Hajj pilgrims reach Muzdalifah after spending day at Arafat

 Pilgrims performed Maghrib and Isha prayers in Muzdalifah. (AN photo)
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Masha’r Haram Mosque in Muzdalifah. (SPA)
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Masha’r Haram Mosque in Muzdalifah. (SPA)
Hajj pilgrims reach Muzdalifah after spending day at Arafat
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Masha’r Haram Mosque in Muzdalifah. (SPA)
Hajj pilgrims reach Muzdalifah after spending day at Arafat
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Masha’r Haram Mosque in Muzdalifah. (SPA)
Hajj pilgrims reach Muzdalifah after spending day at Arafat
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Masha’r Haram Mosque in Muzdalifah. (SPA)
Hajj pilgrims reach Muzdalifah after spending day at Arafat
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Masha’r Haram Mosque in Muzdalifah. (SPA)
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Updated 20 July 2021

Hajj pilgrims reach Muzdalifah after spending day at Arafat

Hajj pilgrims reach Muzdalifah after spending day at Arafat
  • The pilgrims move from Muzdalifah back to Mina, starting from midnight on Monday
  • In Muzdalifah, the pilgrims collect pebbles for the stoning of the devil ritual at the Jamarat area in Mina

MUZDALIFAH: After spending around 12 hours on the plains of Arafat on Monday for the most important part of Hajj, 60,000 people went to Muzdalifah in preparation for the final stages of this year’s pilgrimage.

Minutes after sunset on the ninth day of Dhul Hijjah, the pilgrims began moving to the open but rocky plains of Muzdalifah, where they pray Maghrib and Isha.

The caravan of buses, each carrying 20 pilgrims, arrived in Muzdalifah. On each bus there is a guide whose task it is to help pilgrims with all information they need and ensure they are socially distanced.

The buses were accompanied by security patrols, and there was a time interval between buses for a smooth traffic flow.




Rasha Musbah, an Egyptian driving trainer at Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University in Riyadh said that was lucky to join this year’s Hajj. (AN photo)

In Muzdalifah, the pilgrims collect pebbles for the stoning of the devil ritual at the Jamarat area in Mina. The first day in Mina, the 10th of Dhul Hijjah, marks the first day of Eid Al-Adha.

Saudi Health Minister Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah told Al-Ekhbariya TV channel that no coronavirus cases had been detected among the pilgrims during this Hajj.

“There were some minor cases of tiredness due to the physical exertion, but the pilgrims with such simple cases left hospitals shortly after they received the necessary treatment,” he said.

Dr. Abdul-Fattah Mashat, deputy minister of Hajj and Umrah, said that all pilgrims were transported from Mina to Arafat in three hours. More than 1,700 buses brought the pilgrims from Arafat to Muzdalifah, he added.

“Immediately after sundown, the pilgrims started to board the buses that were made ready some three hours earlier.”

The pilgrims move from Muzdalifah back to Mina, starting from midnight on Monday.

“These buses will take them to their camps in Mina, from where they can move to the Jamarat area. There, they will use three floors of the Jamarat construction to do the stoning. We have divided the pilgrims into color-coded groups. Each group will throw (stones at) the pillar from a predefined floor and from a particular place to avoid accumulation of pilgrims.”

Mashat praised the pilgrims for sticking to the regulations and following instructions on mask wearing and social distancing.

Sheikh Bandar Baleela, imam of the midday prayers at Namirah Mosque, focused his Arafah sermon on urging Muslims to do good to all creatures, including animals and inanimate objects.




Dr. Nahla Mohammed Abdullah, an Egyptian anesthetist and intensive care physician at King Abdul Aziz Specialist hospital in Taif. (AN photo)

Baleela added that King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman were keen to make this Hajj season secure and safe.

Shahid Nazir Gill, a Canadian pilgrim living and working in Yanbu, said the hospitality and support on offer was remarkable.

“I would like to express my gratitude to the Saudi government for everything they have done for us. Their efforts, especially during the pandemic, are highly appreciated,” Gill told Arab News.

Rasha Musbah, an Egyptian driving instructor at Princess Nourah bin Abdulrahman University in Riyadh, said she was lucky to join this year’s Hajj.

“The services are amazing,” she told Arab News. “Organization, hygiene and all other services are at high levels. All the people here are helpful, beginning from the security men to cleaning workers.”

She added that pilgrims were abiding by the health measures and expressed hope that the pandemic would soon end.

But there were also mixed feelings about this year’s Hajj.

“When my husband and I first registered, we were not among the first approved group,” Dr. Nahla Mohammed Abdullah, an Egyptian anesthetist and intensive care physician at King Abdul Aziz Specialist hospital in Taif, told Arab News. “We were sad to know that.”

While she received a message two days later confirming that her Hajj request was approved, her husband’s request was unfortunately rejected.


Saudi Arabia announces 2 more COVID-19 deaths

Saudi Arabia announces 2 more COVID-19 deaths
Updated 16 October 2021

Saudi Arabia announces 2 more COVID-19 deaths

Saudi Arabia announces 2 more COVID-19 deaths
  • The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom has increased to 536,900
  • A total of 8,760 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced two deaths from COVID-19 and 45 new infections on Saturday.

Of the new cases, 20 were recorded in Riyadh, five in Jeddah, two in Tabuk, two in Makkah, two in Al-Khobar, and two in Yanbu. Several other cities recorded one new case each.

The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom increased to 536,900 after 41 more patients recovered from the virus.

A total of 8,760 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far.

Over 44.4 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine have been administered in the Kingdom to date.


KSA, Egypt discuss environmental cooperation

KSA, Egypt discuss environmental cooperation
Updated 16 October 2021

KSA, Egypt discuss environmental cooperation

KSA, Egypt discuss environmental cooperation
  • The men praised their countries’ successful cooperation in the field of environmental protection

CAIRO: Egypt’s Environment Minister Yasmine Fouad and her Saudi counterpart Abdulrahman Al-Fadley discussed environmental cooperation between their two countries.

They praised their countries’ successful cooperation in the field of environmental protection, with Fouad saying the environment is a priority for Egypt’s leadership.

She also welcomed cooperation with Saudi Arabia in terms of converting waste into energy.

The two sides discussed cooperation in the fields of coastal management, marine policies, environmental monitoring, management of chemicals and hazardous waste, and integration of environmental knowledge into educational curricula.

Al-Fadley expressed his aspiration to cooperate with Egypt in the field of water desalination and reusing extracted salt.

The two sides agreed to focus on cooperating to preserve the Red Sea, with Fouad noting its richness in coral reefs and marine life.


Saudi envoy to UK details rapid modernization under crown prince

Saudi envoy to UK details rapid modernization under crown prince
Updated 16 October 2021

Saudi envoy to UK details rapid modernization under crown prince

Saudi envoy to UK details rapid modernization under crown prince
  • Prince Khalid: “We have a very young population. They want a different world”
  • “I grew up with religious police telling us what to do, but now it’s about letting people make their own choices”

LONDON: The Saudi ambassador to Britain has praised the wide-ranging modernization efforts carried out by the Kingdom’s leadership.

“In the last five years the pace has been huge — 1,000 laws have been altered or removed,” Prince Khalid bin Bandar bin Sultan told The Times.

“There is a misconception about Saudi that we never change, but going back 100 years it’s been dramatic. My grandfather went to work on horseback, my father flew fast fighter jets, and my cousin went into space.”

Prince Khalid said the way the Kingdom legislates for women is also changing. “Just before I was posted here (in the UK), I went back for two days and I called one of my sisters and said, ‘Let’s go for a coffee. Shall I come and pick you up?’ and she said, ‘No, I’ve got my car.’ It brought a real smile to my face,” he said.

“Ten years ago it would have been unthinkable for her to have a job, let alone drive. We are still a very conservative society but we have a very young population. They want a different world.”

The ambassador, who attended the prestigious Eton College before Oxford University and Sandhurst, said: “I feel very Saudi, but I was brought up in the West.” 

His links to Britain are strong, not only through being educated in the UK but also through his English wife Lucy Cuthbert, a niece of the duke of Northumberland.

Prince Khalid has seen some of the modernization he witnessed in Britain appearing in his homeland, including mobile phones, which he said have made a huge difference to Saudi society.

“We have one of the highest percentages of phones per capita in the world, nearly three phones per person,” he added.

“The young are all over Instagram. In my generation, there wasn’t much entertainment at home so we had to go abroad. Now the young want to go to shops and cinemas, and there has been an explosion of events,” he said.

“There are women-only sections but no enforced separation. I grew up with religious police telling us what to do, but now it’s about letting people make their own choices.”

He told The Times that his sister said she “discovered there wasn’t a glass ceiling — it was more of a soft tent and she could push it out.”

The ambassador said 34 percent of the Saudi workforce is made up of women, dramatically leaping from 18 percent in 2016.

“We have had our first graduation for women in the army, there are women in government, in the police, we are training female judges, we have an equal opportunities and equal pay law,” he added.

Prince Khalid also detailed the rapid expansion of the Saudi tourism industry, including the giga-projects being planned. 

“In 2019 we launched our tourist visa online. We issued 440,000 visas before the pandemic started, 60,000 to the UK,” he said.

“We are developing resorts with a Red Sea project and NEOM, a new futuristic city. Saudi Arabia is the size of Western Europe. We also have 330 heritage sites.” These giga-projects are part of $7 trillion of investment under the Vision 2030 reform plan.

The Kingdom is expected to participate in the UN Climate Change conference, also known as Cop26, in Glasgow later this month. 

“We decided to move away from fossil fuels in 2016. We don’t want to be an oil provider but an energy provider,” said Prince Khalid. “We have committed to producing 50 percent of our energy by renewable sources by 2030.”


Who’s Who: Alaa Abdulaal, VP at the global Digital Cooperation Organization

Who’s Who: Alaa Abdulaal, VP at the global Digital Cooperation Organization
Updated 16 October 2021

Who’s Who: Alaa Abdulaal, VP at the global Digital Cooperation Organization

Who’s Who: Alaa Abdulaal, VP at the global Digital Cooperation Organization

Alaa Abdulaal has been the vice president of strategy and governance at the Digital Cooperation Organization since September 2021.

The organization, a global multilateral entity that aims at increasing social prosperity through accelerating the growth of the digital economy, was established by a group of countries that share an interest in collaborating to realize their collective digital potential. These countries are Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Nigeria, Oman, and Pakistan.

Prior to joining the organization, Abdulaal had served for more than a year as the director of IT strategy and governance at the Ministry of Transport and Logistic Services. For over nine years, beginning in 2011, she worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a database unit leader, technical operation strategist, and a strategic planning and development manager.

In the latter role she established key performance metrics, designed reporting solutions, and promoted the use of structured information to drive enhanced business performance. She also led critical communication development and business reporting.

In 2015, she spent eight months as a research intern at Riva Modeling Systems in Toronto, where she demonstrated a strong interest and aptitude for user experience.

Before that, she worked for more than four years as a database administrator at the Saudi Exchange Market. There, she helped enhance the database’s performance and security. Her job responsibilities also included evaluating the proposed auditing systems and developing the availability process from scratch with the IT service management project consultants. Moreover, she created availability dashboards for Tadawul production services.

Abdulaal received a bachelor’s degree in computer science in 2006 from King Saud University, where she graduated with first class honors. In 2014, she obtained a master’s degree, majoring in applied computing, with the highest GPA result.

She is a certified strategic business planner and a professional business process manager.


Saudi air defenses destroy Houthi drone targeting Jazan

Saudi air defenses destroy Houthi drone targeting Jazan
Updated 16 October 2021

Saudi air defenses destroy Houthi drone targeting Jazan

Saudi air defenses destroy Houthi drone targeting Jazan

RIYADH: Saudi air defenses intercepted a Houthi drone aimed at Jazan, the Arab coalition said early Saturday.

The Houthis consistently target civilian infrastructure in the Kingdom using explosive drones.

The Kingdom has labeled Houthi attempts to target civilians as war crimes.

Earlier this month, attacks on Abha and Jazan airports in southern Saudi Arabia sparked widespread condemnation of the militia’s tactics of targeting civilian sites.

The Arab coalition has been fighting the Iran-backed Houthis, after the militia seized Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, in 2014.

Saudi Arabia as repeatedly said the only way to a peaceful Yemen is through dialogue, and has called on the Houthis to end the fighting. The Riyadh Initiative, which was launch by the Kingdom in March, includes a nationwide ceasefire and a plan to reopen Sanaa airport. The plan has been rejected by the Houthis.

Fighting in Marib province has claimed thousands of lives, among both government and Houthi forces. The resource-rich region has been heavily contested as the militia seek to strengthen their control of northern Yemen.

The Arab coalition said on Friday that ten military vehicles were destroyed and over 180 Houthis killed in operations it carried out in Abedia, a district in Marib that has been under siege since Sept. 23.

The Houthi action in Abedia has hindered the movement of civilians and impeded humanitarian aid flows, including medical supplies, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said earlier this week.

The war, which has now lasted for seven years, has cost thousands of Yemenis their lives and has forced many more to depend on humanitarian assistance.

Saudi relief agency, KSrelief, has poured billions of dollars worth of aid into Yemen and has hundreds of projects focusing on food and health.