Saudi crown prince’s Qatar visit highlights the tangible benefits of AlUla reconciliation

Special Saudi crown prince’s Qatar visit highlights the tangible benefits of AlUla reconciliation
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Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani welcomes Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at Doha’s Hamad International Airport, Dec. 9, 2021. (AFP)
Special Saudi crown prince’s Qatar visit highlights the tangible benefits of AlUla reconciliation
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Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani visit Lusail Stadium in Doha, Dec. 9, 2021. (Supplied)
Special Saudi crown prince’s Qatar visit highlights the tangible benefits of AlUla reconciliation
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Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani receives Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Doha, Dec. 9, 2021. (AFP)
Special Saudi crown prince’s Qatar visit highlights the tangible benefits of AlUla reconciliation
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Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani visit Lusail Stadium in Doha, Dec. 9, 2021. (Supplied)
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Updated 10 December 2021

Saudi crown prince’s Qatar visit highlights the tangible benefits of AlUla reconciliation

Saudi crown prince’s Qatar visit highlights the tangible benefits of AlUla reconciliation
  • Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit marks high point of resetting of relations with Qatar
  • Intra-GCC relations have come a long way since the AlUla Declaration in January

RIYADH: Continuing his tour of Gulf countries in the run-up to the annual Gulf Cooperation Council summit, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrived on Wednesday evening in the Qatari capital Doha, where he was expected to build on the past year’s progress on reconciliation.

Relations between the Kingdom and Qatar have improved palpably since the AlUla Declaration was signed at the Saudi-hosted 41st GCC Summit in January, which ended the almost four-year-long dispute that had marred Gulf relations.

The crown prince’s arrival in Doha is seen as a new milestone in the resetting of relations and a recognition that ties of blood, common history, and shared policy concerns are more durable than the disagreements that led to the breakdown in relations in mid-2017.

Bandar Mohammed Al-Attiyah, the recently appointed Qatari ambassador to Saudi Arabia, told Arab News: “The visit signifies the excellent and strong Qatar Saudi bilateral relationship and the positive developments that preceded the AlUla agreement.

“During the visit, the two countries will discuss ways to enhance their strong ties in all fields of collaboration, and coordinate on regional and international issues.”

In September, Crown Prince Mohammed and the UAE’s national security adviser, Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, were pictured with the Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani following a “cordial” meeting on the Red Sea coast.

The widely publicized photo of their meeting, originally shared on Twitter by Crown Prince Mohammed’s private office director, showed the three men dressed informally and smiling broadly for the camera. The candid moment aptly conveyed a message of enduring solidarity.

On Thursday afternoon, the crown prince and Qatar’s emir were photographed with other dignitaries while visiting Lusail Stadium, one of the new facilities built to host the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

Al-Attiyah said: “Since the Gulf reconciliation, our two countries have moved to strengthen their ties and regional coordination robustly in a manner that reflects the vision of our leaderships

“Qatar and Saudi share their shared Arab and Islamic heritage, their forward-looking leaderships, and their common fate and destiny. Hence, the pace in which our cooperation is moving will undoubtedly contribute to the prosperity of the two countries.”

The two OPEC members have common economic interests as they both strive to diversify their economies into other more sustainable sectors. To obtain maximum mileage from these efforts, Saudi Arabia and Qatar in August set up a new bilateral coordination council.

In an agreement signed in the Red Sea smart city of NEOM, the Saudi-Qatari Co-ordination Council was created, chaired jointly by the crown prince and Qatar’s emir.

“The Saudi-Qatari Coordination Council is a comprehensive framework for strengthening bilateral relations and pushing the partnership between them to broader horizons in accordance with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and Qatar’s 2030 vision in a way that meets the aspirations of the leadership in the two countries and achieves the interests of their people,” Al-Attiyah added.

One important aspect of this cooperation is the sharing of responsibility for tackling climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Saudi Arabia has taken the lead, establishing the Saudi Green and the Middle East Green initiatives earlier this year.

Al-Attiyah said: “Climate change is the single largest threat to our planet. The participation of the emir in the Middle East Green Initiative reflects Qatar’s seriousness in tackling this issue through a regional and multilateral framework. Qatar thanks Saudi Arabia for this important initiative and its leadership in tackling this issue.”




Relations between the Kingdom and Qatar have improved palpably since the AlUla Declaration. (Supplied)

As part of these initiatives, Saudi Arabia aims to plant 50 billion trees throughout the Middle East region — 10 billion of them in the Kingdom alone. Tree planting is viewed as an effective way to capture carbon dioxide from the air and prevent further desertification.

Saudi Arabia aims to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2060. According to the Saudi government, the transition “will be delivered in a manner that preserves the Kingdom’s leading role in enhancing the security and stability of global energy markets.”

Saudi and Qatari officials are all too aware that such a transition away from fossil fuels will require close coordination between the Gulf’s biggest energy exporters.

“As two global leading energy exporters, Qatar and Saudi’s contribution will be vital for the energy transition needed to cut down on global greenhouse emissions.

“Realizing the important role they must play, the two countries, alongside the US, Canada, and Norway, have established the Net-Zero Producers Forum,” Al-Attiyah added.

The forum is developing and deploying pragmatic net-zero emission strategies, including methane abatement, the circular carbon economy model, and clean energy, carbon capture, and storage technologies.

“This approach will require diversification away from reliance on hydrocarbon revenues and other measures in line with each country’s national circumstances,” Al-Attiyah said.


Saudi women participating in Makkah’s General Cars Syndicate for the first time

Women are now part of the General Syndicate of Cars for the first time, and the are proud and honored to work during Hajj.
Women are now part of the General Syndicate of Cars for the first time, and the are proud and honored to work during Hajj.
Updated 04 July 2022

Saudi women participating in Makkah’s General Cars Syndicate for the first time

Women are now part of the General Syndicate of Cars for the first time, and the are proud and honored to work during Hajj.
  • ‘Our leadership has made it possible for women to work, especially in all government sectors’

MAKKAH: Women will be part of the General Cars Syndicate in Makkah for the first time since it was set up nine decades ago.

The syndicate is an executive body that arranges and organizes pilgrim transportation through affiliated companies.

I am grateful that women now have more professional opportunities to participate and serve during Hajj.

Binan Basnan, Customer service specialist - General Syndicate of Cars

Khadijah Fida, a journalist and content creator at the syndicate, said: “A lot of women have been assisting with work for Hajj in the Kingdom for decades. I saw my father’s work in this sector, along with my brother and husband, and today I have also participated in it. Our leadership has made it possible for women to work, especially in all government sectors, and play an active role in line with Saudi Vision 2030.

(From L to R) Binan Basnan, Mervat Habhab & Khadijah Fida. (Supplied)

“Today, I represent the General Cars Syndicate in the media, public relations, creating quality material, and monitoring the successes of the transport information center during Hajj. I am proud and honored to be a woman from Makkah who works in the syndicate that greatly and actively contributes to the success of Hajj and the safe transport of pilgrims.

The syndicate is always working on creating and establishing an institutional framework for this association that has made a dramatic difference in transport in Makkah.

Khadija Fida, Journalist and content creator - General Syndicate of Cars

“We experience Makkah’s Hajj and Umrah seasons, and the syndicate is always working on creating and establishing an institutional framework for this association that has made a dramatic difference in transport in Makkah to bring comfort to pilgrims who (earlier) struggled on dirt roads to reach Makkah.”

Mervat Habhab, a customer service specialist at the syndicate’s information center, said that women’s roles had become more noticeable and significant.

“It is my mission to interact and address the situation of every beneficiary, based on their needs, and transport them to the relevant departments for a quick response and intervention. It is an honorable and wonderful mission to contribute to the service of pilgrims when those services were limited to men. In this prosperous era and these blessed days, I have the opportunity to play an important and active part as a woman from Makkah who loves God and her homeland.”

Habhab added that government support motivated them to improve their work performance every year.

Binan Basnan, another customer service specialist at the syndicate, said: “I am proud and honored to work in a great institution such as the General Cars Syndicate that serves pilgrims on their Hajj journey through receiving their inquiries and complaints. I am grateful that women now have more professional opportunities to participate and serve during Hajj. I hope to be rewarded (by God) and thank our government, which gave us these great opportunities.”


Madinah exhibit enriches the visitor experience

There is audio translation, enabling visitors to access the exhibition’s content through dedicated devices. (SPA)
There is audio translation, enabling visitors to access the exhibition’s content through dedicated devices. (SPA)
Updated 04 July 2022

Madinah exhibit enriches the visitor experience

There is audio translation, enabling visitors to access the exhibition’s content through dedicated devices. (SPA)
  • The exhibition presents content in several languages through wall panels and interactive screens

MADINAH: The Exhibition of the Prophet’s Holy Mosque Architecture is considered a historical legacy, as it contains valuable possessions and rare artifacts that enrich the visitor experience.

It is south of the Prophet’s Mosque, over an area of 2,200 square meters, and reviews the history of the building’s architecture since its first construction by Prophet Muhammad and his companions until the expansions of the first, second, and third Saudi states.

These expansions span more than 1,400 years and are witness to the beauty and elaboration of Islamic architecture, its designs, and ornamentations.

In collaboration with the Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah Research and Studies Center, the General Presidency for the Affairs of Two Holy Mosques is highlighting the architectural dimensions of the Prophet’s Mosque, shedding light on its specialty, status, and architecture, elevating the level of cultural awareness in Islamic civilization, and enriching the visitor experience at an artistic and cultural level through a detailed and comprehensive presentation.

The presidency has also worked on introducing visitors to the features of the Prophet’s Mosque, such as the pulpit, mihrab, domes, canopies, doors, adhan, muezzins, minarets, squares, and the services offered to people.

The exhibition presents content in several languages through wall panels and interactive screens. All exhibition output is in Arabic and English, while the content has been translated into 12 languages.

There is also audio translation, enabling visitors to access the exhibition’s content through dedicated devices. Visiting time is divided into two daily periods from 7 a.m. until midday and from 4 p.m. until 10 p.m.

The exhibition features modern technology, interactive screens talking about architecture, information related to the Prophet’s Mosque, films, and cinema halls.

It also has special halls for valuable objects, including rare and precious items belonging to the Two Holy Mosques and ancient artifacts preserved through the ages.

The experience time in the exhibition is around 40 minutes, with 30 visitors per tour.


11 Robots sanitize Grand Mosque in Makkah

Robots sanitize Grand Mosque in Makkah. (SPA)
Robots sanitize Grand Mosque in Makkah. (SPA)
Updated 04 July 2022

11 Robots sanitize Grand Mosque in Makkah

Robots sanitize Grand Mosque in Makkah. (SPA)
  • Each robot works from five to eight hours without any human intervention

MAKKAH: Eleven robots have been sent inside the Grand Mosque of Makkah to sanitize the holy site as part of the pandemic control measures of the Services, Field Affairs and Environmental Protection Agency at the General President for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques.

The robots will automatically sanitize all areas of the mosque and analyze sanitization requirements to protect pilgrims and worshippers from bacterial threats.

With programming of the layout of the mosque loaded into their systems, the robots will clean the mosque according to attendance.

The robots use simultaneous localization and mapping technology, which features a high-performance atomization unit and a battery charging feature.

Each robot works from five to eight hours without any human intervention. The device can carry up to 23.8 liters of sanitizer, consuming 2 liters per hour, to eliminate bacteria in an area of ​​600 sq m on each round. The robots can move for 3 km without any support from humans.

The robots feature a front detection system to avoid running into obstacles for up to 10 meters. The device carries a camera that contains a high-quality radar for mapping.

The smart robot device has obtained international certificates, including the European CE Quality Accreditation Certificate.


New lake park in Historic Jeddah highlights cultural destination

The project is part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 goals of cultivating environmental projects. (Supplied)
The project is part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 goals of cultivating environmental projects. (Supplied)
Updated 04 July 2022

New lake park in Historic Jeddah highlights cultural destination

The project is part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 goals of cultivating environmental projects. (Supplied)
  • Jeddah’s historical district was placed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2014, presenting a vivid recreation of life in the past

JEDDAH: The Jeddah historic district program has launched a new lake park — “Lake Al-Arbaeen” — launched in the historical district of Jeddah as an exclusive cultural destination.

The project is part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 goals of cultivating environmental projects and improving the quality of life within the city’s historical area.

Several artistic sculptures from throughout the world are placed within the park. Visitors can stroll through historical architecture, natural scenes, cultural events, sports tracks, local restaurants and souqs that highlight the city’s heritage.

Jeddah’s historical district was placed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2014, presenting a vivid recreation of life in the past.

Founded in the 7th century C.E., Al-Balad once served as a center of trade and commerce for Jeddah. But most of the ancient walls that surrounded the town, and the souq within it, became weathered and were eventually torn down as centuries passed.

As wealth from oil began to flow into the Saudi economy and the country began a march toward modernity, many people moved out of the cramped spaces of Al-Balad, leaving its more palatial homes and buildings to slow dilapidation.

There are more than 450 buildings within the historical walls of the city, 56 of which are in urgent need of repair.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has pledged SR50 million ($13.33 million) to support the restoration of these buildings as they represent a major part of the Kingdom’s ancient heritage and are a significant tourist site.


Guests of God Service Program seeks to enhance pilgrims’ Hajj experience

Saudi Arabia has launched an app called Smart Pilgrim for convenient ways of making Umrah ritual bookings. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia has launched an app called Smart Pilgrim for convenient ways of making Umrah ritual bookings. (SPA)
Updated 03 July 2022

Guests of God Service Program seeks to enhance pilgrims’ Hajj experience

Saudi Arabia has launched an app called Smart Pilgrim for convenient ways of making Umrah ritual bookings. (SPA)
  • The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has integrated smart systems to promote the safe travel of pilgrims during their stay in the holy cities to ensure they perform their religious rituals easily and safely

RIYADH: The Guests of God Service Program, which was inaugurated by King Salman in 2019, is one of Saudi Arabia’s key reform plans as part of its Vision 2030.

It seeks to host large numbers of pilgrims, facilitate their access to the Two Holy Mosques, ensure they have access to high-quality services through the most advanced technology, and enhance their cultural and spiritual experience.

It also seeks to ensure that pilgrims safely return to their countries of origin after completing all their rituals.

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has integrated smart systems to promote the safe travel of pilgrims during their stay in the holy cities to ensure they perform their religious rituals easily and safely.

The first phase of smart systems went live in 2019 to assist pilgrims in their movement and safety.

Since then, the ministry has collaborated on digital transformation with technology firms and strategic partners to promote the application of smart solutions and facilitate the smooth implementation of all services.

It has also adopted an e-bracelet program for the safety of all pilgrims, which stores vital data and gives them support.

Ministry under-secretary Mohammed Al-Bijawi said: “We have performance indicators that show our complete readiness to provide an outstanding experience for pilgrims.”

The Kingdom has also launched an app called Smart Pilgrim for convenient ways of making Umrah ritual bookings, even by overseas pilgrims.

“We were keen to use technology in the Hajj and to use the smart card to contribute to the movement of pilgrims and the speed of access to their sites, and it will be applied in this year's Hajj,” said Minister of Hajj and Umrah Tawfiq Al-Rabiah.