Security in Makkah will be ‘tight’ during Hajj, officials say

Leaders of the Hajj Security Force hold their second press conference. (SPA)
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Leaders of the Hajj Security Force hold their second press conference. (SPA)
Leaders of the Hajj Security Force hold their second press conference. (SPA)
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Leaders of the Hajj Security Force hold their second press conference. (SPA)
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Updated 16 July 2021

Security in Makkah will be ‘tight’ during Hajj, officials say

Leaders of the Hajj Security Force hold their second press conference. (SPA)
  • Pilgrims will not be permitted to travel on foot between the holy sites and people will only be able to move in buses
  • All entrances to Makkah are monitored by security officers and thermal-imaging cameras to prevent entry for people without Hajj permits

MAKKAH: A tight security cordon is in place around Makkah and its holy sites to prevent unauthorized people entering the city during Hajj, commanders of the operation said on Wednesday.
They also stressed that pilgrims will not be permitted to travel on foot from the Grand Mosque to Arafat, or between Arafat, Muzdalifah and Mina.
During a briefing at the Unified Security Operations Center (911) in Makkah, Commander of Hajj Security Forces Maj. Gen. Zayed bin Abdulrahman Al-Tuwayan, said people will only be able to move between the sites on buses provided for the purpose.
“These buses are in four colors,” he said. “Each color refers to certain areas within the holy sites. Pilgrims are expected to abide by the instructions in this regard, as they will not be allowed to move on foot.”
All entrances to Makkah are monitored not only by security officers, Al-Tuwayan said, but also by thermal-imaging cameras to prevent people without Hajj permits accessing the holy sites.
“The mountains surrounding Makkah and all its valleys, where people with no Hajj permits might believe they can access the holy sites, are completely monitored by the Mujahideen force and equipped with cameras to foil such attempts,” he added.
He urged all citizens and residents to cooperate with the security forces during this exceptional time of challenges caused by the pandemic, for the well-being of all.
However he pointed out that the force’s planning for Hajj does not only focus on security, health and organizational measures, but also on providing help and assistance when needed.
“Pilgrims’ safety is a top priority but our services also include directing pilgrims who get lost to their destinations, and keeping safe any items they might lose while carrying out their rituals,” said Al-Tuwayan.
Maj. Gen. Mohammed Al-Bassami, assistant commander of Hajj Security Forces for the security of the Grand Mosque and its surroundings, confirmed that the mosque is now ready to welcome pilgrims.
“With coordination with the Hajj and Umrah Ministry, pilgrims can get to the Grand Mosque, beginning from 6.00 a.m. on the 7th day of Dhul Hijja (July 17),” he said. “With the health preventive measures agreed upon with the concerned authorities, the Mataf can accommodate from 4,000 to 6,000 pilgrims per hour.”
He added that his forces will facilitate and manage entry into the mosque.
The security forces are working closely with health authorities to protect pilgrims and prevent the spread of the coronavirus during Hajj, and Al-Bassami told Arab News that he is very proud of the steps Saudi Arabia is taking to achieve this.
“We have a very high level of coordination with the Ministry of Health, which is always present with us in all our steps and procedures,” he said. “In fact, the whole Hajj plan was built on security, health and organizational bases. There is no doubt the Health Ministry is an essential partner in the overall plan.”
Maj. Gen. Salman Al-Jumai’e, assistant commander of Hajj Security Forces for traffic, said that 2,500 buses have been provided to transport pilgrims wherever the need to go, from the moment they arrive for Hajj until they leave.
“These buses are scheduled to make 26,000 trips inside Makkah, Arafat, Muzdalifah and Mina,” he said. “As part of our duties, we will be monitoring the traffic flow, attending to traffic accidents and managing the checkpoints and shuttle buses.”
Brig. Gen. Ali Al-Qahtani, assistant commander of Hajj Security Forces for security patrols, added that his forces, which include foot patrols, officers on motorbikes and undercover patrols, will serve and help pilgrims and prevent unauthorized vehicles gaining access to the area.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Hajj is restricted to 60,000 pilgrims from within the Kingdom.

Meanwhile, spokesman for the Hajj Security Forces Command, Brig. Gen. Sami Al-Shuwairekh, said that 10 people have been arrested for violating the Hajj regulations and instructions, as they did not have a valid permit.
He said legal measures have been taken against them and they have each been fined SR10,000 ($2,666).
Al-Shuwairekh called on all citizens and residents to abide by the instructions for this year’s pilgrimage season, adding that security forces will take legal measures against anyone who tries to reach the Grand Mosque, its central surrounding area and the holy sites (Mina, Muzdalifah, and Arafat) without a permit until July 23.


Saudi and US forces train in weapons of mass destruction crisis management

The Saudi Armed Forces and the US forces continue the Prevention Shield-3 exercise. (Saudi Ministry of Defense)
The Saudi Armed Forces and the US forces continue the Prevention Shield-3 exercise. (Saudi Ministry of Defense)
Updated 24 January 2022

Saudi and US forces train in weapons of mass destruction crisis management

The Saudi Armed Forces and the US forces continue the Prevention Shield-3 exercise. (Saudi Ministry of Defense)
  • Royal Saudi Naval Forces launched a mixed bilateral naval exercise with their Egyptian counterparts

RIYADH: The Saudi Armed Forces continued a joint exercise with US forces to train and plan for the management of crises resulting from weapons of mass destruction, the Kingdom’s defense ministry said on Sunday.
Several government agencies also participated in the “Prevention Shield-3” exercise, which began several days ago.
Col. Bader bin Saad Al-Theban, the spokesman for the exercise, said that the first phase of the drill was successfully carried out under the supervision of the general supervisor of the exercise, Maj. Gen. Khalid bin Saeed Abu Qais. 
He said several seminars, workshops and lectures were held on protection from weapons of mass destruction, and commanders and staff were trained in planning to manage crises.
Al-Theban added that the second phase of the exercise started on Sunday and a number of tasks and practical hypotheses have been implemented, such as warning, disinfection, reconnaissance, exposure to a ballistic missile attack loaded with a chemical agent, pollution of surrounding areas and casualties, which requires rapid intervention.
He thanked all the participants in the exercise from the US forces, branches of the Saudi armed forces, the Ministry of Health, Civil Defense and the Saudi Red Crescent for their efforts to make the exercise a success.
Meanwhile, the Royal Saudi Naval Forces launched a mixed bilateral naval exercise with their Egyptian counterparts at King Faisal Naval Base in the Western Fleet.
Rear Admiral Yahya bin Mohammed Al-Asiri, the commander of the Western Fleet, said that the “Morjan 17” exercise aims to strengthen relations and joint cooperation, and raise the level of combat readiness and preparedness between both countries’ naval forces.
It also aims to unify operational concepts between the two sides to confront regional threats, and exchange expertise in methods and ways of implementing naval missions. It also contributes to developing unit crews in naval wars and special forces missions to protect the maritime safety, regional and international waterways and freedom of navigation in the Red Sea, he added.
The exercise is an extension of a series of previous joint exercises between the two countries, and includes many maneuvers that enhance maritime security measures in the region.


International e-learning conference starts in Riyadh

International e-learning Center in Riyadh. (SPA)
International e-learning Center in Riyadh. (SPA)
Updated 24 January 2022

International e-learning conference starts in Riyadh

International e-learning Center in Riyadh. (SPA)
  • The minister said the conference contributed to achieving national objectives in human capability development in view of the support provided by the Saudi leadership to the e-learning and training sector

RIYADH: International experts are taking part in a four-day conference in Riyadh to discuss the future of e-learning and e-training in Saudi Arabia.

The event, which started on Monday and is called eLearning for Human Capability Development, has been organized by the National eLearning Center under the patronage of its CEO and Education Minister Hamad Al-Asheikh, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

It will review the latest developments and opportunities in the field, and discuss ways to develop Saudis’ skills to enable them to compete in the global labor market.

Al-Asheikh said the conference represented a valuable opportunity to share knowledge and ideas and learn about best experiences and practices, and it was also in line with the rapid developments and evolving needs of the labor market.

The minister said the conference contributed to achieving national objectives in human capability development in view of the support provided by the Saudi leadership to the e-learning and training sector, contributing to empower national capabilities to compete locally and globally.

Delegates will review the experiences of bodies and blocs like the EU, UNESCO and the International Labour Organization, as well as those of individual countries such as India.

The event will look at how platforms like edX, Coursera, and FutureLearn can help to boost people’s skills, and discuss ways to use e-learning to harmonize educational output with the needs of the labor market.

It will have workshops presented by experts and practitioners in various disciplines from around the world.

The National eLearning Center said the conference aimed to review global experiences and expertise related to innovation in employing e-learning and training to develop human capability worldwide.

The conference will discuss the most important challenges to human capability development and e-learning and training opportunities, and ways to overcome them.

The center said the conference had four key themes: E-learning as an enabler and accelerator for human capability development, skill enhancement, learning platforms, and micro-credentials, all of which will be addressed in discussion sessions with the participation of over 20 speakers.

 


Residents injured in Houthi ballistic missile attack on Saudi industrial area

Residents injured in Houthi ballistic missile attack on Saudi industrial area
Updated 24 January 2022

Residents injured in Houthi ballistic missile attack on Saudi industrial area

Residents injured in Houthi ballistic missile attack on Saudi industrial area
  • Coalition said this was third Houthi attempt to target civilians of different nationalities in the industrial area
  • The “vicious and brutal attack” would be dealt with firmly, the coalition added

RIYADH: Two residents sustained minor injuries after the Houthis fired a ballistic missile that fell in the industrial area of Ahad Al-Masarihah, Jazan, the coalition said on Sunday.

The residents, of Sudanese and Bangladeshi origin, were wounded and workshops and civilian vehicles were damaged in the “vicious and brutal attack” that would be dealt with firmly, the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen said.

This was the third Houthi attempt to target civilians of different nationalities in the industrial area situated in the Kingdom’s south western region, the coalition said.

The coalition also said it had intercepted and destroyed two drones that were launched from Yemen’s Al-Jouf governorate.

Meanwhile, Yemen's defense ministry said it had received “shocking” information about the Houthi militia executing its fighters who had withdrawn from combat and refused to fight.

“We have given directions to our units to receive the retreating Houthi fighters,” the ministry said.

It promised safety and good treatment to withdrawing Houthi fighters “in accordance with international legitimacy, norms, and laws.”

“Those who have withdrawn are guests whom we will receive, and we will provide them with all help, support, and assistance to return to their areas when they wish,” the ministry said.


Niger hands over OIC presidency to Pakistan

Held at the OIC’s headquarters in Jeddah, the inaugural session saw the handover of the chair from Niger to Pakistan. (Supplied)
Held at the OIC’s headquarters in Jeddah, the inaugural session saw the handover of the chair from Niger to Pakistan. (Supplied)
Updated 24 January 2022

Niger hands over OIC presidency to Pakistan

Held at the OIC’s headquarters in Jeddah, the inaugural session saw the handover of the chair from Niger to Pakistan. (Supplied)
  • Taha underlined the need to overcome the challenges faced by member states to ensure peace, stability, and development and to achieve the aspirations of their people

JEDDAH: The Organization of Islamic Cooperation on Sunday held a preparatory meeting for the 48th session of the Council of Foreign Ministers, which is due to take place in Islamabad in March.
Held at the OIC’s headquarters in Jeddah, the inaugural session saw the handover of the chair from Niger to Pakistan.
OIC Secretary-General Hissein Brahim Taha reviewed major developments that had taken place in some member states and also the meeting’s main agenda items.
He addressed the situation in Palestine, Afghanistan, Jammu and Kashmir, Yemen, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Mali, the Sahel Region and Lake Chad Basin, and other African countries, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Muslim communities and minorities in nonmember states.
Taha underlined the need to overcome the challenges faced by member states to ensure peace, stability, and development and to achieve the aspirations of their people.
He also stressed the need to strengthen OIC capacities in the areas of peace, preventive diplomacy and mediation, counterterrorism and combating Islamophobia, along with response efforts to COVID-19 challenges.


Saudi statistics authority prepares for fifth national census

GASTAT recently started working on a 40-day electronic business statistics survey, which aims to provide accurate statistical data. (Twitter: @Stats_Saudi)
GASTAT recently started working on a 40-day electronic business statistics survey, which aims to provide accurate statistical data. (Twitter: @Stats_Saudi)
Updated 23 January 2022

Saudi statistics authority prepares for fifth national census

GASTAT recently started working on a 40-day electronic business statistics survey, which aims to provide accurate statistical data. (Twitter: @Stats_Saudi)
  • Satellite imagery to ensure comprehensive coverage of Kingdom’s regions

JEDDAH: The Saudi General Authority for Statistics is preparing to carry out the country’s fifth housing and population census, including the use of satellite imagery to help ensure more comprehensive coverage of the Kingdom’s regions.

The census plays a key role in achieving the goals for the country’s economic and social transformation, as outlined in Vision 2030.

A preliminary estimate of the Saudi population as of mid-2020 was 35,013,414. The previous census processes took place in 1974, 1992, 2004, and 2010.

The last survey showed that the country’s population was 27,136,977, with more than 6,915,000 people in the Makkah region, the highest of the country’s 13 administrative regions.

GASTAT said it had prepared a plan for its upcoming census after a comprehensive study of the requirements of its beneficiaries from government agencies, and based on global best practices and standards for population census models used in G20 countries as well as by members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

FASTFACT

35 million

A preliminary estimate of the Saudi population as of mid-2020 was 35,013,414.

The authority said that modern technology would be used for the first time in conducting its census operations, including the use of satellite imagery to help ensure more comprehensive coverage of the Kingdom’s regions, identifying unregistered dwellings at national addresses, and developing a data collection mechanism to include digital self-enumeration, a new method of collecting data through the authority’s publicly accessible portal, as well as updating the census form to assist decision-makers, according to international best practices.

GASTAT said it was fully committed to the highest levels of privacy, confidentiality, and protection for the data of those included in the census, and any personal information related to their identities. It also undertook not to share any collected information with or disclose it to any third party.

Last September, GASTAT carried out a pilot census covering seven Saudi cities in Tabuk, AlUla, Makkah, Asir, Diriyah, Riyadh, and the Eastern Province. It was meant to test the form along with the working tools to be used in the general population and housing census.

Self-enumeration, electronically filling out questionnaires, and other statistical methods were also applied before the final census work, which is expected to begin in a few months.

GASTAT recently started working on a 40-day electronic business statistics survey, which aims to provide accurate statistical data and indicators on establishments that carry out various economic activities in Saudi Arabia.

It said the survey was done in coordination with government bodies and that the questionnaires were based on specific statistical criteria to assure accurate statistical data and indicators.

The pilot census also included the numbering of buildings, along with their components of housing units and households, in addition to counting the population and individuals in labor camps and public housing, and identifying their demographic, social, and economic characteristics, to obtain accurate and timely results.

GASTAT said it was the only official statistical reference for statistical data and information in the Kingdom.

It added that it implemented all statistical work and technical supervision of the sector, which included an ecosystem of statistical centers and units established in the administrative structures of government agencies and several private sector institutions.

Most countries conduct a comprehensive census of their population, housing, and establishments every 10 years to provide accurate and detailed data about the population and its distribution according to their place of residence, their social and economic characteristics, such as the educational level and educational qualifications obtained, the economic status of individuals, the professions practiced by workers, the type of economic sector to which they belong, and the economic activity of the entities in which they work.