Saudi experts set to uncover secrets of ancient trail to Makkah

Saudi experts set to uncover secrets of ancient trail to Makkah
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Recently, a series of excavation sites have been built on the trail, specifically in the Hail region. (Supplied)
Saudi experts set to uncover secrets of ancient trail to Makkah
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Recently, a series of excavation sites have been built on the trail, specifically in the Hail region. (Supplied)
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Updated 15 March 2021

Saudi experts set to uncover secrets of ancient trail to Makkah

Saudi experts set to uncover secrets of ancient trail to Makkah
  • The path was once common trade route in pre-Islamic era and was later used by worshippers following the spread of Islam

RIYADH: With some of Saudi Arabia’s hidden history still waiting to be discovered underneath the sands, the secrets of one ancient trail are being uncovered with help from archaeologists, one rock at a time.

The Zubaida Trail, also known as the Kufi pilgrimage route, is a historic trail that stretches more than 1,600 km from Kufa in Iraq to Makkah. The ancient path was once a common trade route in the pre-Islamic era and was later used by worshippers following the spread of Islam.
Recently, a series of excavation sites have been built on the trail, specifically in the Hail region. Archaeologists are set to uncover the elaborately engineered route that once served thousands of pilgrims each year.
The Saudi Ministry of Tourism recently gave the green light for archaeologists from the University of Hail, along with several foreign experts, to begin exploration and excavation on sites in Fayd and Al-Bayyaith.




The university’s archaeology department has conducted excavations on rock engravings in the area,  and uncovered work that dates back to the Bronze Age.

Dr. Khalil Al-Ibrahim, rector of the University of Hail, told Arab News that the Department of Tourism and Archeology at the university had signed several agreements with the Ministry of Tourism to explore the untapped archaeological sites in the region.




Dr. Khalil Al-Ibrahim Rector, University of Hail

“Many of the Islamic cities and archaeological sites on the Zubaida Trail in Hail have not been explored and excavated. There is an abundance of information and archaeological remains hidden underneath the area,” said Al-Ibrahim. “Different archaeological sites, including heritage cities, were discovered in the past, in addition to rock engravings that date back 10,000 years, burial mounds, wells, rock statues, pottery, glass, minerals and currencies.”

Initial explorations and surveys were recently undertaken in Hail in collaboration with the Hail Region Heritage and Tourism Office, which represents the ministry. The university’s department is now working with its counterpart at King Saud University on excavation work in the ancient city of Fayd. 

FASTFACT

Named after Zubaida bint Jafar Al-Mansour, the wife of Abbasid Ruler Haroun Al-Rasheed. The Zubaida Trail runs from Kufa, Iraq to Makkah, and was one of the key routes for Hajj pilgrims and traders during the Abbasid dynasty. Caliphs at the time constructed water tanks, wells and minarets along the trail, eventually expanding the route for pilgrims and travelers.

Senior students at both departments are also receiving training at the sites, Al-Ibrahim said. Several foreign archaeologists, including Australians, have expressed a desire to work on the sites in Hail, he added.

Al-Ibrahim said that the Saudi government has attached great importance to archaeology, and has revamped the Kingdom’s heritage law and preservation programs to save ancient sites.
Hail boasts important archaeological sites that date back to different historical periods, including the pre-Islamic age, with ancient tools, structures, burial mounds and engravings belonging to the Thamud civilization being discovered, he added.
“I don’t exaggerate when I say that Hail’s archaeology is more unique and different than that which is found in other regions of the Kingdom, especially rock engravings, which are abundant and copious in Hail, and are similar to museums that give you a peek into ancient history. Some of the sites were registered with UNESCO, such as Jubbah and Al-Shuwaymis, which are replete with rock engravings,” Al-Ibrahim said.
The university’s archaeology department has conducted excavations on rock engravings in the area, and uncovered work that dates back to the Bronze Age. The discovery is thought to be the first of its kind in the Arabian Peninsula.
Though excavation work on Fayd is in its eighth year, university archaeologists recently received state-of-the-art equipment and a laboratory to continue exploring, analyzing engravings and conducting research in greater detail.
The Saudi government has also set up archaeological research centers, and drafted laws to facilitate the work of foreign experts in the Kingdom. More than 20 foreign projects are now working in Saudi Arabia to uncover the Kingdom’s rich history.
Al-Ibrahim, who earned his Ph.D. from Durham University in the UK, said: “Archaeology requires a collective effort and working with foreign archaeology missions because it brings academic benefits to students and professors alike, helping them hone their skills.
“The University of Hail is keen on giving students a chance to work with foreign archaeology missions. The department will sign soon a collaboration agreement with the Australian archaeology mission for this purpose.”
“One of the requirements for graduation is having experience in archaeology excavations and exploration. That is why the department sends students for training for a full semester at Fayd, where they get to know about surveying, restoration, writing reports, and other skills under the supervision of experts that are well versed in ancient and Islamic archaeology.
“The university also allows students to take part in training courses offered by foreign missions on exploration and excavation.”

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Saudi Arabia announces 10 more COVID-19 deaths, 27.3m vaccines given to date

The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom increased to 508,994 after 1,620 more patients recovered from the virus. (SPA/File Photo)
The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom increased to 508,994 after 1,620 more patients recovered from the virus. (SPA/File Photo)
Updated 02 August 2021

Saudi Arabia announces 10 more COVID-19 deaths, 27.3m vaccines given to date

The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom increased to 508,994 after 1,620 more patients recovered from the virus. (SPA/File Photo)
  • A total of 8,259 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far
  • 5 mosques reopened in 3 regions after being sterilized after some people tested positive for COVID-19

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced 10 deaths from COVID-19 and 1,063 new infections on Monday.

Of the new cases, 244 were recorded in Makkah, 217 in Riyadh, 152 in the Eastern Province, 108 in Asir, 88 in Jazan, 70  in Madinah, 45 in Najran, 44 in Hail, 20 in the Northern Borders region, 18 in Tabuk, 17 in Al-Baha, and five in Al-Jouf.

The Ministry of Health confirmed 1,063 new cases reported in the Kingdom in the previous 24 hours, meaning 527, people have now contracted the disease. 
Of the total number of cases, 10,624 remain active and 1,3434 in critical condition.

Of the new cases, 244 were recorded in Makkah, 217 in Riyadh, 152 in the Eastern Province, 108 in Asir, 88 in Jazan, 70  in Madinah, 45 in Najran, 44 in Hail, 20 in the Northern Borders region, 18 in Tabuk, 17 in Al-Baha, and five in Al-Jouf.

The health ministry also announced that 1,620 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 527,877.
Over 27.3 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine have been administered in the Kingdom to date.

The ministry urged all students to quickly take the first dose of the vaccine so they may take the second dose before the start of the academic year.
The Ministry of Islamic Affairs reopened five 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 1,928 within 177 days.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected over 199 million people globally and the death toll has reached around 4.24 million.


Saudi Arabia to fine air passengers up to SR500k for COVID-19 travel ban breaches

Saudi Arabia to fine air passengers up to SR500k for COVID-19 travel ban breaches
Updated 02 August 2021

Saudi Arabia to fine air passengers up to SR500k for COVID-19 travel ban breaches

Saudi Arabia to fine air passengers up to SR500k for COVID-19 travel ban breaches
  • Similar penalties would also apply to operators or owners of the means of transportation

RIYADH: The Saudi Public Prosecution office has warned it will impose fines of up to SR500,000 ($133,323) on passengers breaching travel ban restrictions by boarding flights to countries hit by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Similar penalties would also apply to operators or owners of the means of transportation.

In a tweet on Sunday, officials added that severe punitive measures would be taken against travelers who failed to disclose they had visited any countries listed on the Kingdom’s COVID-19 travel ban list.


Saudi HR ministry launches tough measures for unvaccinated workers

A nurse speaks to a man before administering the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine as part of a vaccination campaign by the Saudi health ministry, in Riyadh. (AFP file photo)
A nurse speaks to a man before administering the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine as part of a vaccination campaign by the Saudi health ministry, in Riyadh. (AFP file photo)
Updated 02 August 2021

Saudi HR ministry launches tough measures for unvaccinated workers

A nurse speaks to a man before administering the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine as part of a vaccination campaign by the Saudi health ministry, in Riyadh. (AFP file photo)
  • Authorities instruct all institutions to require proof of immunity against COVID-19 from employees

JEDDAH: Unvaccinated employees within the Saudi public, private, and nonprofit sectors will have their leave days deducted until they receive a COVID-19 jab, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development has warned.

The ministry issued a statement on Sunday clarifying procedures to deal with unvaccinated employees following the Ministry of Interior’s instruction for institutions to limit entry to vaccinated people after Aug 1.
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in Saudi Arabia has increased ahead of the deadline, with about 350,000 doses being administered per day, with a total vaccination rate of about 78 doses per 100 people in the Kingdom.
As a result, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development instructed all institutions in the Kingdom to require proof of immunity against COVID-19 from employees and workers, as approved by the Ministry of Health on the Tawakkalna mobile app.
The gradual plan to deal with unvaccinated employees begins with directing them to work remotely, according to the work need. In case remote work is not beneficial for the institution by Aug. 9, the employee will be granted leave deducted from their official leave balance.

HIGHLIGHT

The gradual plan to deal with unvaccinated employees begins with directing them to work remotely, according to the work need. In case remote work is not beneficial for the institution by Aug. 9, the employee will be granted leave deducted from their official leave balance.

As for the public sector, employees will consume their eligible leave days according to their legally approved conditions and requirements. However, if those requirements are not met or the employee has exhausted their leave balance, then absence days must be deducted from the balance of regular leaves or will be considered as an unpaid excused absence.
In the private and nonprofit sectors, employers will allow unvaccinated employees to go on official leave that will be calculated from their annual leave.
In case the annual leave balance is exhausted, employees will be granted unpaid leave, and their work contract will be considered suspended during the period once it exceeds 20 days, unless the two parties agree otherwise.
In case of disagreement with a worker, the employer shall deal with the consequences according to the procedures approved by law. The employee must be informed about decisions issued in this regard.
However, the ministry said that the new regulations do not apply to people who are excluded from taking the vaccine according to the Tawakkalna app.


Only fully jabbed students can return to school, says Saudi Education Ministry

Only fully jabbed students can return to school, says Saudi Education Ministry
Updated 02 August 2021

Only fully jabbed students can return to school, says Saudi Education Ministry

Only fully jabbed students can return to school, says Saudi Education Ministry
  • Primary, kindergarten pupils will return to classrooms once 70% of population has been double-jabbed or October 30

JEDDAH: Only students who have been fully jabbed against COVID-19 can go back to school once the academic year begins on Aug. 29, the Kingdom’s Ministry of Education said on Sunday.
High school and middle school students who have completed their vaccination program in Saudi Arabia are set to return to the classroom by the end of the month.
Elementary and preschool students will be exempt from returning until 70 percent herd immunity has been achieved through double dosage.
Saudi Arabia has so far administered more than 27.2 million vaccine doses and 8.25 million people have received both shots, making up 23.7 percent of the country’s 34.8 million population.
The ministry said appointments would be provided for staff and eligible students to get vaccinated in time for the start of the school year.
At Sunday’s press conference, Ministry of Health spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly urged pregnant women to get jabbed. He reaffirmed the vaccines’ safety and efficacy and said a large number of unvaccinated pregnant women around the world had been hospitalized with COVID-19.

FASTFACT

The total number of coronavirus cases in KSA reached 526,814.

He also called on doctors to do their part in communicating the importance of COVID-19 vaccines to pregnant women. “You aren’t just protecting one life, you’re protecting two,” he added.
Exemptions, including cases of medically proven hypersensitivity to the vaccines or one of their components, are determined through reports issued by the ministry.
Ministry of Commerce spokesman Abdulrahman Al-Husain said that more than 1 million commercial establishments had followed health precautions to only admit immune customers on the first day that all residents in the Kingdom were required to have had at least one dose or have recovered from COVID-19 in order to enter commercial, government, private and public establishments.
On Sunday there were 1,084 new cases recorded in the Kingdom, bringing the total to 526,814.
There were 1,285 new recoveries, taking this total to 507,374, while 12 new deaths were reported, raising the death toll to 8,249. More than 25.12 million PCR tests have been conducted so far.


Saudi military chief meets Bahraini counterpart

Saudi military chief meets Bahraini counterpart
Updated 02 August 2021

Saudi military chief meets Bahraini counterpart

Saudi military chief meets Bahraini counterpart

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Chief of the General Staff Gen. Fayyad bin Hamed Al-Ruwaili received Chief of Staff of Bahrain Defense Force Lt. Gen. Dhiyab bin Saqr Al-Nuaimi, and his accompanying delegation, at King Salman Air Base in Riyadh on Sunday.

During the meeting, they exchanged military views and discussed issues of common interest, stressing the strength of relations and ways to achieve the shared goals of the armed forces of the two countries.

Saudi Deputy Chief of the General Staff Lt. Gen. Mutlaq bin Salem Al-Azima, who is also the acting commander of the joint forces, then accompanied Al-Nuaimi on a visit to the Joint Forces Command and briefed him on the progress of the operations led by the Arab coalition forces to support legitimacy in Yemen.

They also discussed ways to support and enhance these to ensure regional security and stability.

Maj. Gen. Turki bin Bandar bin Abdul Aziz, commander of the Royal Saudi Air Forces, also received Al-Nuaimi in the Air Force Command. During the meeting, they discussed many issues of common interest.