’s not until you hit the road and go deep into a valley or around a bendy road such as in Taif that you really get to appreciate the country that you live in,” said Abbas.
She said it was in Saudi Arabia that she identified as a photographer the most. “I will always remember Saudi Arabia with a lot of fondness, for it was here that I discovered myself as a photographer. As I mentioned, I’ve always taken photographs but being in Saudi Arabia really solidified that for me. All I want to do is take photographs here, that’s all I want to do.”

Monochromatic photographs add a timeless quality to an image. With the help of social media, Saudi Arabia is in the spotlight as outsiders finally look in. (Supplied)

Folake participated in two group exhibitions, the first in November 2017 in Jeddah, and January 2021 in Riyadh and has had three solo exhibitions — October 2018, December 2019, both in Jeddah and the third in Riyadh in February 2020.
She visited AlUla in March and said the artwork she composed there is the closest to her heart, highlighting that it is a majestic and timeless place.
“What I love about the photos that I took there is the fact that the whole place itself sort of makes you feel like you are in a time that is long forgotten and so to be in this place that is absolutely dripping with so much history going back thousands and thousands of years, to be in that space in itself was nothing short of spectacular. The photos that I took and loved the most (were of) the tomb in Hegra; it’s just a majestic building.”
She said she experienced Saudi hospitality firsthand throughout her adventures in the Kingdom and highlighted their polite traits.
“I’m very impressed as to how open the people I meet when I travel are. They will give you directions, they will get people to come and help you, they will even take you to where you want to go,” she said. “That is really endearing to me.”


Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone launched toward Saudi Arabia’s Khamis Mushait

Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone launched toward Saudi Arabia’s Khamis Mushait
Updated 31 July 2021

Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone launched toward Saudi Arabia’s Khamis Mushait

Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone launched toward Saudi Arabia’s Khamis Mushait
  • All futile attempts to target civilians have been confronted and thwarted, the coalition said

RIYADH: The Arab coalition intercepted and destroyed a booby-trapped drone launched by the Houthi militia toward Khamis Mushait, Saudi Arabia on Saturday. 

All futile attempts to target civilians have been confronted and thwarted, the coalition said. 

The coalition said on Friday that it had thwarted a Houthi drone attack on a Saudi commercial ship.

The Houthis continue to threaten global shipping lines, the coalition said after the attack.

The general secretary of the Council of Arab Interior Ministers and the Bahraini foreign ministry condemned the attack on the ship.


Saudi Arabia announces 11 more COVID-19 deaths

Saudi Arabia announces 11 more COVID-19 deaths
Updated 31 July 2021

Saudi Arabia announces 11 more COVID-19 deaths

Saudi Arabia announces 11 more COVID-19 deaths
  • The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom has increased to 506,089
  • A total of 8,237 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced 11 deaths from COVID-19 and 1,146 new infections on Saturday.
Of the new cases, 243 were recorded in Riyadh, 209 in the Eastern Province, 196 in Makkah, 84 in Asir, 79 in Jazan, 64 in Madinah, 56 in Hail, 53 in Najran, 34 in Al-Baha, 33 in the Northern Borders region, 19 in Tabuk, and eight in Al-Jouf.
The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom increased to 506,089 after 1,086 more patients recovered from the virus.
A total of 8,237 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far.
Over 26.6 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine have been administered in the Kingdom to date.


Saudi minister: Culture will be driving force for sustainable world

Saudi Culture Minister Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan at a meeting of G20 culture ministers in Rome. (SPA)
Saudi Culture Minister Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan at a meeting of G20 culture ministers in Rome. (SPA)
Updated 31 July 2021

Saudi minister: Culture will be driving force for sustainable world

Saudi Culture Minister Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan at a meeting of G20 culture ministers in Rome. (SPA)
  • Italian undersecretary for culture praised Saudi approach to culture as ‘innovative and proactive’

ROME: Culture will be the driving force for a more sustainable world and a more prosperous future for all nations, Saudi Culture Minister Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan said at a meeting of G20 culture ministers in Rome.

He took part as vice president of the G20 Ministerial Meeting of Culture organized by the Italian government, which chairs the G20 this year.

It represents the culmination of the Sherpa Cultural Track within the framework of the G20 agenda, a track that was created during the Kingdom’s assumption of the summit’s presidency in 2020.

The current presidency has identified five priorities for the Sherpa Cultural Track meetings for the year 2021: cultural and creative industries as key drivers of sustainability and growth, protection of cultural heritage, addressing climate change through culture, capacity-building through training and education, and digital transformation from a cultural perspective.

During the meeting, Prince Badr expressed appreciation to Italian Minister for Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism Dario Franceschini.

The prince also praised the efforts of the Italian presidency in building on the commitments of the first joint meeting of culture ministers, which resulted in laying the foundations for “fruitful cooperation” among the members of the G20 in order to promote culture as a development engine and a key factor in prosperity.

He then reviewed the Kingdom’s “continuous efforts” to preserve cultural heritage, noting that Saudi Arabia has made great strides to this end with the registration of six sites on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

He also stressed the Kingdom’s commitment to promoting international dialogue on the role of culture in mitigating the effects of climate change, contributing to a re-imagining of the relationship between cultural policymaking and environmental sustainability, launching research initiatives and exploring the vast potential of digitization in cultural sectors to increase their contribution to economic growth.

Prince Badr’s remarks were well received by Franceschini, who also expressed his gratitude to his Saudi counterpart for the “outstanding work in the G20 presidency” and repeated the G20 pledge to “continue to support culture and workers in the sector.” He cited culture as a “great factor of growth” and one that leads to the “creation of opportunities for the new generations and the most vulnerable categories.”

“The Rome Declaration of the Ministers of Culture, unanimously approved, is made up of 32 qualifying points. In the document, very strong expressions appear on the fight against discrimination, on the defense of human rights and on the enhancement of diversity,” Franceschini added during the session.

“The Saudi approach on culture is definitely interesting as it is an innovative and proactive one.  And proactivity and innovation are definitely what is needed most in this difficult period,” Italian Undersecretary for Culture Lucia Borgonzoni told Arab News at the end of the meeting, whose plenary session was held in the spectacular scenario of the Coliseum.

“Like Italy, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia sees cultural and artistic heritage as drivers for economic development but also as a way of preserving identities and opening up to other cultures,” she added.