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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Hajj officials report no serious health issues as pilgrims complete rituals

• Kuwait and Bahrain congratulate King Salman on successful Hajj 2021

• 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.

 


Makkah’s Grand Mosque ready to receive worshippers at full capacity

Makkah’s Grand Mosque ready to receive worshippers at full capacity
Updated 45 min 11 sec ago

Makkah’s Grand Mosque ready to receive worshippers at full capacity

Makkah’s Grand Mosque ready to receive worshippers at full capacity
  • Visitors to the mosque will still be required to wear face masks and make reservations through the relevant apps
  • Workers at the mosque on Saturday were seen removing stickers reminding people to socially distance

RIYADH: The Grand Mosque in Makkah is ready to receive pilgrims and worshippers at full capacity on Sunday as Saudi Arabia loosens COVID-19 restrictions, an official said.

The Under-Secretary-General for the Affairs of the Grand Mosque, Dr. Saad bin Mohammed Al-Muhaimid, said that a plan has been implemented for the mosque to operate at full capacity whilst ensuring the safety of all.

Al-Muhaimid added that visitors to the holy mosque will still be required to wear face masks and make reservations to perform Umrah and prayers through the Tawakkalna and Eatmarna applications.

Workers at the Grand Mosque on Saturday evening were seen peeling stickers reminding people to socially distance off the floor, marking an end to the era of people in the Kingdom praying with 1-2 meter gaps between them due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As of Sunday, social distancing will no longer be mandatory at social gatherings or in public settings including on public transport and in restaurants, cinemas, and malls.

Face masks will no longer be mandatory in outdoor settings, except for certain specific locations including the two holy mosques.


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.