General Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques readies for Ramadan’s last 10 days

General Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques readies for Ramadan’s last 10 days
More than 4,000 workers have been deployed to sanitize and perfume the Grand Mosque. (SPA)
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Updated 01 May 2021

General Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques readies for Ramadan’s last 10 days

General Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques readies for Ramadan’s last 10 days
  • More than 4,000 workers have been deployed to sanitize and perfume the Grand Mosque, which is cleaned 10 times a day

MAKKAH: The General Presidency of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque has increased its round the clock preparations to welcome worshippers and pilgrims during the last 10 days of Ramadan, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
Cleaning and sanitizing has been stepped up to ensure everyone’s safety and protection.
Additional doors have been opened, and there are more regulated entry and exit points, and designated pathways for people with special needs to ease the movement of worshippers and those wishing to perform Umrah.
There is greater distribution of Zamzam water to visitors in the Mataf, the white area immediately around the Kaaba, and the Grand Mosque’s courtyards.
These steps are being taken to meet the requirements of COVID-19 precautionary and preventive measures.
More than 4,000 workers have been deployed to sanitize and perfume the Grand Mosque, which is cleaned 10 times a day.
Over 80,000 liters of sanitizer and 1,600 liters of fragrance are used during each cleaning operation, while more than 500 sensor-equipped hand sanitizer dispensers have been distributed.
Around 200,000 bottles of water are distributed in the Mataf through private vehicles. Water is also distributed or available on the walkway, the funeral prayer hall, the first-floor prayer hall for people with special needs, the King Fahd and King Abdullah expansions, entrances and stairs.
More than 100 observers are stationed at the doors of the Grand Mosque to receive worshippers, direct them to their spots, organize their entry and exit, guide them to prayer halls, and support security officials in guiding worshippers.
Cold water is sprayed out at the mosque’s squares through 250 fans to help cool down air temperatures for worshippers during prayer times.


Saudis return to work after Eid, recall rejuvenating experience

Saudis return to work after Eid, recall rejuvenating experience
Saudis prefer spending their Eid Al-Fitr holiday with family back in their hometowns. (SPA/File)
Updated 18 May 2021

Saudis return to work after Eid, recall rejuvenating experience

Saudis return to work after Eid, recall rejuvenating experience
  • Citizens say ongoing coronavirus disease pandemic has reinforced Saudi society’s connectedness

MAKKAH: After spending the Eid holiday with families in their hometowns, Saudis working in the private and public sectors returned to the cities and resumed their duties on Tuesday.

Every year, major Saudi cities wear a deserted look during Eid Al-Fitr due to the mass exodus of people who travel to every nook and corner of the Kingdom to spend their holiday with their loved ones.
Like elsewhere around the world, for the second year in a row Saudis had to celebrate Eid Al-Fitr amid strict health measures imposed due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
The first working day after the holiday season is usually tough, but Saudis who returned to their workplaces also reminisced about the good old days of celebrating Eid without any restrictions.

Eid in Saudi Arabia is unparalleled, and it is impossible to fully enjoy the holiday away from home.

Majid Al-Thaqafi

Mohammed Hassan Al-Fifi, an English teacher in Abha whose family lives in the Al-Suhaili neighborhood in Taif, said that most family reunions were virtual this year, as protocols had changed due to the pandemic. He was able to enjoy time with his family back home, however, while following precautionary measures.
“The celebrations are indeed different now, but this is still an annual tradition we all seek to maintain by exchanging gifts, visiting relatives and neighbors, bringing happiness to the elderly while checking on their health, enjoying traditional meals, and reviving the popular games Saudi Arabia is known for,” he said.
Anwar Moulaybar, a health administration specialist at King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Madinah, said he felt an “indescribable happiness” while visiting his parents in Makkah for Eid.

A young Saudi boy celebrates Eid in traditional attire. (SPA/File)

“Seeing friends, relatives, and neighbors I couldn’t previously see due to the pandemic restrictions was so refreshing,” he told Arab News.
After a year filled with pain, challenges, and sacrifices for health professionals, Moulaybar noted, all the sectors ultimately proved their competence, excellence, and readiness.
“Saudi Arabia has become an iconic example for the whole world,” he said, adding that he was proud to belong to the cadre of health personnel whose lives were at risk daily due to the pandemic.

Seeing friends, relatives, and neighbors I couldn’t previously see due to the pandemic restrictions was so refreshing.

Anwar Moulaybar

Despite the struggles that persist, he said, Saudi Arabia has made significant strides in its vaccination campaign. He also remarked on how the pandemic reinforced Saudi society’s connectedness and demonstrated the power of international effort to confront crises collectively.   
Student Majid Al-Thaqafi, who recently received his bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from a university in Dublin, returned to the Kingdom a few months ago.
He told Arab News that Eid in Saudi Arabia is “unparalleled,” and it is impossible to fully enjoy the holiday away from home.
“This level of warmth and happiness is only found in the Kingdom,” he said, adding that one of the most important aspects of Eid is its power to solidify social bonds.
The occasion also presents an opportunity for forgiveness and a chance to reinforce the values and traditions that Saudis are historically known for, Al-Thaqafi said.


South Asian expats in Saudi Arabia cancel home trips over virus concerns

South Asian expats in Saudi Arabia cancel home trips over virus concerns
Entrance and departure from the Kingdom’s land, sea and air ports was resumed on Monday for vaccinated Saudis. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 18 May 2021

South Asian expats in Saudi Arabia cancel home trips over virus concerns

South Asian expats in Saudi Arabia cancel home trips over virus concerns
  • “Home trip cancellation will make my family depressed because most of my family members, relatives, and friends are in India and we are missing them"

RIYADH: Dismayed by the surge in coronavirus cases, South Asian expatriates working in Saudi Arabia are canceling plans to visit their home countries.
Since some countries are not on the fly list, there is fear that a second or third wave could hit their countries with the risk of closures and flight bans.
Last April, India crossed a grim milestone with more than 400,000 infected in one day and more than 270,000 people lost to the deadly coronavirus so far, with a devastating surge of new infections tearing through cities and rural areas alike, overwhelming healthcare systems that are already on the brink of collapse.
India has had more than 24.6 million cases so far and broke a global record with more than 412,262 new cases on May 6.
With fears mounting amid a surge in COVID cases, Dr. Manzer H. Siddiqui, an Indian working as an associate professor at King Saud University, told Arab News: “As we know, India is badly affected by a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, I, therefore, have canceled the return flight to home for summer vacation and prefer to stay in the Kingdom.”
“Home trip cancellation will make my family depressed because most of my family members, relatives, and friends are in India and we are missing them. During this pandemic, some have lost their loved ones; I also lost my aunt. My heartfelt condolences to my extended family in India and I hope one day the whole world will come out of this pandemic, fear, and anxiety,” he said.
Dr. Kifaya Ifthikar, a Sri Lankan doctor in Riyadh, told Arab News: “Recently in Sri Lanka, there have been strict restrictions being reinstated due to rising cases. Schools have been closed after a brief opening, certain areas are under lockdown and fear has started to brew once again.”
“Not having been on Lankan soil for two consecutive years, now it is mentally taxing for me especially because of being so far away from loved ones and missing out on important life events,” she said.
“Apart from this our neighboring country India is also facing a grave dilemma, and our solidarity and heart goes out to them,” she said.

FASTFACT

Since some countries are not on the fly list, there is fear that a second or third wave could hit their countries with the risk of closures and flight bans.

Ambreen Faiz, a Pakistani writer living in Yanbu, said: “It’s very scary and heartbreaking to notice that this third wave of the coronavirus is affecting my country very badly. Lots of my relatives and friends back home have been affected by it. My husband and I had plans to visit our family in Pakistan but we were advised by our relatives back home to cancel our travel plan.”
“I have not seen my daughter and her little child for years now. Every day I speak with her and her little princess. My daughter wanted me to travel and meet her during this Eid holiday. But the recent wave of the virus scared me a lot. I don’t want to travel for fear of falling victim to this deadly pandemic,” she said.
Another reason is the flight ban by the Saudi government for 20 countries, Pakistan is one of them, she said.
Saudi Arabia suspended entry from 20 countries effective Feb. 3 to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
“I know many families who are stranded in Pakistan due to this travel ban. And, I am also afraid of getting stranded. Because of these reasons me and my husband have decided with a heavy heart to postpone our travel until the situation normalizes,” Ambreen said.
Abdus Sattar from Jessore, Bangladesh, said that it was not advisable to go home amid rising coronavirus cases.
“The recent wave of coronavirus appears to be even more deadly and I have decided to cancel my plans to visit the home country,” he said.


Crown prince: Saudi Arabia investing 1bn this year to help African countries recover from COVID-19

Crown prince: Saudi Arabia investing 1bn this year to help African countries recover from COVID-19
Updated 18 May 2021

Crown prince: Saudi Arabia investing 1bn this year to help African countries recover from COVID-19

Crown prince: Saudi Arabia investing 1bn this year to help African countries recover from COVID-19
  • Mohammed Prince Mohammed said projects will be carried out by the Saudi Fund for Development
  • Prince Mohammed said his country has paid $122 million to combat terror along the African coast

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia will support African countries with investments and loans worth about $1 billion this year to help their economies recover from the COVID-19 pandemic Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman said on Tuesday.

The projects will be carried out by the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD), Prince Mohammed said in a six-minute televised speech to a debt relief conference in Paris.

 “Saudi Arabia is one of the countries that supports COVAX and the Kingdom is one of the countries that supports exporting vaccines to developing countries,” he said, in reference to a worldwide initiative aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 jabs.

Last year’s Saudi-hosted G20 Summit launched initiatives to support the African economy while the SFD offered loans to African countries.

He also said the Kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), had invested around $4 billion in the energy, mining, telecoms, food and other sectors in Africa and that it would continue to look for opportunities in other sectors in the continent.

Prince Mohammed said his country has paid $122 million to combat terror along the African coast.

“We are aiming that this summit concludes with solutions to the debts of African countries,” the crown prince said.

Saudi, he added, has offered loans and grants to more than 45 African countries.
Saudi Arabia was among lender counties which met in Paris on Tuesday to find ways of financing African economies hurt by the pandemic and to discuss handling the continent’s billions of dollars in debt.

The summit brought together some 30 African and European heads of state, as well as the heads of global financial institutions such as the IMF and World Bank.

‘Saudi Arabia has announced a Euro 200 million worth initiative to redevelop the African coast’ Prince Mohammed told the attendees.

“The impact of the pandemic on low-income African countries was severe, as it widened the financing gap needed to achieve development goals. It is important to continue joint international efforts to overcome this crisis,” the crown prince said.

He said the Kingdom is currently working closely with its partners at Southern African Development Community and mainly with South Africa to strengthen the capabilities of Mozambique’s security forces to fight extremists and reinforce stability.

Prince Salman said many African countires would be involved in the Kindom’s Green Middle East Initiative, which aims to remove 10 percent of the world’s carbon emissions

Earlier during the conference, IMF member countries agreed to clear Sudan’s arrears to the institution, removing a final hurdle to it obtaining wider relief on external debt of at least $50 billion.

 Saudi Arabia, Sudan’s third-largest creditor with about $4.6 billion in debt, has said it will press strongly for a broad agreement on debt, to help a country emerging from decades of sanctions and isolation under ousted former President Omar Al-Bashir.

 

*With wires


Saudi cultural, heritage centers showcase ancient treasures

Saudi cultural, heritage centers showcase ancient treasures
Ancient clay and stone architectural decorative elements on display at the National Museum in Riyadh. (Supplied)
Updated 19 May 2021

Saudi cultural, heritage centers showcase ancient treasures

Saudi cultural, heritage centers showcase ancient treasures
  • One of the oldest exhibits is “Kalial Wa Demnah,” a book of fables believed to be Indian in origin that was translated into Arabic in the 8th century by Abdullah Ibn Al-Muqaffa

JEDDAH: Saudi museums and cultural organizations celebrated International Museum Day on Tuesday by showcasing the Kingdom’s heritage and treasures to the world.
As many institutions around the world prepare to reopen after being closed for the past year because of the pandemic, the theme of the global event is “The Future of Museums: Recover and Reimagine.”
In keeping with this, the Saudi Ministry of Culture (MoC) marked Museum Day with a virtual concert at the National Museum in Riyadh, which was live-streamed on the ministry’s YouTube channel. The list of performers included Saudi Opera singer Sawsan Al-Bahiti, oud player and singer Abdullah Saad, cellist Mohammed Alguthmi, pianist Daniele Ciminiello and musicians Elvin and Joe Hodson.
Anyone interested in discovering some of the treasures from the National Museum’s collection can visit nationalmuseum.moc.gov.sa/virtualtour/ to take a virtual tour.
Meanwhile, the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies (KFCRIS) launched an online exhibition titled Wahj: Adornment of the Page. This showcase of the art of illumination and gilding includes 60 examples of various types of Islamic manuscripts that offer insight into this amazing craft.
Rasha Al-Fawaz, head of the Museum Collections Department at the center, told Arab News that what makes the exhibition so special is that it not only displays these precious Islamic manuscripts for the world to see, it also informs and educates visitors about the important features of illumination, and introduces them to some of the most famous calligraphers in Islamic history.
Visit my.matterport.com/show/?m=daj7MSiD3tu to browse the exhibition and view high-resolution images of each manuscript.
One of the oldest exhibits is “Kalial Wa Demnah,” a book of fables believed to be Indian in origin that was translated into Arabic in the 8th century by Abdullah Ibn Al-Muqaffa. Believed to be oldest illuminated copy of the book, the displayed manuscript, once owned by King Faisal, includes 65 colorful and decorative Baghdadi-style images.


Who’s Who: Dr. Ebtisam Mohammed Al-Mathal, secretary of the board of trustees at Imam Abdulrahman bin Faisal University in Dammam

Who’s Who: Dr. Ebtisam Mohammed Al-Mathal, secretary of the board of trustees at Imam Abdulrahman bin Faisal University in Dammam
Dr. Ebtisam Mohammed Al-Mathal. (Supplied)
Updated 19 May 2021

Who’s Who: Dr. Ebtisam Mohammed Al-Mathal, secretary of the board of trustees at Imam Abdulrahman bin Faisal University in Dammam

Who’s Who: Dr. Ebtisam Mohammed Al-Mathal, secretary of the board of trustees at Imam Abdulrahman bin Faisal University in Dammam

Dr. Ebtisam Mohammed Al-Mathal was recently appointed secretary of the board of trustees at Imam Abdulrahman bin Faisal University in Dammam.
In addition to her new responsibilities, she is also the university’s dean of human resources and a professor of parasitology in its science faculty.
It was in the College of Science in Dammam that she began her academic career as a research assistant in 1985 before becoming a lecturer there in 1991 and eventually a professor.
She gained a bachelor’s degree in biology and a Ph.D. from the College of Science in Dammam, and a master’s degree from Riyadh’s College of Education.
Al-Mathal has held a number of key positions at Imam Abdulrahman bin Faisal University including as vice dean for administrative development, the science department’s vice dean for quality development and academic accreditation, and head of zoology.
She has also chaired various committees responsible for areas such as graduate studies, examinations, and academic advice, had numerous papers published, participated in scientific and educational conferences regionally and internationally, and regularly takes part in community service initiatives.