Saudi Arabia confirms readiness to receive Hajj pilgrims

This file photo shows travellers walking with luggage past a welcome sign at the Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah's King Abdulaziz International Airport. (AFP)
This file photo shows travellers walking with luggage past a welcome sign at the Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah's King Abdulaziz International Airport. (AFP)
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Updated 06 July 2021

Saudi Arabia confirms readiness to receive Hajj pilgrims

This file photo shows travellers walking with luggage past a welcome sign at the Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah's King Abdulaziz International Airport. (AFP)
  • The applications were sorted according to a specific mechanism such as the readiness of the pilgrim physically, taking into account if they had already performed Hajj

MAKKAH: The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has confirmed it is fully prepared for this year’s Hajj season.

Dr. Abdulfattah Mashat, deputy minister of Hajj and Umrah, stressed that the pace of work to ready the Kingdom’s holy sites will increase in the coming days, and all relevant sectors will complete the requirements for receiving pilgrims on time.

“The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has long developed strategic and operational plans related to Hajj activities in cooperation with more than 30 entities, from various private, government and security sectors,” he added.

In an interview broadcast on Riyadh Radio, Mashat said that pilgrim residences at the holy sites are ready, as are gathering points around Makkah, stressing that there is an integrated plan to make this year’s season safe and secure.

Pilgrims’ tents at Arafat, as well as facilities in Mina and other areas where pilgrims will stay in Muzdalifah have all been inspected.

“The environment … this year will be different from the previous Hajj seasons. It will be a healthy environment, ensuring social distancing between the pilgrims during the entire journey, thanks to large camps allowing continuous air movement, thus eliminating any risks,” said Mashat.

He pointed out that the Saudi government has created an integrated transportation network connecting all relevant sites across the region.

The ministry has long developed strategic and operational plans related to Hajj activities in cooperation with more than 30 entities.

Dr. Abdulfattah Mashat

“There will be buses transporting pilgrims from their residence … to the arrival station,” he said. “The authorities are currently developing the final plan for transport with the security authorities, which will be revealed very soon, accompanied by an awareness program targeting pilgrims via their smart phones or through social media platforms.”

Mashat said pilgrims performing Hajj this season have never been on the pilgrimage before. “In June, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah began to receive applications. We received, in ten days, over 500,000 applications, while the target number was 60,000.

“The applications were sorted according to a specific mechanism such as the readiness of the pilgrim physically, taking into account if they had already performed Hajj. The data was also sorted out by age groups, with priority initially given to those over 50 years of age from all nationalities residing in the Kingdom.”

The pilgrims were distributed across 190 companies offering three packages. Mashat said the chosen pilgrims will start arriving on July 17 and 18, and that buses that used to accommodate 50 pilgrims in the past will accommodate just 20 this year.

He added that pilgrims’ smart cards would be essential during their stay, providing them with information of significant help to them and service providers.

Ahmed Saleh Halabi, a journalist and writer specializing in Hajj and Umrah services, said: “This year’s Hajj season comes while the coronavirus disease pandemic is still ravaging the world. Some believed that the performance of the Hajj (would have to) stop, after some countries closed their borders, but the Saudi leadership was keen to hold the Hajj season, in a way that guarantees the safety of pilgrims, in limited numbers, and in accordance with precautionary and preventive measures.”

He added: “Last year’s Hajj season was an exceptional season as a result of the outbreak of the pandemic, and the government of the Kingdom has enabled pilgrims to perform their rituals with security and tranquility, gaining good experience in organizing and managing crises and overcoming the pressures imposed by the virus.”

Saudi Arabia’s decision to limit Hajj to citizens and residents within the Kingdom confirms the government’s keenness to maintain the safety, health and security of pilgrims, in line with Islam, that calls on preserving human life, he said.


Saudi Arabia registers 5 COVID-19 deaths, 59 new cases

Saudi Arabia registers 5 COVID-19 deaths, 59 new cases
Updated 27 September 2021

Saudi Arabia registers 5 COVID-19 deaths, 59 new cases

Saudi Arabia registers 5 COVID-19 deaths, 59 new cases
  • The Kingdom says 78 patients had recovered from the virus in the past 24 hours
  • Over 41.7 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered to date across KSA

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia confirmed five new COVID-19 related deaths on Monday, raising the total number of fatalities to 8,704.
The Ministry of Health confirmed 59 new cases reported in the Kingdom in the previous 24 hours, meaning 546,985 people have now contracted the disease. Of the total number of cases, 244 remain in critical condition.
According to the ministry, the highest number of cases were recorded in the capital Riyadh and Jeddah with 10 cases each, followed by Hafar Al-Batin with four, and Madinah and Makkah confirmed three cases each.
The health ministry also announced that 78 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 536,028.


Over 41.7 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered in the Kingdom to date through 587 centers.
The ministry renewed its call on the public to register with the Sehhaty app to receive the vaccine, and adhere to the measures and abide by instructions.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs reopened one mosque after temporarily evacuating and sterilizing it in Al-Jawf after one person tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the total number of mosques closed and reopened after being sterilized to 2,031 within 230 days.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected over 232 million people globally and the death toll has reached around 4.76 million.


Ambitious plans unveiled for luxury new Saudi mountain resort

Ambitious plans unveiled for luxury new Saudi mountain resort
Updated 27 September 2021

Ambitious plans unveiled for luxury new Saudi mountain resort

Ambitious plans unveiled for luxury new Saudi mountain resort
  • Oppenheim Architecture has created 48 villas and 12 hotel rooms for the site designed to protect and preserve the environment and highlight the region’s cultural heritage

JEDDAH: Ambitious plans have been unveiled for a new resort in the Saudi mountains designed to blend modern architecture into the natural landscape.

The Red Sea Development Co. project, one of the Kingdom’s most ambitious regenerative tourism schemes to date, will see luxury accommodation built into rocky outcrops commanding stunning valley views.

Developers behind the Desert Rock resort adopted a design philosophy of building with the land, not on the land.

John Pagano, chief executive officer at TRSDC, said: “We wanted to create a destination that allows guests to experience Saudi Arabia’s untouched beauty. Desert Rock will provide guests with uninterrupted spectacular views while preserving the natural landscape for future generations to enjoy.”

Oppenheim Architecture has created 48 villas and 12 hotel rooms for the site designed to protect and preserve the environment and highlight the region’s cultural heritage.

“We have drawn inspiration from the surrounding environment, while providing unparalleled luxury, allowing guests to connect with nature and create memorable experiences,” added Pagano.

Materials excavated from the site will be used to create the infrastructure, with stone going into interior and exterior walls and floors, and sand and gravel being used for concrete aggregate.

Construction began in July, and the resort has been designed to reduce energy consumption and regenerate native flora. Water retention and distribution systems will be used throughout the site, with harvested rainwater creating a more green, flourishing wadi. The first hotel guests are due to check in at the end of next year.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced the Red Sea Project in July 2017. Elements of the first phase of the flagship scheme are set to open in 2022. Upon full completion in 2030, the project will comprise 50 hotels offering up to 8,000 rooms and 1,300 residential properties across 22 islands and six inland sites.

The destination will also include luxury marinas, golf courses, entertainment and leisure facilities, and an international airport.


Biden’s national security adviser Sullivan travels to Saudi Arabia, UAE

Biden’s national security adviser Sullivan travels to Saudi Arabia, UAE
Updated 27 September 2021

Biden’s national security adviser Sullivan travels to Saudi Arabia, UAE

Biden’s national security adviser Sullivan travels to Saudi Arabia, UAE

RIYADH: US President Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan is traveling to Saudi Arabia on Monday to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, according to the Associated Press. 

Sullivan will also visit the United Arab Emirates as part of his regional trip. 

 

 


Riyadh Season 2021 coming to a desert near you

Riyadh Season 2021 coming to a desert near you
Updated 27 September 2021

Riyadh Season 2021 coming to a desert near you

Riyadh Season 2021 coming to a desert near you
  • The Riyadh Season is expected to provide a mixture of exclusivity and modernity, turning the Saudi capital into a preferred destination for visitors

JEDDAH: Under the slogan #Imagine_more, Riyadh Season 2021 begins in less than a month and offers events and activities for all.

Turki Al-Sheikh, chairman of the board of directors of the General Entertainment Authority, on Saturday announced the launch of the 2021 Riyadh Season on Oct. 20. It will cover an area of 5.4 million square meters across 14 districts in the capital city.

Al-Sheikh said that after the success of Riyadh Season 2019, this year’s events would be organized by Saudi teams.

The season will host 7,500 events, including 70 Arab concerts, six international concerts, 10 international exhibitions, 350 theater performances, 18 Arab plays and six international plays, in addition to one free-wrestling championship, two international matches, 100 interactive experiences, 200 restaurants and 70 cafes, all catering to a range of tastes and age groups.

Nour Fahed, who visited Riyadh’s last season in 2019, told Arab News how excited she was to be attending this year’s events. “I went to the Riyadh Season twice and I was overwhelmed with the things that I saw,” she said. “I could not believe my eyes and I was proud that my country is making international events like this.” 

Hams Nabeel, who went to Riyadh for a business trip during the season, said: “I tried some of the exotic pop-up restaurants in the season, but my favorite activity was going to the Winter Wonderland theme park. I liked how I saw and met so many foreigners and I am aiming for another adventure this year.”

Another guest, Majid Al Assiri, said that he made the most of the activities on offer during the last Riyadh Season, visiting Winter Wonderland, the boulevard, Diriyah festivals, MDLBEAST. “It will be a fantastic season, especially now that people already have an idea of what to expect from last season,” he said.

“Not to mention the second season of MDLBEAST: 2019 was a blast, it was cold because but the experience itself is unique and the first of its kind,” Assiri said. 

The Riyadh Season is expected to provide a mixture of exclusivity and modernity, turning the Saudi capital into a preferred destination for visitors. It will also contribute to achieving national goals such as raising the level of the entertainment-sector industry, creating job opportunities, growing economic returns and attracting foreign investment.

More details will be announced at a press conference on Oct. 4.

Decoder

RIYADH SEASON

Riyadh Season is the biggest part of Saudi Seasons, a series of themed entertainment, artistic, sporting and cultural events held throughout the Kingdom to boost tourism and business opportunities, and providing jobs for Saudi nationals. Riyadh Season 2021 alone will host 7,500 events, according to the Saudi General Entertainment Authority (GEA).


Who’s Who: Loay Mashabi, deputy minister at Saudi Ministry of Transport and Logistic Services

Who’s Who: Loay Mashabi, deputy minister at Saudi Ministry of Transport and Logistic Services
Updated 27 September 2021

Who’s Who: Loay Mashabi, deputy minister at Saudi Ministry of Transport and Logistic Services

Who’s Who: Loay Mashabi, deputy minister at Saudi Ministry of Transport and Logistic Services

Loay Mashabi has been the deputy minister for logistic services at the Ministry of Transport and Logistic Services since April 2021.

He has also been a board member of Saudia Cargo from August 2021 and a board member of Saudi Exports from June 2021.

Prior to his current position, Mashabi was the deputy governor for planning and development at Saudi Customs from September 2019 to March 2021.

He served as the chief operating officer of the Al-Soudah Development project, later known as Al-Soudah Development Co., at the Public Investment Fund, the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia, from February 2019 to August 2019.

From January 2017 to December 2018 Mashabi was general manager at LogiPoint Services, previously known as Isnad, the operator of the largest bonded and re-export zone in Saudi Arabia located at Jeddah Islamic Port.

From September of 2013 to December 2016, he worked as general manager at Petroleum and Energy Logistics and Services Co.

His professional career began in September 2006 at Saudi Aramco as a petroleum production engineer, and he continued to work as a senior production engineer at the oil giant until April 2013. This strong foundation in a well-governed giga-company helped to shape his career and he later moved to PETROGISTIX.

Mashabi received his master’s degree in business administration from the London Business School, a constituent college of the University of London, UK (2016-17).

He has a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, Saudi Arabia (2002-2006).

Mashabi was issued a petroleum engineering certification from the Society of Petroleum Engineers in December 2012.