Saudi Arabia assigns 135 imams to provide Hajj guidance

Saudis and foreign residents circumambulate the Kaaba (Tawaf) in the Grand Mosque complex in the holy city of Makkah. (File/Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah/AFP)
Saudis and foreign residents circumambulate the Kaaba (Tawaf) in the Grand Mosque complex in the holy city of Makkah. (File/Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah/AFP)
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Updated 15 July 2021

Saudi Arabia assigns 135 imams to provide Hajj guidance

Saudi Arabia assigns 135 imams to provide Hajj guidance
  • The imams will be available to answer inquiries related to the pilgrimage
  • A phone line has also been set up to provide queries in 10 languages

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Islamic Affairs has assigned 135 scholars and imams to offer religious guidance to pilgrims during the upcoming Hajj.
The imams will be available to answer inquiries related to the pilgrimage.
The move is “in line with the directives of the Saudi leadership to provide all services for pilgrims to perform their rituals with ease and peace of mind,” the ministry said.
A phone line has also been set up to provide automated responses to pilgims queries in 10 languages: Arabic, English, French, Turkish, Hindi, Urdu, Hausa, Indonesian, Bengali, Amharic.


Nabd Al-Riyadh shows the present Kingdom on the walls of past

Nabd Al-Riyadh shows the present Kingdom on the walls of past
Updated 31 sec ago

Nabd Al-Riyadh shows the present Kingdom on the walls of past

Nabd Al-Riyadh shows the present Kingdom on the walls of past
  • Nabd Al-Riyadh, which means the pulse of the capital, presents the rich past of the Kingdom since its foundation through more than 400 storytelling visual presentations

RIYADH: Nabd Al-Riyadh, one of Riyadh Season’s 14 zones, opened its doors for visitors this week to take them on a visually enhanced journey to explore the history, heritage and culture of Saudi Arabia.

The zone, which is free, was a popular feature of Riyadh Season when it first appeared in 2019. This year it has been given an extra touch of music and shows from all around the world to accompany the Saudi folklore and keep the visitors entertained.

Nabd Al-Riyadh, which means the pulse of the capital, presents the rich past of the Kingdom since its foundation through more than 400 storytelling visual presentations. The zone perfectly embodies Saudi cultural traditions and heritage with an artistic simulation of its history projected on the walls of Masmak Palace.

Abdulhameed Fouzi, a visitor from Tabuk, said that Masmak Palace “is one of the places I really wanted to visit and see in person.”

“Masmak Palace is often where the people pledged allegiance to their kings. This is where everything used to happen in the past,” said Rana Al-Wakeel, another visitor.

The zone offers entertainment for individuals, families, and children with musical performances and art shows that will continue until mid-January 2022.

The events at Nabd Al-Riyadh include the Safat Square, which has sand painting, Rubik’s square painting, “3D” street art, glitter art and theatrical and musical performances, as well as the Safat Caffe, which serves traditional drinks and sweets.

The Al-Masmak Square area includes artistic, theatrical, and interactive performances, while the Nabd Al-Riyadh theatre features more than 30 Saudi and international bands, orchestras and singers.


Probe launched after Saudi Arabia records first omicron variant case

Probe launched after Saudi Arabia records first omicron variant case
Updated 17 sec ago

Probe launched after Saudi Arabia records first omicron variant case

Probe launched after Saudi Arabia records first omicron variant case
  • At this stage, prevention is better than cure and standard precautions must continue to be practiced, says Health Ministry spokesman

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia has launched a health probe after reporting the country’s first positive case of the omicron COVID-19 variant.

The Kingdom joined more than 21 other nations in recording an omicron infection after a Saudi national who flew in on a passenger plane from a north African country tested positive.

The individual was placed in isolation, along with a number of other people they had been in contact with, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

“An epidemiological investigation has started, and the case was sent to quarantine, where accredited health procedures were followed,” the SPA report said.

During a specially convened Saudi Ministry of Health press conference, ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly said there was still much to learn about the new variant and warned against spreading false information about it.

“Health experts across the world and the Kingdom are closely monitoring the situation and more research needs to be done to determine its lethality. At this stage, prevention is better than the cure and standard precautions must continue to be practiced,” he added.

Dr. Abdullah Algaissi, a virologist and assistant professor at Jazan University’s college of medical sciences, recently told Arab News: “Based on what we know from the genetic sequencing, we don’t have information that could tell us if these mutations will make the virus more lethal, more transmissible, if it will impact the immune response either after infection or vaccination. As of now, we don’t know.”

Al-Aly pointed out the importance of people completing vaccination programs and recommended that anyone who had gone six months since having their second jab should receive a booster, especially those aged over 65.

HIGHLIGHT

Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly urged people to keep a check on their health status via the ministry approved Tawakkalna app, to self-isolate where necessary, and continue to follow precautionary measures brought in at the start of the pandemic.

Health officials have said that third doses offer increased protection against COVID-19 and can prevent infection or milder illness with symptoms.

According to the US CDC, data from clinical trials showed that a booster shot increased the immune response in trial participants who finished a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna primary series six months earlier or who received a Johnson and Johnson/Janssen single-dose vaccine two months earlier.

With an increased immune response, people should have improved protection against COVID-19, including the delta variant. For Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson and Johnson/Janssen, clinical trials also revealed that a booster jab helped prevent COVID-19 with symptoms.

To date, more than 47.4 million vaccine doses have been administered in Saudi Arabia.

Al-Aly urged people to keep a check on their health status via the ministry-approved Tawakkalna app, to self-isolate where necessary, and continue to follow precautionary measures brought in at the start of the pandemic.

“Masks continue to be a very important protective measure against any infection,” he added.

Health officials are stationed at the Kingdom’s ports to check the temperatures of arriving passengers.

News of the omicron case came as Saudi Arabia lifted a ban on direct travel from India, Egypt, Pakistan, Brazil, Vietnam, and Indonesia although arrivals would need to enter institutional quarantine for five days.

On Wednesday, the Kingdom reported 34 new COVID-19 cases and 26 recoveries. One death was recorded, and 39 patients remained in critical condition.


KSrelief sends 40 tons of liquid oxygen to Tunisia

KSrelief sends 40 tons of liquid oxygen to Tunisia
Updated 01 December 2021

KSrelief sends 40 tons of liquid oxygen to Tunisia

KSrelief sends 40 tons of liquid oxygen to Tunisia
  • Tunisian Health Minister Ali Mrabet noted that this assistance comes at a critical time when the world is preparing for a new health crisis with the spread of the omicron variant of the virus
  • Saudi Ambassador to Tunisia Dr. Abdul Aziz bin Ali Al-Saqr said that the assistance embodies the deep-rooted fraternal ties that exist between the two countries

TUNIS: Following a directive from King Salman, KSrelief has sent a shipment of medical aid to Tunisia, including 40 tons of liquid oxygen, part of an eventual supply of 200 tons, to assist the Tunisian medical sector in combating the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Tunisian Health Minister Ali Mrabet and Saudi Ambassador to Tunisia Dr. Abdul Aziz bin Ali Al-Saqr were among those officials present to receive the aid.

The Tunisian health minister expressed his appreciation and gratitude for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s medical assistance.

Mrabet noted that this assistance comes at a critical time when the world is preparing for a new health crisis with the spread of the omicron variant of the virus.

For his part, Al-Saqr said that the assistance embodies the deep-rooted fraternal ties that exist between the two countries.


King Abdulaziz Royal Reserve reveals its treasures at falconry festival

King Abdulaziz Royal Reserve reveals its treasures at falconry festival
Updated 15 min 57 sec ago

King Abdulaziz Royal Reserve reveals its treasures at falconry festival

King Abdulaziz Royal Reserve reveals its treasures at falconry festival
  • The reserve is known for its broad geographical scope, which includes Al-Tanhat, Al-Khafs, Noura parks, and parts of the Al-Summan plateau and the Al-Dahna desert, covering approximately 28,000 sq. km

RIYADH: King Abdulaziz Royal Reserve has opened its doors to reveal its treasures to visitors at the King Abdulaziz Falconry Festival.

The festival, held at the headquarters of the Saudi Falcons Club in Mulham, north of Riyadh, is running until Dec. 16.

The reserve is known for its broad geographical scope, which includes Al-Tanhat, Al-Khafs, Noura parks, and parts of the Al-Summan plateau and the Al-Dahna desert, covering approximately 28,000 sq. km. 

The wild animals and birds include the steppe eagle, the griffon vulture, the Arabian oryx, the goitered gazelle, the Arabian wolf, the sand cat, the Arabian red fox, honey badger, and porcupines.

The King Abdulaziz Royal Reserve hosts ample vegetation, such as perennial ruminant, wild sidr, bitter melon, acacia, ragweed, grass, buttercup, lavender, star anthracnose, which is famous in Chinese medicine, and the thorny ladder tree that can reach up to five meters in height.

The reserve is also known for its topography, sites, and parks for visitors to the King Abdulaziz Falconry Festival, including the Al-Dahna Desert, famed for its dunes, the Al-Summan plateau east of the Najd Plateau, and Rawdat Al-Tanhat, known as the King’s Forest known due to its lush and fertile land.

The reserve also includes Qalta rock formations — also known as the Qalta Umm Qalidah — east of Tamir. It is characterized by natural carvings that have become waterfalls, which look like natural pools amid the eroded rocks.

The fourth day of the festival showed fierce competition between falcons in the speed category. In the first round, the first-place winner in the 400-meter run came in at a speed of 19.125 seconds, second place followed closely with 19.224 seconds, while the third place hit 19.261 seconds.

Winner of first place in the second round went to a falcon that crossed the 400-meter run at a speed of 18.650 seconds. Second place went to a time of 18.671 seconds, with third place going to a time difference of no more than 0.2 seconds.

The festival allocated financial prizes of about SR25 million ($6.66 million) to the winners of the Al-Milwah and Al-Mazayen competitions, and for the champion of the King Abdulaziz Cup.


Saudi authorities seize massive drug haul hidden in cardamom container

Saudi authorities seize massive drug haul hidden in cardamom container
Updated 01 December 2021

Saudi authorities seize massive drug haul hidden in cardamom container

Saudi authorities seize massive drug haul hidden in cardamom container
  • GDNC seize over 30 million pills after investigation into a criminal network

RIYADH: Saudi anti-narcotics authorities thwarted an attempt to smuggle more than 30 million amphetamine pills into the Kingdom.

Maj. Mohammad Al-Nujaidi, spokesperson for the General Directorate of Narcotics Control, said that proactive investigation into the criminal network’s activities, which attempt to tamper with the security of the Kingdom and its youths, has thwarted an attempt to smuggle 30.3 million amphetamine pills hidden inside a cardamom container at Riyadh Dry Port.

The successful operation was launched in coordination with the Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority, where the recipients of the shipment — two Saudis and two Syrians — were arrested.

Al-Nujaidi said that the preliminary legal measures have been taken against them and they have been referred to the public prosecution.

Recently, the Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority at Al-Haditha port also foiled eight attempts to smuggle more than 4.4 million Captagon pills into the Kingdom.

The GDNC called on members of the public to help its mission and protect society by contacting the designated number for security reports (1910), email ([email protected]) or by using the international number (00966114208417).

Whistleblowers can report smuggling and customs violations through these channels in strict confidentiality, and will receive a financial reward if their information is correct.