First smart card issued for this year’s Hajj

Makkah Gov. Prince Khalid Al-Faisal at a ceremony marking the issuance of first smart card for Hajj aimed at facilitating pilgrims. (Supplied)
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Makkah Gov. Prince Khalid Al-Faisal at a ceremony marking the issuance of first smart card for Hajj aimed at facilitating pilgrims. (Supplied)
First smart card issued for this year’s Hajj
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Makkah Gov. Prince Khalid Al-Faisal at a ceremony marking the issuance of first smart card for Hajj aimed at facilitating pilgrims. (Supplied)
First smart card issued for this year’s Hajj
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Makkah Gov. Prince Khalid Al-Faisal at a ceremony marking the issuance of first smart card for Hajj aimed at facilitating pilgrims. (Supplied)
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Updated 13 July 2021

First smart card issued for this year’s Hajj

Makkah Gov. Prince Khalid Al-Faisal at a ceremony marking the issuance of first smart card for Hajj aimed at facilitating pilgrims. (Supplied)
  • Modern facilities ready to receive, serve pilgrims

JEDDAH: The first smart Hajj card for this year’s pilgrimage was issued in the presence of Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, who is also the chairman of the Central Hajj Committee, and his deputy Prince Badr bin Sultan.

This came during an inspection visit to the holy sites on Monday to check on the readiness of the facilities to receive pilgrims. This will be the first time the technology is used to serve pilgrims throughout their journey.  
The tour began with Prince Khaled inaugurating the Al-Shumaisi Security Control Center project.
The project covers an area of 1.6 million square meters and is supported by smart systems for screening and a unified digital gateway that facilitates traffic and reduces the waiting period of people arriving in Makkah during peak times from 45 to seven minutes.
The number of vehicle lanes has been also increased from six to 16, and special lanes have been dedicated to buses, transport vehicles, trucks and emergency vehicles.
The center includes administrative offices, a mosque, a center for civil defense and another for the Red Crescent Authority, and a building for security and governmental authorities.
The governor also inaugurated the Al-Zaidi Reception Center project in the presence of Dr. Abdulfattah Mashat, Saudi deputy minister of Hajj and Umrah. The center aims to facilitate the movement of pilgrims from and into Makkah, reduce the waiting time for buses and improve the visual image at screening points.
The center includes a parking lot that fits over 8,000 vehicles, entry and exit gates and an inspection zone for vehicles.
It also issues the smart Hajj card, provides an automatic reading of the Hajj permits and offers hospitality services, including transportation of luggage to the holy sites and of pilgrims to the mosque to perform Tawaf or to visit Mina.

FASTFACTS

• A unified digital gateway inaugurated to monitor and facilitate traffic arriving in Makkah.

• The number of vehicle lanes has been also increased from six to 16. Special lanes have been dedicated to buses, transport vehicles, trucks and emergency vehicles.

Mashat explained that the Hajj smart card is linked to all services provided for pilgrims, allowing them to enter the camps and hotels and use the available transportation.
The card is also used to pay at points of sales and ATMs, guide lost pilgrims, control entry to the camps and time movements.
The Makkah governor visited the holy sites and inspected the readiness of Arafat and Mina, where he visited a model of the camps and listened to a briefing on its plans to receive pilgrims.
He also reviewed the precautionary measures in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), such as visual and thermal screening upon entry to living accommodations.
The sanitization process has been intensified, and masks and sanitizers will be distributed among pilgrims. Social distancing will also be enforced on-site, inside the rooms and during transportation.
Ready meals will be available for each pilgrim in their rooms, without the need to gather at dining halls. More than 1 million meals have been prepared for the Hajj season this year, taking into consideration the highest standards of quality and safety.
Prince Khaled also reviewed transportation plans: 3,000 passenger buses have been readied for pilgrims, with each accommodating 20 people. The buses will be distributed over four tracks, based on the colors red, green, yellow and blue. Each track is linked to the housing location of pilgrims. To organize and manage crowds, a smart program designed specifically for this purpose will be used.
Hajj will start on Dul Hijjah 8 (July 18). The day of Arafat will fall on Dul Hijjah 9 corresponding to July 19.


Arab coalition destroy two Houthi booby-trapped boats in Salif

Arab coalition destroy two Houthi booby-trapped boats in Salif
Updated 19 sec ago

Arab coalition destroy two Houthi booby-trapped boats in Salif

Arab coalition destroy two Houthi booby-trapped boats in Salif

RIYADH: The Arab coalition confirmed on Monday it had destroyed two booby-trapped boats of the Houthi militia in Salif and thwarted an imminent attack.

More to follow...


Saudi Arabia and India discuss aspects of cooperation

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi receives Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan in New Delhi. (SPA)
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi receives Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan in New Delhi. (SPA)
Updated 1 min 21 sec ago

Saudi Arabia and India discuss aspects of cooperation

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi receives Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan in New Delhi. (SPA)
  • Prince Faisal also participated in a discussion at the Observer Research Foundation during his visit to New Delhi

RIYADH: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks with Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan in the capital, New Delhi, Monday to discuss various aspects of cooperation.
Prince Faisal conveyed greetings from King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Modi, the Indian government and its people.
During the meeting, they reviewed the “strong and historical Saudi-Indian relations,” and discussed strengthening them to “achieve the aspirations and hopes of the two peoples for further progress and prosperity,” the Kingdom’s foreign ministry said.

The two sides also discussed regional and international issues and ways to enhance international peace and security.
Modi praised the Kingdom’s leading role in protecting the planet, especially through the crown prince’s Saudi and Middle East green initiatives that were announced in March.
They also held talks on ways to consolidate the economic partnership between the two countries in light of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, and ways in which bilateral cooperation has intensified.

During his visit, Prince Faisal also participated in a discussion session with a group of researchers and thinkers at the Observer Research Foundation, along with its chairman Sunjoy Joshi.
The discussion touched on several topics, including the Kingdom’s green initiatives, Saudi Arabia and India’s leading roles in the G20, and the joint coordination on enhancing international peace and security.
The discussion also dealt with the rapid developments in Saudi Arabia stemming from its Vision 2030, including renewable energy projects and investment in technology.


New procedures to verify COVID-19 immunization of expats coming to Saudi Arabia

New procedures to verify COVID-19 immunization of expats coming to Saudi Arabia
Updated 43 min 53 sec ago

New procedures to verify COVID-19 immunization of expats coming to Saudi Arabia

New procedures to verify COVID-19 immunization of expats coming to Saudi Arabia
  • Circular to airlines stipulates that they must confirm status of their passengers before boarding
  • Kingdom on Monday recorded 6 COVID-19 deaths, 63 new infections and 71 recoveries

JEDDAH: The Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation has issued a circular to all airlines operating in the Kingdom’s airports, including private aviation, regarding procedures for verifying the immunization status of expatriates before they board flights to Saudi Arabia.
The circular stipulated two ways for expatriate travelers to verify their eligibility, either by showing their immunization status in the “Tawakkalna” application or by submitting a report proving immunization in the Kingdom through the “Qudoom” platform.
The authority stressed that legal action will be taken against violators.
In an earlier press conference about the developments of the COVID-19 pandemic, Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly said that the epidemiological indicators in the Kingdom and the world continue to decline.
He noted that the world is close to vaccinating nearly 6 billion people.
As the Kingdom approaches the celebration of its National Day, Al-Abd Al-Aly urged everyone to complete their two doses and continue to adhere to precautionary measures.
Saudi Arabia on Monday reported six more COVID-19-related deaths, taking the overall toll to 8,667.

 

There were 63 new cases, meaning that 546,612 people in the country have contracted the disease. A total of 2,343 cases remained active, of which 339 patients were in critical condition.
Of the newly recorded cases, 15 were in Makkah region, 13 in Riyadh region, seven in the Eastern Province, and five in Madinah region.
In addition, the ministry said 71 patients had recovered from the disease, increasing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 535,602.
Saudi Arabia had so far conducted 28,433,787 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, with 45,291 carried out in the past 24 hours.
Testing hubs and treatment centers set up throughout the country have dealt with hundreds of thousands of people since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak.
Among them, Taakad (make sure) centers provide COVID-19 testing for those who show no or only mild symptoms or believe they have come into contact with an infected individual. Tetamman (rest assured) clinics offer treatment and advice to those with virus symptoms such as fever, loss of taste and smell, and breathing difficulties.
Appointments for both services can be made via the ministry’s Sehhaty app.


Meanwhile, 40,967,054 people in the country have to date received a COVID-19 vaccination, including 1,639,937 people who are elderly. About 65.42 percent of the population have received the first dose, while 50.58 percent have completed both doses. At this rate, 70 percent of the population is expected to have completed both doses by Nov. 5, 2021.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Commerce carried out 48,273 inspection tours during the past two weeks to ensure that commercial establishments and outlets in all regions of the Kingdom were adhering to precautionary measures. Authorities issued 1,143 fines for immediate violations.
Municipalities in the Kingdom have also shut down multiple commercial outlets as part of their efforts to monitor compliance with health and safety measures to stop the spread of the disease.
The municipality of Jeddah closed 23 facilities during 3,431 inspection tours carried out on Sunday. Authorities also issued fines to 23 other businesses.
Officials have urged the public to report any suspected health breaches by phoning the 940 call center number or contacting authorities through the Balady app.
The Ministry of Islamic Affairs reopened one mosque after temporarily evacuating and sterilizing it in Asir region after one person tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the total number of mosques closed and reopened after being sterilized to 2,027 within 223 days.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected over 229 million people globally and the death toll has reached around 4.70 million.

FACTOID

FASTFACTS

Saudi Arabia reported 63 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday. The death toll has risen to 8,667 with six more virus-related fatalities.


Saudi Arabia calls for peaceful use of nuclear energy

Saudi Arabia calls for peaceful use of nuclear energy
Updated 20 September 2021

Saudi Arabia calls for peaceful use of nuclear energy

Saudi Arabia calls for peaceful use of nuclear energy
  • The minister said the region needs to be free of weapons of mass destruction

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia adheres to its policy for the peaceful use of nuclear energy, Al-Ekhbariya TV cited Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman as saying during a press conference on Monday.

He added that it is important for countries to adhere to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and the need to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

“The Kingdom is concerned about Iran’s non-compliance and lack of transparency of its nuclear program,” the minister said.

He further said the region needs to be free of weapons of mass destruction, and Saudi Arabia continues to support the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to consolidate the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

The nuclear watchdog’s General Assembly began its meeting on Monday in Vienna to discuss the challenges that faced the organization a year ago.

Another meeting will be held between the IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi and the Head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Mohammad Eslami to discuss Tehran’s cooperation with the agency, and to set a new date for Grossi’s visit to the country.


The Flowerman Festival: Sharing Asir’s culture with the world

The Flowerman Festival: Sharing Asir’s culture with the world
Updated 20 September 2021

The Flowerman Festival: Sharing Asir’s culture with the world

The Flowerman Festival: Sharing Asir’s culture with the world
  • Flowerman Festival celebrates the rural traditions in the Asir mountains in the southwestern region of Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: Bright colors, regional flowers and celebrations of heritage are highlights of the second Flowerman Festival, hosted by the Ministry of Culture in the Asir region.

Young and old visitors wear colorful floral garlands and join hands and dance to celebrate this important cultural and historical event.

The Flowerman Festival celebrates the rural traditions in the Asir mountains in the southwestern region of Saudi Arabia from Sept 13 to Sept. 27.

One of the missions of the festival is to share the Flowerman heritage and spread awareness of its cultural diversity with local and international visitors through art, dance and storytelling.

The festival is centered around three features, which focus on the preservation of culture under the theme of “nine years of glory.”

The first feature of the festival depicts the stories of the historical roles of the flowermen in a feature called “FlowerMen and Determination,” showing Rijal Almaa’s timeline through dance and chanting.

The second feature of the festival will celebrate women and the important role they play in preserving the heritage of the Asir region through their colorful artwork.

Some of the local women can be seen around the festival grounds carefully weaving the traditional floral crowns made of marigolds, jasmine and basil.

These floral crowns are the staple of the festival, worn not only the locals in Rijal Almaa village but by all visitors in celebration of its rural heritage. 

Made of freshly cut flowers, these crowns are a historical symbol of power, health and eternity worn by many locals in the Asir and Jazan region. 

The third feature of the festival is “Rijal’s Fort.” This showcases the local architecture — made of colorful stone, delicately stacked — and which also makes use of clay and wood.

Projected on the 60 buildings in the village is a laser show that shares the story of Rijal’s history.

At night these buildings, 14 of which were used as forts, are highlighted with bright colored lights that trace each corner of the structures, creating a bright glow from miles away.

The events are hosted in two locations — the first is the village of Rijal and the second is in Al-Soudah Park.

Al-Soudah Park features a 360-degree main stage where folk performances are held, and where the local colorful thobes and floral crowns have caught the attention of locals and international visitors. 

Located 45 km west of Abha, the hub of the festival Rijal Almaa, the location is in the process of becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The hub was once the meeting place for merchants and pilgrims traveling to the holy cities of Makkah and Medina. Here merchants traded food, grains, household items, spices and jewelry.

This culturally rich region is home to the Rijal Almaa village, also referred to by international tourists as the gingerbread village because of the bright colors of the stone bricks carefully laid to create its century-old architectural structures.

Rijal Almaa holds a deep historical importance for the Kingdom; it is the location where the Asiri tribes claimed independence over the region and defeated the Ottoman forces in 1825.

The Flowerman Festival is a harmonious celebration of the environment and the rich local heritage of the village people. The festival showcases the connected villages that coexist within the environment, where people harvest flowers to create garlands and live in harmony with nature.

Few places in the world are preserved in the way that the Asir region is, with its historic villages hidden in the mountains.

The second edition of the festival offers live music, horseback riding and an open-air heritage market that sells many handmade crafts created by the local village people of the Asir region.

The first festival in 2019 welcomed more than 30,000 visitors with the theme of the local roses.

The Flowerman Festival will continue as an annual event organized by the Ministry of Culture to attract global visitors.