Saudi Arabia announces successful completion of Hajj 2021

Saudi Arabia announces successful completion of Hajj 2021
Security, Hajj and health officials have confirmed that all their plans were successfully carried out, and no serious health issues were recorded. (AFP)
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Updated 23 July 2021

Saudi Arabia announces successful completion of Hajj 2021

Saudi Arabia announces successful completion of Hajj 2021
  • Private companies slammed by Hajj Ministry for ‘substandard’ food service offering
  • Ministry pledges to launch investigations and severely punish contractors that failed to meet standards

MINA: Most of this year’s Hajj pilgrims had left Makkah by midday Thursday after performing the farewell circumambulation ritual at the Grand Mosque.

Security, Hajj and health officials have confirmed that all their plans were successfully carried out, and no serious health issues were recorded.

Saudi Minister of Health Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah said that the health plan for this year’s Hajj was a success, with no COVID-19 infection cases identified.

“I would like to announce that this Hajj was successful, with neither coronavirus infection nor any other epidemic diseases reported,” he said.


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• A look into modernization of tawafa profession as Hajj 2021 ends


Before the closing circumambulation of Al-Kaaba, the pilgrims threw pebbles at the three pillars in Mina, with agents representing all the government’s Hajj-related authorities monitoring the stoning process. Throughout the ritual, the pilgrims abided by the precautionary measures. To ensure their safety, the pilgrims performed their second-day ritual in organized groups.

Pilgrims normally spend three days in Mina for the Days of Tashreeq. However, it is permissible to stay for two days on the condition that a pilgrim leaves before the sunset of the second day. 

This is called “Ta’ajol,” or hastened Hajj. Otherwise, they should remain in Mina for the third day, when they are required to repeat the stoning ritual.

HIGHLIGHT

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said that inspection tours uncovered a substandard food service in some Hajj camps. The ministry assured it would impose severe penalties on companies found to be offering a second-rate service.

Beyond the Kingdom’s impressive health and security efforts, some pilgrims were disappointed by the quality of food served by private companies that failed to meet customer expectations. The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said on Twitter that inspection tours uncovered a substandard food service in some Hajj camps.

The ministry assured it would impose severe penalties on companies found to be offering a second-rate service after conducting investigations in coordination with the Saudi Food and Drug Authority and the Makkah Municipality.

“We will also consider reevaluating these private companies. The service providing licenses of these contractors may also be withdrawn,” the ministry said

It added that the services provided by private companies should match the quality of the government authorities in their offer to pilgrim.

 


Saudi space sector takes another giant leap with membership of global body

Saudi space sector takes another giant leap with membership of global body
Updated 27 October 2021

Saudi space sector takes another giant leap with membership of global body

Saudi space sector takes another giant leap with membership of global body
  • The Saudi Space Commission has joined the International Astronautical Federation ‘to enhance the Kingdom’s stature globally’ in the sector

JEDDAH: In a move that experts said will help to further advance the space sector in the Kingdom, the Saudi Space Commission has joined the International Astronautical Federation.

The federation, a leading space organization founded in 1951 to promote discussions between scientists worldwide and encourage cooperation in space, announced the Saudi membership on Monday.

Mohammed Al-Tamimi, CEO of the commission, said that the space industry is one of the sectors targeted for development by Vision 2030 with the aim of the Kingdom becoming a world leader in the field. He added that the commission is working to enhance the sector through the scientific and professional development of the skills required in the field, and by providing the necessary support to promote research and development in space technologies.

“We are pleased today to join the International Space Federation to enhance the Kingdom’s stature globally and to consolidate its leading role in the development of the space economy internationally,” Al-Tamimi said.

FASTFACTS

• The announcement comes as part of the efforts to enhance the Kingdom’s role in the space sector in the region and internationally, and to stimulate growth and inspire future generations, authorities said.

• They added that membership of the federation represents a new chapter for cooperation with the international community to establish and develop principles and frameworks that will enhance international laws and maximize the benefits obtained from the space sector and its technologies.

The announcement comes as part of the efforts to enhance the Kingdom’s role in the space sector in the region and internationally, and to stimulate growth and inspire future generations, authorities said. They added that membership of the federation represents a new chapter for cooperation with the international community to establish and develop principles and frameworks that will enhance international laws and maximize the benefits obtained from the space sector and its technologies.

The Saudi Space Commission was established by royal decree in late 2018 to stimulate space-related research and industrial activities. In 2020, Prince Sultan bin Salman, the first Saudi, Arab and Muslim astronaut, said the Kingdom was planning an SR8 billion ($2.1 billion) investment in the nation’s space program as part of Vision 2030.

“In the time we live now, space is becoming a fundamental sector of the global economy, touching every aspect of our lives on Earth,” he said. “Space business and the space economy are expected to grow into the trillions of riyals as we go forward.

“We believe there are a lot of opportunities that exist in the space sector and we, in Saudi Arabia, intend to tap these opportunities at all levels.”

The Kingdom aspires to being a leading global player in the space industry while advancing the prospects for future generations, the prince added.


Saudi Arabia’s Ithra to launch fourth Tanween creativity season

Saudi Arabia’s Ithra to launch fourth Tanween creativity season
Updated 27 October 2021

Saudi Arabia’s Ithra to launch fourth Tanween creativity season

Saudi Arabia’s Ithra to launch fourth Tanween creativity season
  • Tanween 2021 empowers the creative industries through exploring the innovative use of tools

JEDDAH: The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, known as Ithra, will launch the fourth Tanween creativity season with a plethora of cultural events for curious minds.

Held under the theme “Tools: Crafting Creativity,” the event features high-profile speakers and a series of targeted workshops and masterclasses until Nov. 13, and is designed to celebrate, explore and inspire the creative process. 

Underscoring Ithra’s goal of supporting and developing the region’s creative industries, a key highlight will be the unveiling of one of the most comprehensive studies mapping the cultural and creative landscape of the Middle East and North Africa, including rare insights into the Saudi cultural pulse.

“Since its inception, Ithra has positively disrupted the scene in culture, art, knowledge, creativity and community. Through the annual creativity season, Tanween, a cultural catalyst and global gateway, Ithra has succeeded in creating an unprecedented ecosystem that embodies its five pillars, while offering unique experiences to the public and to creative professionals,” said Ashraf Fagih, head of programs at Ithra.

Miznah Alzamil, head of innovation and creativity at Ithra, explained that like previous editions, titled “Disruption,” “Play,” and “The New Next,” this edition of Tanween will explore an aspect of the creative process and tap into how cultural and creative industries continue to innovate and steer the future of the creative economy — highlighting the tools at their disposal. 

“Tanween 2021 empowers the creative industries through exploring the innovative use of tools and identifying new opportunities presented by adopting and developing new toolsets,” she said. 

“From the first stone hammer to modern-day technology, tools enable our creativity to shape our world. From hand and head tools to digital and physical tools, and abstract and real toolsets, Tanween 2021 explores the role tools have in our creative process and industries, and shaping our creativity for the future.”

From its launch in 2018, Tanween has connected change-making creatives and innovators with global subject matter experts in an inspiration-fueled environment to nurture creative potential, share ideas and redefine what creativity means in a changing world. It offers a platform for them to connect with curious learners, aspiring creatives, and professionals to unlock creative potential across all levels and industries.  

This year’s headline speakers include former Adidas Senior Design Director Chris Law, founding director of the Khatt Foundation Dr. Huda Smitshuijzen AbiFares, international contemporary artist and researcher Sougwen Chung, and Arthur Mamou-Mani, founder of the award-winning Mamou-Mani Architecture practice.


Curtain set to rise on new era for Saudi performing arts

Curtain set to rise on new era for Saudi performing arts
Updated 27 October 2021

Curtain set to rise on new era for Saudi performing arts

Curtain set to rise on new era for Saudi performing arts
  • The new body will provide an umbrella organization for performers while promoting new talent and expertise

JEDDAH: The curtain is set to rise on a new era for Saudi performing arts with the establishment of a dedicated theater association.

As part of the Kingdom’s cultural transformation, the new body will provide an umbrella organization for performers while also attracting and promoting new talent and expertise.

Saudi Minister of Human Resources and Social Development Ahmed Al-Rajhi said the association would bring together professionals from the worlds of theater, folk arts, circus, stand-up comedy, and dance.

Headed by Saudi actor Nasser Al-Qasabi, the association’s board of directors will include academic researcher Sami Al-Jamaan, actors Rashid Al-Shamrani, Sami Al-Zahrani, and Fatima Al-Banawi, director Khaled Al-Baz, actor and playwright Yasser Madkhali, writer Fahd Al-Hoshani, kinetic arts performer Roaa Al-Sahhaf, comedian Yasser Bakr, and Saudi ballerina Samira Alkhamis.

Performing arts has been a part of human culture down the ages and was even used as a way to inform people about the negative impact of social practices.

However, although well-represented in the West, only recently have theatrical shows and their performers been supported in the Kingdom by official bodies such as the Ministry of Culture’s Theater and Performing Arts Commission, set up under the National Strategy for Culture framework. 

In a tweet, association president, Al-Qasabi said: “I am honored to work with my colleagues in the new association to overcome difficulties and advance this lofty profession. In a few months, the work of the association will be launched, and we look forward to your participation in a new creative journey.”

Performing arts are considered to have benefits on a personal, social, and community level, with live theater helping to encourage social dialogue, highlight issues, and provide an outlet for society to find solutions to problems.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The Ministry of Culture has been behind a number of significant initiatives and organizational developments that have taken place in the Saudi theater sector this year.

• These have included the establishment of the National Theater, and subsequently the Theater and Performing Arts Commission, and partnership projects with the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development to improve professionalism in the sector.

Mohammed Al-Subaih, director of the Jeddah-based Saudi Arabian Society for Culture and Arts, described the establishment of the new association as “a most welcome move” that would offer a strong voice for performers in Saudi Arabia.

He told Arab News: “It will definitely contribute to the work of actors and performers and also bring up the level of work of Saudi theater.”

Saudi actor Abdullah Al-Sinani said: “(The association is) a wonderful step that reinforces our permanent ambition toward the status of Saudi theatrical superlatives. I wish the association and its members success in enriching the local theatrical movement.”

In a tweet, Wael Al-Harbi said: “I was honored to be chosen as a founding member of the first association for theater and performing arts.”

And Sultan Al-Bazie, chief executive officer of the Theater and Performing Arts Commission, said: “We expect the association to be an active element in the development of the sector.”

The Ministry of Culture has been behind a number of significant initiatives and organizational developments that have taken place in the Saudi theater sector this year.

These have included the establishment of the National Theater, and subsequently the Theater and Performing Arts Commission, and partnership projects with the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development to improve professionalism in the sector.

In 2016, the General Entertainment Authority was formed, followed by the Literature, Publishing, and Translation Commission last year. The current registration of the Cinema Society will represent the first specialized civil body of its kind in the Kingdom concerned with the film industry.


Saudi air defenses destroy Houthi drones targeting Abha airport, Najran

Saudi air defenses destroy Houthi drones targeting Abha airport, Najran
Updated 27 October 2021

Saudi air defenses destroy Houthi drones targeting Abha airport, Najran

Saudi air defenses destroy Houthi drones targeting Abha airport, Najran

RIYADH: Saudi air defenses destroyed explosive drones by Yemen’s Houthi militia targeting Abha airport and Najran, both located in southern Saudi Arabia.
The militia has continued to target the Kingdom on a near daily basis, often selecting civilian targets in the south of the country.
Houthi attempts to target civilians has been labeled as war crimes by the Kingdom. 
The militia has attacked civilian infrastructure in the past including the international airports in Abha and Jazan.
The Arab coalition has been supporting the internationally recognized Yemeni government regain full control of the country after the Houthis seized the capital, Sanaa, in 2014.
In March, Saudi Arabia announced a roadmap called the Riyadh Initiative to halt fighting in Yemen and reopen Sanaa airport, as well as continuing talks to find a solution to the conflict. The proposal was seen as a welcome step internationally, but has been rejected by Houthi leadership.
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.
Saudi relief agency, KSrelief, has poured billions of dollars worth of aid into Yemen and has hundreds of projects focusing on food and health.
In July, The World Food Programme welcomed Saudi contributions to the fund saying humanitarian action in Yemen could not be sustained without it.


Who’s Who: Hassan Al-Shawi, director at Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Survey and Geospatial Information

Who’s Who: Hassan Al-Shawi, director at Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Survey and Geospatial Information
Updated 27 October 2021

Who’s Who: Hassan Al-Shawi, director at Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Survey and Geospatial Information

Who’s Who: Hassan Al-Shawi, director at Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Survey and Geospatial Information

Hassan Al-Shawi has been director of the licensing and permits department at the General Authority for Survey and Geospatial Information since January 2021. He has also been a member of the geospatial data governance team since September 2019.
Before joining the authority, he was a manager at the department of photogrammetry and aerial survey from March 2020 until January 2021. He prepared the rules and conditions for issuing permits for photogrammetry and aerial surveys, panoramic photography, similar technologies and marine hydrographic surveys and their guidelines.
He was a manager of the technical affairs department at the General Administration of Map Production from October 2020 until January 2021, a secretariat member of the National Geospatial Center from October 2019 until August 2020, and was a member of the development team at the General Authority for Survey and Geospatial Information from September 2019 to February 2020.
Before that, he was a surveying engineer in the General Administration of Map Production at the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs from January 2019 to September 2019, and project manager at Aerial Imaging Saudi Arabia Co. Ltd. from August 2018 until June 2019.
He was also a surveyor at Badan Agricultural & Contracting Co. Ltd from December 2017 until June 2019, and a surveyor at Al Fozan Trading & General Construction Co. from April to October in 2015.
He specializes in strategies, policies and rules governing the survey and geospatial information sector, stimulating investment, raising spending efficiency, monitoring and supervision, and creating, producing and analyzing geospatial data.
Al-Shawi has more than seven years’ experience and knowledge in implementing strategies, programs and organizational projects to improve the national geospatial infrastructure.
He has experience dealing with diverse systems that contribute to raising the quality of life in the economic, social, environmental and strategic aspects of the transition to digital twinning, smart cities, ecological balances and harmony between the components of the national data infrastructure. He has also managed operational projects of photogrammetry and aerial and ground surveys.
He is a member of several advisory and executive committees and has represented the General Authority for Survey and Geospatial Information at the Council of Ministers.
Al-Shawi holds a bachelor’s degree in surveying engineering. He is completing a master’s degree at King Saud University in geospatial information systems.