Pilgrims express joy at selection to perform virus-curtailed Hajj

Those selected for this year’s Hajj had to meet a number of specific requirements which included having been fully jabbed against COVID-19. (SPA)
Those selected for this year’s Hajj had to meet a number of specific requirements which included having been fully jabbed against COVID-19. (SPA)
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Updated 18 July 2021

Pilgrims express joy at selection to perform virus-curtailed Hajj

Those selected for this year’s Hajj had to meet a number of specific requirements which included having been fully jabbed against COVID-19. (SPA)
  • Just 60,000 of 500,000 Hajj applicants were chosen to participate in the annual pilgrimage

JEDDAH: Pilgrims specially picked to perform this year’s Hajj have described their joy at being given the chance to carry out the holy ritual amid the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Due to the global health crisis, Saudi Arabia has only allowed a select number of worshippers to take part in the annual pilgrimage.
Just 60,000 of 500,000 Hajj applicants were chosen to participate in the religious event that attracted approximately 2.5 million pilgrims in 2019 alone.
Those selected for this year’s Hajj had to meet a number of specific requirements which included having been fully jabbed against COVID-19 with any of the Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
Um Azzam, 53, and her husband Abu, from Riyadh, were both given the green light to attend Hajj.
She told Arab News: “We received the text message on the night of June 24 and the feeling was completely indescribable joy and happiness. We were hoping and praying to perform Hajj and our prayers were answered.
“Why should we be afraid (of performing Hajj during the pandemic) when we trust in Allah and are delegated to him? On top of that, we have taken our vaccines and trust in the precautionary measures.”

I’m not saying it isn’t possible to get infected, but it definitely wasn’t a concern of mine because I felt safe with the number of people going and the strict precautionary measures we must follow.

Um Mazin

Mariam Mohammed, and her mother Um Mazin, an American citizen living in the Kingdom, were also selected to visit Makkah and the 24-year-old, from the Eastern Province, said it would be her first trip to the holy city as a pilgrim.
“I’m so excited. I’ve always wanted to perform Hajj but, for some reason, it just never worked out. But it did this time.
“I don’t feel scared or nervous. I wouldn’t let my fear of being infected (with COVID-19) stop me from taking this opportunity. I could literally get COVID-19 in my own city, so I might as well perform a powerful religious task,” she added.
And her mother said the threat of contracting COVID-19 had never crossed her mind when submitting her Hajj application. “I’m not saying it isn’t possible to get infected, but it definitely wasn’t a concern of mine because I felt safe with the number of people going and the strict precautionary measures we must follow.

We received the text message on the night of June 24 and the feeling was completely indescribable joy and happiness. We were hoping and praying to perform Hajj and our prayers were answered.

Um Azzam

“I also assume that since the government has done so well in controlling the virus, it will be even more careful when it comes to the Hajj season.”
She noted that her daughter’s application had initially been turned down due to her Saudi nationality.
“It was explained to us that there were too many Saudis attending Hajj and they (Saudi authorities) wanted to give the chance for others to perform too. I had no idea that they had a quota for non-Saudis, although it’s actually a great idea.”
Mohammed’s rejection was later overturned due to her relationship with a non-Saudi pilgrim, her American mom.
However, Abu Hassan, 55, from Jeddah, was not so lucky. He told Arab News that he had registered for Hajj online but despite being at first accepted he later received a message to say his application had been unsuccessful.
He said: “It was disappointing at first, of course. The last time I performed Hajj was over 28 years ago, so I was really excited to go this year, especially with this amount of people.
“I appreciate a lot of what they (the government) have done in the process of registering electronically. And attending Hajj this year wasn’t meant to be, Allah has other plans for me, so I’ve fully accepted the outcome,” he added.
But for Mohammed Al-Hokair, 22, from Riyadh, the outcome was better. “We heard on the news that Hajj this year would still be going ahead, so everyone in my family, my parents, sister and I, immediately began the registration process.”
He and his sister’s applications were initially refused but they were then accepted because he was registered as a companion to assist his parents.
“We got the approval three Fridays ago and at first I was feeling nervous. But that didn’t last and now I feel very secure and safe.
“The rule for performing the pilgrimage is at least once in a lifetime for whoever is capable, and I am capable and got the opportunity, so why shouldn’t I go? I mean, this is a plan from Allah and so if I’m meant to attend Hajj this year, no matter what, I will attend it. And this will be my first time, so I am also feeling excited now,” Al-Hokair said.
However, he pointed out that many of his friends and family members had not been so fortunate.


President Macron’s visit to Saudi Arabia signals new era in French-Saudi cooperation

President Macron’s visit to Saudi Arabia signals new era in French-Saudi cooperation
Updated 05 December 2021

President Macron’s visit to Saudi Arabia signals new era in French-Saudi cooperation

President Macron’s visit to Saudi Arabia signals new era in French-Saudi cooperation
  • Wide-ranging joint statement and slew of agreements testify to a growing Saudi-French bilateral partnership
  • Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and President Macron held telephone meeting with Lebanon PM Najib Mikati

JEDDAH: A joint statement covering a wide range of issues and the signing of a slew of agreements were the highlights of a visit to Saudi Arabia by French President Emmanuel Macron during the final leg of a two-day Gulf tour.

The agreements related to economic cooperation were announced by Saudi and French companies on Saturday while Macron held talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The crown prince met Macron at Al-Salam Palace, where they discussed bilateral cooperation and held a telephone call with Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati.

The three countries agreed to work together to support comprehensive reforms necessary in Lebanon, according to official reports, which added that Saudi Arabia and France emphasized their keen desire to see security and stability prevail in the country.

French President Emmanuel Macron met Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as the president continued his multi-country tour of the Gulf. (SPA)

“The two sides stressed … that reforms should include the sectors of finance, energy, combating corruption and border control. The two sides also agreed to work with Lebanon to ensure the implementation of these measures,” the joint statement, carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), said.

“They also emphasized the need to limit arms to legitimate institutions of the state, and that Lebanon should not be a launching pad for any terrorist acts that destabilize the security and stability of the region, or a source of drug trafficking.

“They also … agreed to establish a Saudi-French mechanism for humanitarian assistance that ensures complete transparency, and expressed their determination to find appropriate mechanisms in cooperation with friendly countries and allies to alleviate the suffering of the Lebanese people.”

Saudi Arabia and France have committed to enhancing cultural cooperation and exchange across a broad range of cultural fields. (SPA)

On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, “the two sides reiterated their support for achieving peace in the Middle East, and the importance of reaching a comprehensive settlement … to be based on the two-state solution, the relevant legitimate resolutions and Arab Peace Initiative in a way that ensures the right of the Palestinian people to establish their state on 1967 borders with East Al-Quds (Jerusalem) as its capital, calling, in this context, for an end to the Israeli settlement policy that threatens the two-state solution.”

With regard to Iran, the joint statement said: “The two sides expressed their deep concern over the development of the Iranian nuclear program and the lack of cooperation and transparency with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

INNUMBERS

$4.37bn French direct investment in KSA economy.

“France stressed its determination not to allow Iran to develop or acquire a nuclear weapon. They also agreed on the need to confront Iran's destabilizing activities in the region, including the use and transfer of drones and ballistic missiles that led to attacks on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

Addressing the Yemen crisis, the statement said “France affirmed its full support for the Saudi peace initiative that was presented on March 22, 2021, and condemned the ballistic missile and drone attacks launched by Houthi militia and affirmed its historical commitment to preserving the security of the Kingdom.”

In other developments on Saturday, Dr. Mohammed bin Saud Al-Tamimi, CEO of the Saudi Space Commission, and Philippe Baptiste, CEO of the French National Center for Space Studies, signed a joint cooperation agreement in the field of the peaceful use of outer space, according to the SPA.

The Saudi Arabia, France and Lebanon agreed to work together to support comprehensive reforms necessary in the mediterranean country. (SPA)

The agreement “aims to provide a framework for cooperation in space activities in the peaceful uses of space, facilitate the exchange of information and technologies, contribute to capacity building and competencies, organize mutual visits and meetings, hold training courses and specialized workshops, as well as the joint cooperation to develop a mechanism for space-based climate monitoring.”

The SPA also reported that a memorandum of understanding was signed on Saturday that cements cultural
relations between Saudi Arabia and France. “Coming only weeks after Saudi Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Farhan Al-Saud met with his French counterpart, Dr. Roselyn Bachelot, in Paris, the MoU is the latest example of strengthening cultural ties between the two countries,” the report said.

It added: “Under the five-year agreement, Saudi Arabia and France have committed to enhancing cultural cooperation and exchange across a broad range of cultural fields, including architecture, audiovisual production, design, film, heritage, literature, performing arts and visual arts.

The crown prince met the French president at Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah. (SPA)

“In addition, the MoU will facilitate the two countries to explore cultural regulations and policies. There will also be opportunities to increase the participation of Saudi and French artists in residency exchange programs and strengthen cooperation between artists and cultural institutions in both countries.”

The SPA said that a separate agreement to enhance tourism cooperation between the two countries was co-signed by Ahmed Al-Khateeb, the Saudi tourism minister, and Franck Riester, the French minister delegate for foreign trade and economic attractiveness.

It quoted Al-Khateeb as saying: "France, through its knowledge and experience, will help the Kingdom in developing its tourism activity to attract investments with a cost of $810 billion, which will provide the country with tourism opportunities outside the Hajj season. The Kingdom is expected to have new investment opportunities with a cost of $6 trillion by 2030, and this is a matter of excitement.”


Saudi Translation Forum: Language plays ‘crucial role’ in shaping society

The forum hosted engaging panel discussions that explored the role of translation in bridging cultures. (SPA)
The forum hosted engaging panel discussions that explored the role of translation in bridging cultures. (SPA)
Updated 05 December 2021

Saudi Translation Forum: Language plays ‘crucial role’ in shaping society

The forum hosted engaging panel discussions that explored the role of translation in bridging cultures. (SPA)
  • First Saudi Translation Forum discusses future of industry

RIYADH: The first Saudi Translation Forum recently concluded in Riyadh, wherein translation experts, both local and international, gathered for the two-day event to examine the main issues and challenges facing the global translation industry.

The forum was held under the patronage of Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan, minister of culture, and organized by the Literature, Publishing and Translation Commission at the Ministry of Education.

The forum was inaugurated by the commission’s CEO Dr. Mohammed Hasan Alwan, who, in his opening speech, emphasized the importance of translation and the need to modernize the industry.

He pointed to the efforts of the commission to take the Saudi translation sector to the highest level of professionalism.


“We are proud to have hosted the first successful edition of the Translation Forum. It has been a true honor to bring together some of the top experts in the translation sector to discuss ways we can work together to advance the sector. Saudi Arabia has one of the biggest translation and publishing markets in the region, and we are exerting all efforts to grow the sector even more through nurturing and encouraging local writers and translators, forging international collaborations, and developing a supportive regulatory framework,” said Alwan.

HIGHLIGHT

As part of the forum, the Literature, Publishing and Translation Commission organized the Kingdom’s first audiovisual translation challenge for students, amateurs, and professionals in the field. During the two-day ‘Motivation Challenge,’ teams of two to three members competed in translating short film clips discussing Saudi culture and history from Arabic into English, French, Spanish, and Korean.

Speaking to Arab News on challenges facing the global translation community, Prof. Brian James Baer, president of the American Translation and Interpretation Association and an expert at the forum, said: “One of the big problems that we are facing is stagnant income for translators, and in a broader sense, a lack of understanding of what translation is. People don’t understand what is involved in translation.

“Many think that translation is simply linguistic matching, and they don’t understand that language is asymmetrical, and you need to manage this asymmetry. So, it is always going to be a very creative decision-making process,” he said, confirming what other speakers at the forum noted regarding the creativity involved in translation and the current limits of machine translation, especially of literary works.

“I believe that we all have an investment in what I call translation literacy so that everyone understands better what is involved. Publishers should give translators credible visibility, allow them to improve notes, and in general, we should teach translation in foreign languages departments.”

On the impact of new technology, Baer said that digitization and globalization have exponentially increased the volume of texts that are translated.

“We need to use technology wisely and understand that it will create new job opportunities for translators editing and revising both human and machine-translated texts,” he said.

The forum hosted engaging panel discussions and interactive workshops that presented new tools and techniques in the fields of literary translation, news translation, political translation, and language interpretation.

Discussions highlighted international best practices in using translation technologies and computer-assisted translation tools.

It explored the role of translation in bridging cultures and the regulations governing the industry.

Dr. Mohammed Al-Barakati, one of the panelists, said that language and translation play a “crucial role” in shaping society and culture, while Prof. Martha Lucia Pulido Correa commented that Europeans owe much to Islam because of the translation efforts that bridged linguistic gaps between the two cultures.

In a panel discussion titled “The Role of Translation in Sports,” professionals in sports translation agreed that this field has a bright future in Saudi Arabia.

In terms of publicity and marketing, speakers stressed the importance of having interpreters in football clubs, highlighting the diversity of the players and how this helps clubs gain popularity internationally.

During the session titled “Audiovisual Translation: Profession/Hobby,” academics and audiovisual translation experts stressed the necessity of cross-sector collaboration for the industry’s success.

As part of the forum, the Literature, Publishing and Translation Commission organized the Kingdom’s first audiovisual translation challenge for students, amateurs, and professionals in the field.

During the two-day “Motivation Challenge,” teams of two to three members competed in translating short film clips discussing Saudi culture and history from Arabic into English, French, Spanish, and Korean. Prizes ranged from SR5,500 ($1,466) to SR20,000 for winners in two tracks: amateurs/students and professionals.

The forum hosted 10 workshops to develop attendees’ skills in a number of areas, including the applications of media and news translation, transition project management, conference interpreting, and strategies of critical multimodal discourse analysis of audiovisual texts.

An accompanying exhibition was a part of the forum to foster ties between associations.


Leading contemporary thinkers to explore philosophy at Riyadh conference

King Fahd National Library. (Twitter: @KFNLGOV)
King Fahd National Library. (Twitter: @KFNLGOV)
Updated 05 December 2021

Leading contemporary thinkers to explore philosophy at Riyadh conference

King Fahd National Library. (Twitter: @KFNLGOV)
  • The Riyadh Philosophy Conference program will cover an array of interactive plenary sessions and workshops, tackling contemporary issues that highlight how philosophy can help us understand the world we live in

RIYADH: Leading contemporary philosophers will gather in Riyadh for a first-of-its-kind conference at King Fahd National Library.

The three-day event between Dec. 8 to 10 will gather the renowned international and regional thinkers and institutions in Saudi Arabia for the first time to discuss the most pressing contemporary philosophical debates under the theme “unpredictability.”

The Ministry of Culture and its Literature, Publishing, and Translation Commission is organizing the conference to establish the Kingdom as a center for philosophical dialogue in the region, encouraging the advancement of scientific and academic research around philosophy, as well as encouraging interest in philosophy and its relevance to all our lives.

On the announcement of the conference, Mohamed Hassan Alwan, CEO of the commission said: “Our mission is to promote philosophy across a wide range of thinkers and bring critical philosophical debates to Saudi Arabia for the first time, promoting intercultural and interdisciplinary dialogues. We also want to introduce philosophy to members of the public who might not have had exposure to it before and promote philosophical thinking, its methods and tools, and how it can be used to empower the youth.”

The Riyadh Philosophy Conference program will cover an array of interactive plenary sessions and workshops, tackling contemporary issues that highlight how philosophy can help us understand the world we live in.

Sessions will cover “The Human Condition: Unpredictable Encounters,” and several discussions are focussed on the impact of COVID-19, including “Beyond the Global Pandemic: Responding Ethically to the Unprecedented.”

Leading philosophical thinkers from universities across the globe will be participating, including the University of Pretoria, Harvard University, The University of Turin, SOAS, Cairo University, King Saud University and many more.

The Riyadh Philosophy Conference will see over 1,500 guests per day, ranging from academics and students to cultural leaders and publishers. In addition to the curated plenary sessions, the event will also feature exhibitor stands hosted by local and international partners, and a number of experiential activations including a reading village, and children’s zone designed to instil the value of philosophical thought amongst the next generation.  

The event will be open to the public and will feature a variety of accessible lectures exploring relevant topics that will demonstrate the significance of philosophy in today’s world and show its ability to help answer key contemporary questions facing humanity.


Who’s Who: Ghada Alrumayan, executive director at ROSHN

Ghada Alrumayan. (Supplied)
Ghada Alrumayan. (Supplied)
Updated 05 December 2021

Who’s Who: Ghada Alrumayan, executive director at ROSHN

Ghada Alrumayan. (Supplied)

Ghada Alrumayan is executive director of marketing and communications at the national community developer, ROSHN.
With more than a decade of experience in the communications arena, Alrumayan is an expert at building enduring relationships within the public and private sectors, and enhancing the impact and reputation of organizations.
Alrumayan joined ROSHN in July 2021. She oversees the marketing and communications activity of the company at a time when it is implementing one of the largest residential real estate projects in the world.
Alrumayan joined ROSHN from Riyad Bank, where she was senior vice president of public relations, communications and events. She formulated and implemented the bank’s communications strategies, creating credible impressions of expertise and transparency for investors, the public and bank employees.
Between 2018 and 2019, she led the strategic partnerships and supply chain department for the Olayan Group, and from 2014 to 2017 she managed corporate communications for the Olayan Financing Co.
Between 2013 and 2014 Alrumayan was marketing manager for Kempinski Hotels, based in Riyadh. Between 2012 and 2013 she was corporate communications manager at Saudi Hollandi Bank, where she was responsible for internal corporate social responsibility, as well as the bank’s integrated external communications plan.
Alrumayan also held the position of director of social development at the Atheeb Group between 2010 and 2011, competency manager at Etihad Atheeb Telecom Co. between 2009 and 2011, and social worker at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center between 2002 and 2008.
She graduated from the College of Social Services in 2001, attaining a bachelor’s degree in social services, as well as an executive certificate in sustainable business planning and strategy from the Harvard Business School.

 


French culture minister visits historic Jeddah

French culture minister visits historic Jeddah
Updated 04 December 2021

French culture minister visits historic Jeddah

French culture minister visits historic Jeddah
  • Bachelot toured various old parts of Jeddah, known locally as Al-Balad
  • The minister also visited Beit Nassif and Al-Shafei Mosque

JEDDAH: French Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot visited Jeddah on Saturday during her visit to Saudi Arabia.  

Bachelot toured various old parts of the city, known locally as Al-Balad, visiting its historic houses and viewing authentic building patterns reflecting the identity and heritage of the region.  

The minister also visited Beit Nassif and Al-Shafei Mosque, where she was briefed on the various facilities, neighborhoods and landmarks that still exist today, and listened to an explanation about the excavation of antiquities carried out across Jeddah. 

Al-Balad, downtown Jeddah and the Gate to Makkah, is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Last month, Saudi Culture Minister Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan praised the strong relations between the Kingdom and France, including their respective cultural heritages, during his meeting with Bachelot in Paris.

The prince discussed ways to strengthen cultural cooperation between the two countries, including through exchange programs and the Historic Jeddah Revival Project, in addition to research and capabilities development.