Makkah hotels bounce back with price cuts

Makkah hotels bounce back with price cuts
Known to have the highest prices through the year, hotel rooms near the Grand Mosque currently cost between SR250 and SR700. (AFP)
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Updated 07 October 2020

Makkah hotels bounce back with price cuts

Makkah hotels bounce back with price cuts
  • Competitiveness in the sector ‘likely to return by 2023’

MAKKAH: Makkah hotel prices have been slashed to unprecedented levels in the Umrah season, with the price of rooms dropping as low as SR38 ($10) in some areas.

Five-star hotels with a full view of the Grand Mosque in Makkah are getting ready to resume their activity and restore normality to the hotel industry by offering great discounts.

The holy city contains more than 1,400 hotels, which make up more than two third of the accommodation sector in the whole of Saudi Arabia.

Known to have the highest prices through the year, which peak about three times during busy seasons, hotel rooms near the Grand Mosque currently cost between SR250 and SR700 ($77-$187).

A tweet by Hajj and Umrah Minister Dr. Mohammed Saleh Benten, brought attention to central Makkah hotels that have endured through the testing times of the pandemic.

Benten expressed his gratitude and happiness for the striking offers made by Makkah hotels, and described them as safe environments that take health requirements into account.

Abdullah Filali, chairman of the hotel committee at the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told Arab News that the promotions announced by some hotels are a gradual means to revitalize the sector. He said the pricing is just the beginning of a gradual, progressive return to health for the troubled industry.

Filali noted that prices do not reflect employment volume, which fell to the low levels after the pandemic hit. “All hotels had to resort to the state aid ‘SANED,’ to keep their employees and fix their documents,” he said.

FASTFACT

The price of rooms has dropped as low as SR38 in some areas.

He added that only four central hotels had started to come back to life and that the recovery of the accommodation sector will be well underway by October 2021. Competitiveness will return by the end of 2023, Filali said.

The manager of one hotel overlooking central Makkah, Fadel Munqal, said that state efforts to serve Muslims are clear and evident through the protection of pilgrim safety. Steps to resume Umrah were compliant with health and precautionary plans and ensure the protection of health and safety, he added.

“The Kingdom seeks to reach the highest levels of reassurance and readiness for all pilgrims of different nationalities, which will be achieved with the beginning of the third phase of the plan. It will indicate the actual comeback of the accommodation sector and enable pilgrims to experience an integrated spiritual and tourism experience,” Munqal said.

He added that the Kingdom sacrificed economic welfare in a noble move to protect pilgrim safety during Hajj and Umrah.

Munqal said that Saudi Arabia possesses the capabilities to help hotels compete — in compliance with precautionary measures — with the arrival of pilgrims from across the world. He added that Makkah provides Islamic sites, in addition to important historical museums.

Grand Mosque library

The library of Makkah’s Grand Mosque has launched more than 16 initiatives to start welcoming visitors. The library will receive 30 visitors per hour amid strict social distancing measures.

It is considered a beacon of knowledge, covering an area of 1,000 square meters and containing 30,000 books and 5,600 titles.


Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister congratulates UAE on election to UN Security Council during call to counterpart

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister congratulates UAE on election to UN Security Council during call to counterpart
Updated 12 June 2021

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister congratulates UAE on election to UN Security Council during call to counterpart

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister congratulates UAE on election to UN Security Council during call to counterpart
  • Prince Faisal affirmed the Kingdom’s full support for the the UAE
  • The UAE was one of five countries elected on Friday by the UN General Assembly to sit as non-permanent members on the Security Council

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan on Saturday made a phone call to his Emirati counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed to congratulate him on the UAE’s election as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.
During the call, Prince Faisal affirmed his country’s full support for the the UAE, and called for “strengthening joint efforts between the two countries to serve the stability of the region and establish international peace and security,” the Kingdom’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
The UAE was one of five countries elected on Friday by the UN General Assembly to sit as non-permanent members on the Security Council in 2022 and 2023. The others are Brazil, Albania, Gabon and Ghana.


Saudi Arabia records 16 COVID-19 deaths, 1,077 new cases

Saudi Arabia records 16 COVID-19 deaths, 1,077 new cases
Updated 12 June 2021

Saudi Arabia records 16 COVID-19 deaths, 1,077 new cases

Saudi Arabia records 16 COVID-19 deaths, 1,077 new cases
  • The Kingdom said 906 patients recovered in past 24 hours
  • 8 mosques reopened in 3 regions after being sterilized after some people tested positive for coronavirus

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia recorded 16 new COVID-19 related deaths on Saturday, raising the total number of fatalities to 7,553.
The Ministry of Health confirmed 1,077 new confirmed cases reported in the Kingdom in the previous 24 hours, meaning 464,780 people have now contracted the disease. 
Of the total number of cases, 10,267 remain active and 1,562 in critical condition.
According to the ministry, the highest number of cases were recorded in Makkah with 348, followed by the capital Riyadh with 225, the Eastern Province with 149, Asir recorded 97, and Jazan confirmed 70 cases.
The health ministry also announced that 906 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 446,960.

The ministry renewed its call on the public to register to receive the vaccine, and adhere to the measures and abide by instructions.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs reopened eight mosques in three regions after temporarily evacuating and sterilizing them after some people tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the total number of mosques closed and reopened after being sterilized to 1,555 within 126 days.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected over 176 million people globally and the death toll has reached around 3.80 million.


Saudi Arabia to limit Hajj pilgrimage this year to 60,000 citizens and residents

Saudi Arabia to limit Hajj pilgrimage this year to 60,000 citizens and residents
Updated 12 June 2021

Saudi Arabia to limit Hajj pilgrimage this year to 60,000 citizens and residents

Saudi Arabia to limit Hajj pilgrimage this year to 60,000 citizens and residents
  • The decision was made due to the coronavirus pandemic

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia said it will limit registration for this year’s Hajj pilgrimage to citizens and residents of the Kingdom in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Ministries of Health and Hajj announced Saturday that a total of 60,000 pilgrims will be allowed to perform the pilgrimage this year, which will begin mid-July.
It stressed that those wishing to perform Hajj must be free of any chronic diseases, and to be within the ages from 18 to 65 years for those vaccinated against the virus, according to the Kingdom’s vaccination measures. 
Hajj pilgrims should be fully vaccinated, or those who took one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days before, or those who are vaccinated after recovering from coronavirus infection.
The decision is “based on the Kingdom’s constant keenness to enable the guests and visitors at the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque to perform the rituals of Hajj and Umrah,” the ministry said. “The Kingdom puts human health and safety first.”
Meanwhile, a deputy to the Hajj minister said that Saudi Arabia found great understanding from Muslim countries over the decision to limit this year’s pilgrimage participants.
Nayef Al-Hajraf, secretary-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council, praised the “generous care” accorded by King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to serve pilgrims and visitors of the Two Holy Mosques.
He said the decision to limit this year’s pilgrimage stems from the utmost attention that the Kingdom gives to the health and safety of pilgrims.
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Muslim World League (MWL) also welcomed Saudi Arabia’s decision.
Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-​Issa, MWL secretary-general, said that a number of senior Mufti and scholars of the Islamic world also welcomed the decision, adding that Sharia (Islamic) law states that it is imperative to take all safety precautions during such pandemics.
The UAE said it supports the Kingdom in all steps and measures it is taking as part of efforts to combat the pandemic, limit its spread, and preserve the safety and security of pilgrims and society.
Minister of State Khalifa Shaheen Almarar praised the great progress made by the Kingdom in the field of science in combatting COVID-19, saying that Saudi Arabia’s “recent scientific achievements demonstrated the extent of its awareness of the importance of science, which is a key driver in supporting the health sector and facing great challenges.”

Kuwait and Bahrain issued similar statements welcoming the decision.


Saudi Foreign Ministry launches e-service to extend visitor visa validity

Saudi Foreign Ministry launches e-service to extend visitor visa validity
Updated 12 June 2021

Saudi Foreign Ministry launches e-service to extend visitor visa validity

Saudi Foreign Ministry launches e-service to extend visitor visa validity

RIYADH: Saudi ministries have launched an e-service that allows visitors coming to the Kingdom to extend the validity of their unused or expired visitor visas due to a travel ban imposed by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Kingdom will allow a cost-free extension, granted on the directives of King Salman, for those who were suspended from entry to 20 countries previously announced in February.  
The initiative launched by the Saudi foreign and interior ministries and the General Directorate of Passports would allow the extension of visas until July 31, 2021.
Travelers who wish to extend their visitor visa can head to ministry’s e-platform to perform the necessary extension.


Saudi artist’s paintings helping sell luxury Hollywood properties

Saudi artist’s paintings helping sell luxury Hollywood properties
Abdulrahman Hamdi, backed by his mother, his biggest supporter, secured an ‘amazing opportunity’ to work for Premier Stagers, a leading US luxury staging and interior design company. (Supplied)
Updated 12 June 2021

Saudi artist’s paintings helping sell luxury Hollywood properties

Saudi artist’s paintings helping sell luxury Hollywood properties
  • Abdulrahman Hamdi’s artwork has been decorating homes up for sale in the film capital of the world, and some of the residential properties his pieces hang in are on the market for more than $14 million

JEDDAH: A Saudi artist is making a name for himself in Hollywood after his paintings were selected to adorn the walls of some of the famous Los Angeles neighborhood’s most luxurious properties.

Abdulrahman Hamdi’s artwork has been decorating homes up for sale in the film capital of the world, and some of the residential properties his pieces hang in are on the market for more than $14 million.

Every day, one sees something new in an abstract painting and feels more of it.
Abdulrahman Hamdi

Hamdi, backed by his mother, his biggest supporter, secured an “amazing opportunity” to work for Premier Stagers, a leading US luxury staging and interior design company, a breakthrough that has helped to provide a shopwindow for his paintings.
And his American success story does end there: A Los Angeles-based real estate magazine has published one of his works on its front cover, and Vogue Arabia ran an article about Hamdi accompanied by a picture of another of his paintings.
His artistic talents were first spotted by his kindergarten teachers but at elementary school he said students paid more attention to football and his tutors often frowned on his drawings.
Now living in Los Angeles, Hamdi, who gained a master’s degree in law, told Arab News that he had been obsessed with fine art from an early age.
“At the time, my kindergarten peers were waiting for the physical education class, while I was counting hours for the arts class to begin. I used to save up money (to buy painting tools) from the amounts I received from my relatives on Eid occasions.”
Abstractionism slowly began to capture his interest and he started displaying his artwork on social media platforms, such as Instagram, with the hope of one day becoming a professional artist.
“I consider abstract art, with its broad scope, as an interesting art. Every day, one sees something new in an abstract painting and feels more of it,” he said.

HIGHLIGHTS

• At first, Hamdi felt apprehensive about displaying his abstract paintings in public, fears that were soon to be justified as exhibition halls rejected his approaches. But he said the reforms now taking place in Saudi society had changed attitudes and art had been given a raised profile through the support of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and bodies such as the Misk Foundation.

• Hamdi’s first participation in an exhibition came at the Misk Historic Jeddah event in 2017, and the following year he took part in Misk Art, which encouraged artists to promote their cultural identity in their works.

However, in late 2014, Hamdi was involved in a traffic accident that completely changed his outlook on life.
“I was locked up in memories and pains. I even failed to express my feelings in words. I became completely destroyed. I then realized that drawing was the only way to take me out of my sufferings.
“When the unpleasant event was over, colors began to mean something else to me, and I began to deal with them differently,” he added.
At first, he felt apprehensive about displaying his abstract paintings in public, fears that were soon to be justified as exhibition halls rejected his approaches. But he said the reforms now taking place in Saudi society had changed attitudes and art had been given a raised profile through the support of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and bodies such as the Misk Foundation.
Hamdi’s first participation in an exhibition came at the Misk Historic Jeddah event in 2017, and the following year he took part in Misk Art, which encouraged artists to promote their cultural identity in their works.