Saudi Arabia to start receiving Umrah requests

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah says it will accept foreign Umrah requests for the Grand Mosque and Prophet’s Mosque. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah says it will accept foreign Umrah requests for the Grand Mosque and Prophet’s Mosque. (SPA)
Short Url
Updated 09 August 2021

Saudi Arabia to start receiving Umrah requests

Saudi Arabia to start receiving Umrah requests
  • The ministry hopes to welcome two million pilgrims per month through gradually receiving requests
  • The issuance of permits will be through the applications “Eatmarna” and “Tawakkalna”

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah announced that it will accept Umrah requests starting from Aug. 9, 2021, for pilgrims to perform the Islamic rituals, and visit and pray in the Grand Mosque and Prophet’s Mosque, state news agency SPA reported on Sunday.

The issuance of permits will be through the applications “Eatmarna” and “Tawakkalna”. The ministry aims to reach 60,000 pilgrims distributed over eight operational periods, bringing the capacity to two million pilgrims per month.

The deputy minister of Hajj and Umrah, Abdulfattah bin Sulaiman Mashat, explained that the ministry worked in coordination with other authorities before the upcoming Umrah season to create a safe and secure environment for the pilgrims throughout their journey.

For locals and residents, vaccination for COVID-19 is a prerequisite to perform Umrah and visiting and praying in the two holy mosques.  Pilgrims coming from outside the kingdom must present an official certificate of vaccination from their countries, in addition to the vaccine being from the list of approved vaccines by Saudi Arabia. Arrivals must also adhere to institutional quarantine procedures. 

The deputy minister stated that the number of passengers on a transportation shuttle will not exceed 50 percent of its capacity, while maintaining a safe distance inside, and making sure of the permits of pilgrims issued through the applications before being allowed to board.

Meanwhile, the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques said it has completed organizational preparations to receive pilgrims from outside the Kingdom at the Grand Mosque from Monday.
The Under-Secretary-General for the Affairs of the Grand Mosque, Dr. Saad bin Mohammed Al-Muhaimid, said this included regulating entry and exit points and preparing all corridors, the courtyard and squares before the influx of pilgrims.
He said all field leaders in the Grand Mosque will monitor and evaluate operational plans and provide a safe environment.


Bangladesh religious affairs minister praises Saudi Arabia’s efforts to serve pilgrims

Bangladesh religious affairs minister praises Saudi Arabia’s efforts to serve pilgrims
Updated 22 sec ago

Bangladesh religious affairs minister praises Saudi Arabia’s efforts to serve pilgrims

Bangladesh religious affairs minister praises Saudi Arabia’s efforts to serve pilgrims

RIYADH: Bangladesh’s Minister of State for Religious Affairs Mohammed Faridul Haque Khan has praised the Kingdom’s efforts to facilitate Hajj and Umrah rituals for pilgrims, Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday.

The minister highlighted the Kingdom’s keenness to ensure pilgrims are able to perform rituals comfortably, and expressed appreciation to the authorities for their cooperation and role in the success of the Makkah Route initiative.

The Makkah Route initiative is part of Saudi Arabia's Guests of God Service Program and seeks to provide visitors to the holy sites with the finest possible services to help them perform their Hajj rituals easily and comfortably.

Five countries are featured in the initiative: Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Morocco, and Bangladesh.

It includes issuing visas, ensuring compliance with health requirements, and codifying and sorting luggage at airports in the home countries of pilgrims.

Pilgrims arriving from these countries can bypass entry procedures on their arrival in the Kingdom, go directly to the buses waiting for them, and travel to their accommodation in Makkah and Madinah. Their luggage is handled and delivered directly to them at their accommodation.


Saudi virtual hospital saves life of 70-year-old heart victim

(Twitter @CICSaudi)
(Twitter @CICSaudi)
Updated 26 June 2022

Saudi virtual hospital saves life of 70-year-old heart victim

(Twitter @CICSaudi)
  • Patients of the virtual hospital will no longer need to travel to different parts of the Kingdom to be seen by specialized physicians, nor will they be limited by 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. clinic hours

RIYADH: A cardiology team at Saudi Arabia’s Seha Virtual Hospital supervised a remote operation to save the life of a 70-year-old woman suffering from severe heart pain.

The patient arrived at the emergency department of King Fahd Specialist Hospital in Tabuk, complaining of severe pain in her chest.

After communicating with specialists from the cardiology team at Seha Virtual Hospital, located 1,000 kilometers away in the capital Riyadh, a decision was reached to operate on the woman and correct a life-threatening heart defect.

The operation, supervised by SVH consultants, was successful. The patient stayed for two days in the intensive care unit before being transferred to the inpatient department for another two days.

She has left the hospital in good health and is receiving follow-up treatment in the outpatient clinic.

With a growing live network of 130 connected hospitals, Seha Virtual Hospital is the largest of its kind in the world. The only other virtual hospital to rival it is in the US, with 43 connected hospitals.

Patients of the virtual hospital will no longer need to travel to different parts of the Kingdom to be seen by specialized physicians, nor will they be limited by 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. clinic hours.

Earlier, an official told Arab News that patients can now receive second and third medical opinions from the same consulting room.

Unlike simple video calls with doctors, the virtual hospital allows patients to visit their local hospital and attend a real-time live video clinical session with top specialists from across the Kingdom. During the session, vitals signs can be shared, while tests and X-rays can also be taken and shared with the network of specialists.

Emergency interventions can be provided round the clock, and real-time consultations with top specialists will guide local junior staff in dealing with complex cases.

Seha Virtual Hospital covers 12 main specialties and more than 35 subspecialties, including hospital-at-home follow-ups, where chronically ill patients, from the comfort of their homes, can stay connected with doctors.


Jeddah’s jetboats thrilling passengers with adrenaline-filled trips

Jeddah’s jetboats thrilling passengers with adrenaline-filled trips
Updated 26 June 2022

Jeddah’s jetboats thrilling passengers with adrenaline-filled trips

Jeddah’s jetboats thrilling passengers with adrenaline-filled trips
  • The so-called fireboats carry 12 passengers while performing maneuvers and drifts in adrenaline-filled 25 minute trips
  • The business at the Jeddah Yacht Club was the first to own fireboats in the Kingdom, Al-Ghamdi said

JEDDAH: Passengers taking high-powered speedboat journeys as part of Jeddah Season are leaving “satisfied and happy,” owner Ahmed Al-Ghamdi told Arab News.

The so-called fireboats carry 12 passengers while performing maneuvers and drifts in adrenaline-filled 25 minute trips.

The business at the Jeddah Yacht Club was the first to own fireboats in the Kingdom, Al-Ghamdi told Arab News.

He added that the people of Jeddah love water activities, which led to his decision to import the high-powered vessels from Spain.

“We know that the people in Jeddah love this kind of entertainment; people are fascinated and happy, and everyone loves it. There are passengers aged 10 to 95 years old, and we do tours that suit their ages,” he said.

Before establishing his business, Al-Ghamdi visited the Moggaro factory in Spain, which specializes in aluminum yachts.

He wanted to discover the latest trends in the motorboat industry, and soon fell in love with fireboats, also known as jetboats.

“I went to Santiago Barga, owner of Moggaro in Spain; his factory is one of the best existing factories for me. We developed the idea, sat studying it for a while, worked hard to make the arrangements, and today we have the boats in Jeddah,” Al-Ghamdi said.

Barga then visited the Kingdom to support his business partner and track how his bestselling jetboat, the Moggaro 700WJ, was operating on Jeddah’s waters.

“Ahmed Al-Ghamdi and I met in Spain. He didn’t come as a normal client who usually stays for two days; he stayed for a week, which created a good relationship between us,” Barga said.

While traveling on fireboats, passengers will experience exciting maneuvers, with video cameras recording the entire trip.

“I want to make this experience a good one for my clients. So I take care of the details as each of them will have their disposable towel and a locker to have their belongings, and showers as well as changing rooms,” Al-Ghamdi said.

He added that his passion for boats began in 1999, when started his first business in the industry. Al-Ghamdi said that in the future, he aims to localize all elements of his business.


100 scholars available at Makkah’s Grand Mosque to answer pilgrim inquiries

100 scholars available at Makkah’s Grand Mosque to answer pilgrim inquiries
Updated 26 June 2022

100 scholars available at Makkah’s Grand Mosque to answer pilgrim inquiries

100 scholars available at Makkah’s Grand Mosque to answer pilgrim inquiries
  • The 100 scholars comprise elite judges and university faculty members trained to answer questions
  • Worshippers can also have their questions answered by robots at the Grand Mosque

JEDDAH: The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques has allocated 100 scholars to answer questions from pilgrims and worshippers during their Hajj journey.

Spread across 10 different locations inside Makkah’s Grand Mosque, the 100 scholars comprise elite judges and university faculty members trained to answer questions in person or on the phone through seven booths operating around the clock.

Director general for dawah and guidance at the Grand Mosque, Majid Al-Masoudi, said: “Responses offered by scholars to pilgrims are compatible with the outcomes of the Two Holy Mosques Fatwa document and its impact on facilitating the journey of pilgrims and worshippers.”

The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques has allocated 100 scholars to answer questions from pilgrims during their Hajj journey. (SPA)

Scholars also offer responses about Hajj rituals in line with the frequent fatwas to avoid irregular fatwas, unify ijtihad (independent reasoning by an expert in Islamic law), and avoid racist and hate speech.

Worshippers can also have their questions answered by robots at the Grand Mosque. The presidency is offering this service in the main entrances of the Mataf area to take advantage of technology and artificial intelligence.

These robots support 11 languages to guide pilgrims from around the globe, including Arabic, English, French, Russian, Persian, Turkish, Malay, Urdu, Chinese, Bengali, and Hausa.

The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques has allocated 100 scholars to answer questions from pilgrims during their Hajj journey. (SPA)

They guide pilgrims on how to perform their Umrah rituals, issue fatwas, answer questions and provide opportunities for people to communicate with scholars remotely.

The four-wheeled robots feature 21-inch touchscreens and a smart stopping system that allows them to be moved easily. They also feature high-resolution cameras for clarity when transmitting images, high-resolution headphones, and a microphone with high-capture quality that allows clear sound transmission.

The robots work on a Wi-Fi wireless network system with fast and high data transmission.

A similar scholars’ initiative was launched by the presidency during the previous Ramadan season, with 30 Muslim scholars to help worshippers answer their questions on the correct performance of Umrah rituals and give fatwas.


First group of pilgrims from England’s Manchester Airport arrive in Saudi Arabia

First group of pilgrims from England’s Manchester Airport arrive in Saudi Arabia
Updated 26 June 2022

First group of pilgrims from England’s Manchester Airport arrive in Saudi Arabia

First group of pilgrims from England’s Manchester Airport arrive in Saudi Arabia
  • CBHUK volunteers were on hand at Manchester Airport to reassure and assist pilgrims ahead of their journey
  • Two other groups of British pilgrims departed Heathrow and Manchester airports on Sunday

LONDON: The first group of British Hajj pilgrims flying out from Britain’s Manchester Airport arrived in Saudi Arabia in the early hours of Sunday.

More than 250 pilgrims, including England cricketer Adil Rashid, boarded a flight from the airport on Saturday afternoon and arrived at Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport on Sunday morning.

Rashid will skip England’s upcoming One Day International series against India to fulfill the fifth pillar of Islam.

England cricketer Adil Rashid and CEO of the Council of British Hajjis Rashid Mogradia at Manchester Airport. (@cbhuk)

CEO of the Council of British Hajjis Rashid Mogradia and his team of dedicated volunteers were on hand at the airport to reassure and assist pilgrims ahead of their journey.

“Given the unprecedented nature of these Hajj bookings, and as they are the first of their kind to have transferred online, it was clear that we needed to assist and provide some ground support for departing pilgrims to give them assurance and support,” Mogradia said.

This year, the way pilgrims booked Hajj changed. Aspiring pilgrims from Europe, the US and Australia were required to register for this year’s Hajj electronically at www.motawif.com.sa. Applicants were entered into a draw system and were then selected from the pool.

The CEO of the Council of British Hajjis Rashid Mogradia assists pilgrims at Manchester Airport on Saturday. (@cbhuk)

“The volunteers from CBHUK assisted in ushering people and helped them join the right queues. They worked with Manchester Airport staff to assist them as and when required, and with the Saudia desk to help them move the queue quickly,” Mogradia said.

“They also helped people with preparing the correct documentation including passports, visas, PCR test results and vaccination certificates, so that they could be seen to quickly. Redundant licensed Hajj organizers also assisted with these efforts,” the CBHUK CEO added.

CBHUK volunteers assist pilgrims at Manchester Airport on Saturday. (@cbhuk)

The first group of British pilgrims traveling from London’s Heathrow Airport arrived in Jeddah on Friday evening. They were greeted on arrival by British Consul General in Jeddah Seif Usher.

The group later arrived in Makkah on Saturday and were welcomed by Abdulrahman Shams, assistant undersecretary of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah for Umrah affairs, as well as a number of other officials.

They were given Zamzam water, flowers and souvenirs on arrival in the holy city.

The first group of British pilgrims to arrive in the Kingdom are greeted by the British Consul General in Jeddah Seif Usher. (@KAIAirport)

Two other groups of British pilgrims departed Heathrow and Manchester airports on Sunday.