Saudi Arabia to limit Hajj pilgrimage this year to 60,000 citizens and residents
Decision made due to the coronavirus pandemic
Updated 20 min 50 sec ago
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. The Hajj begins 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.”
A deputy to the Hajj minister meanwhile said that Saudi Arabia found great understanding from Muslim countries over the decision to limit this year’s pilgrimage participants.
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation has welcomed Saudi Arabia’s decision to limit Hajj2021 to pilgrims from within the Kingdom.
Saudi Foreign Ministry launches e-service to extend visitor visa validity
Updated 12 June 2021
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
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
Updated 12 June 2021
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.
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.
• 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.
New Saudi fashion forum to launch next week with live event in New York and Riyadh
The Kingdom’s Fashion Commission has redesigned the groundbreaking Fashion Futures initiative as an interactive digital platform
The inaugural event, Fashion Futures Live: Moving Towards Sustainability, Diversity and Innovation, takes place on June 17
Updated 12 June 2021
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Fashion Commission has announced a new digital initiative that will launch next week with an event that will be broadcast live from Riyadh and New York.
Fashion Futures, which was introduced in 2019 as the first event dedicated to the fashion sector in the Kingdom, will be relaunched as a digital platform on June 17 with Fashion Futures Live: Moving Towards Sustainability, Diversity and Innovation.
The event, which will take place simultaneously in the Kingdom and the US, will be streamed online to participants through a specially designed, interactive virtual platform. It is being presented in cooperation with Fashinnovation, a global platform for sustainability, innovation and entrepreneurship in fashion.
The organizers of Fashion Futures says its aim is “to bring together fashion’s most inspiring leaders, digital distributors and design mavericks for unprecedented conversations surrounding innovation and sustainability.”
Notable international speakers due to appear at the event include: Susan Rockefeller, the president and trustee of Oceana, a non-profit marine-conservation foundation; Rebecca Minkoff, a fashion designer and author of “Fearless: The New Rules for Unlocking Creativity, Courage, and Success;” Oskar Metsavaht, an environmental activist and founder of fashion brand Osklen; Helen Aboah, the CEO of luxury lifestyle brand Urban Zen; and Abrima Erwiah, co-founder of Studio One Eighty Nine, a social enterprise that promotes and curates African fashion.
The discussions will cover topics such as diversity, sustainable-development goals, entrepreneurship and innovation in the fashion industry. They will be moderated by Fashinnovation co-founder Jordana Guimaraes from New York City, and Taghrid Alhowish, a TV presenter and producer from Dubai.
“We are honored to host some of the world’s greatest minds in business sustainability to discuss the pressing issues we are facing today, especially the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic,” said Burak Cakmak, CEO of the Fashion Commission.
“And since there is no sector that has not been affected by it, virtual platforms such as Fashion Futures enable discussions to break down barriers by engaging experts from all over the world in this critical dialogue, and by collaborating and exchanging ideas we can draw on a wide range of expertise and strive toward a sustainable global fashion industry.”
He said that Saudi Arabia can serve as an example of how to build an innovative, sustainable and appropriate fashion sector, locally and internationally. By working with innovators in the sector, attracting retail experiences and establishing partnerships for education, business development and entrepreneurship, he added, the Kingdom will be able to develop the processes and brands of local businesses to improve them in line with international best practices.
In addition to broadcasting talks and discussions, the Fashion Futures platform will also offer training courses and workshops, with the aim of providing a fertile environment for the exchange of knowledge, innovation and ideas. Another live event is scheduled to take place in December in Riyadh.
The Fashion Commission is one of 11 Saudi cultural bodies established in February last year by the Ministry of Culture to oversee the development and success of cultural sub-sectors.
With the Fashion Futures initiative, the commission aims to lead the way in achieving a more globally sustainable fashion sector, in addition to developing the local fashion industry.
Islamic organizations hail ‘Declaration of peace in Afghanistan’
Officials and groups praise the Muslim World League for organizing the historic conference, and Saudi Arabia for hosting it in Makkah
Updated 12 June 2021
RIYADH: Diplomats and leading officials from Islamic organizations on Friday praised the historic “Declaration of peace in Afghanistan” conference for paving the way for a solution to the long-running crisis in the country.
The conference, hosted in Makkah on Thursday by the Muslim World League (MWL) under the auspices of Saudi Arabia, brought together for the first time senior Afghan and Pakistani scholars, along with government ministers from the two countries, in an effort to help bring about reconciliation among the people of Afghanistan.
The participants offered their support for negotiations between the warring factions in the country and rejected all acts of extremism.
“This historic announcement reflects the great efforts made by the Kingdom (of Saudi Arabia), as the current president of the Islamic Summit, and its pivotal role in reconciliation among the parties in the Islamic countries,” said Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen, secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
He added that he values the work of the MWL that led to Thursday’s declaration and an agreement to find a lasting and comprehensive solution that will support the process of peace, reconciliation, stability, progress and prosperity in Afghanistan.
The Islamic Broadcasting Union expressed its appreciation for the pivotal role Saudi Arabia has played in helping to spread peace and stability in the Islamic world. It also praised the efforts of the MWL to find solutions.
Sayed Jalal Karim, the former Afghan ambassador to Saudi Arabia, told Arab News: “The peace conference was very fruitful for peace and stability in Afghanistan. It came at a very good time that will help to further strengthen relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“There is a role for Ulemas (Muslim scholars) for peace in Afghanistan. And the senior scholars have gathered to sign the historic declaration of peace in order to resolve the crisis.”
• Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen, secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), said that he values the work of the MWL that led to Thursday’s declaration and an agreement to find a lasting and comprehensive solution that will support the process of peace, reconciliation, stability, progress and prosperity in Afghanistan.
• The Council of Senior Scholars, Saudi Arabia’s highest religious body, also welcomed the outcome of the conference. It called on all warring parties to be reasonable, abide by the declaration, cease hostilities and engage in peace talks.
He noted that the speeches given during the conference by government ministers from Afghanistan and Pakistan were very measured and balanced, which he said reflected their sincerity and support for finding a solution to the crisis in Afghanistan through negotiation.
The final statement from the conference “did not make any accusation against any party,” he added, “it only stressed peace, solidarity and bringing Afghans together.”
Earlier, Ahmed Javed Mujadadi, Afghanistan’s current ambassador to Saudi Arabia, emphasized the symbolic importance of holding the conference in Makkah, in the presence of senior scholars, saying that the Kingdom has never failed Afghanistan and is working to establish security and peace in the country. He added that the event reflected a message of brotherhood, love and peace.
Shafiq Samim, the permanent representative of Afghanistan to the OIC, said that the country has been suffering from the effects of war for four decades.
The Council of Senior Scholars, Saudi Arabia’s highest religious body, also welcomed the outcome of the conference. It called on all warring parties to be reasonable, abide by the declaration, cease hostilities and engage in peace talks.