Worshippers’ safety is Saudi Arabia’s top priority, says Hajj minister

Hajj and Umrah Minister Dr. Mohammed Saleh Benten. (AFP)
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Updated 20 October 2020

Worshippers’ safety is Saudi Arabia’s top priority, says Hajj minister

  • Benten said the gradual resumption of Umrah was taken after studying the global situation

JEDDAH: Saudi Hajj and Umrah Minister Dr. Mohammed Saleh Benten said on Monday health, safety, and security of worshippers are at the top of the government’s priorities.
Speaking at an online seminar titled “Umrah amid simple procedures and strict precaution,” he said the Saudi authorities are making concerted efforts to serve worshippers without compromising on their safety. Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, head of the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques and Deputy Hajj Minister Dr. Abdulfattah Mashat also attended the seminar.
“All government entities have been collectively working to ensure that Umrah pilgrims have registered with the Tawakkalna app. They follow up to make sure that visitors have not recently mixed with anyone who has coronavirus or developed any COVID-19 symptoms,” Benten said.
Benten said the gradual resumption of Umrah was taken after studying the global situation. He said the reintroduction of limits on Umrah pilgrims cannot be ruled out. He said it all depended on the number of infections around the world.
“We are in close contact with the Health Ministry, and if we detect any danger, we will immediately change our plans. However, we may increase the numbers of visitors if we witness a drop in COVID-19 cases,” he added.
The minister concluded that opening Umrah for international visitors would be an extraordinary decision. “No country has so far announced to receive such a huge number of visitors during the pandemic. Once approved, Saudi Arabia will be the only country to take such an initiative.”
Al-Sudais highlighted the measures taken to help pilgrims perform rituals in a safe environment without any hassles.


Hybrid learning is the future, says Saudi deputy minister of education

Updated 34 min 52 sec ago

Hybrid learning is the future, says Saudi deputy minister of education

  • Al-Sudairy said the ministry adopted online education systems to ensure the continuity of education, and protect students and teachers from contracting the virus

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s deputy minister of education has highlighted hybrid learning as the “path to the future.”

Dr. Mohammed Al-Sudairy said distance or e-learning should no longer be viewed simply as a response to emergencies but as a strategic option for the future.

He was speaking at a workshop titled “Measurement of operational efficiency of college education in the light of COVID-19” organized by King Faisal University.

Highlighting measures taken by Saudi education authorities in the wake of the pandemic, Al-Sudairy said the ministry adopted online education systems to ensure the continuity of education, and protect students and teachers from contracting the virus.

“The decision ensured social distancing and the quality of education,” he said, adding that the ministry harnessed all its capabilities to act quickly.

Al-Sudairy said that online education began for all educational grades at the same time. The ministry achieved great results as students and teachers continued to interact online in a safe environment and without any loss to the academic year.

The ministry, public and private universities, colleges, and the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation were able to shift to online education within one day of the decision to suspend physical attendance at school, he said.

Adapting to the virtual reality ensured the needs of teachers were met, while also increasing operational efficiency of university education and higher education.

Al-Sudairy said the online-learning system is not new. “Universities started making investments in e-learning in 2007,” he added.

The deputy minister called for the adoption of modern technologies and enhancement of teachers’ capabilities in terms of presenting interactive content on electronic platforms.