Smart robot to distribute Zamzam water

The robot will be able to distribute 30 bottles per round, with each round lasting for 10 minutes. (SPA)
The robot will be able to distribute 30 bottles per round, with each round lasting for 10 minutes. (SPA)
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Updated 11 January 2022

Smart robot to distribute Zamzam water

The robot will be able to distribute 30 bottles per round, with each round lasting for 10 minutes. (SPA)
  • The Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques has launched a robot for delivering Zamzam water

JEDDAH: Badr Al-Luqmani, deputy head of the Zamzam Watering Department for services and field affairs, said that the robot’s technology would allow it to distribute Zamzam water bottles without human intervention, in order to respect precautionary measures against COVID-19 whilst utilizing artificial intelligence in the service of God.

Al-Luqmani said the robot will be able to distribute 30 bottles per round, with each round lasting for 10 minutes, noting that it operates for eight hours at a time and takes 20 seconds to load the Zamzam water bottles. He added that it would not collide with or obstruct people, and had received many certificates of approval including the European CS certificate.

“Work is underway to operate the robot on a wide scale inside the Grand Mosque to also handle bags and portable cylinders,” he said, noting that “we seek to provide the highest levels of security and quality for the visitors of the Grand Mosque.”

 


Saudi Arabia participates in UN sustainable development goals forum

Saudi Arabia participates in UN sustainable development goals forum
Updated 12 sec ago

Saudi Arabia participates in UN sustainable development goals forum

Saudi Arabia participates in UN sustainable development goals forum

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Tuesday took part in the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) 2022, which is concerned with the sustainable development goals and working to accelerate their progress.
The forum, which is the main UN platform to follow up on the progress of the 17 SDGs and review its plans for 2030, is being held under the title: “Building back better from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) while advancing the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”
The Kingdom’s delegation is headed by the Ministry of Economy and Planning, with the participation of representatives from the ministries of education, finance, health, human resources and social development, environment, water and agriculture, communications and information technology, and the General Authority for Statistics.


The Kingdom’s delegation to the forum is led by the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Economy and Planning for Policies and Economic Planning Ayman bin Ishaq Afghani.
The forum, which will continue until July 15, will address goals aimed at rebuilding better after the pandemic, and a global outlook on developing the full implementation of the 2030 SDG agenda.
It will also focus on the goals of quality education, gender equality, life under water and on land, establishing partnerships to achieve the goals, and the importance of international cooperation and commitment to achieving the SDGs, taking into account low-income and least developed countries.
Afghani stressed the critical importance of the forum, saying: “The world is currently going through an important phase that requires all of us to cooperate and know what we need right now, and where we should be in the next stage, so that efforts can yield real results that will benefit the local and global levels.”
During the forum’s activities, the Kingdom’s representatives will highlight the roadmap plan developed by the country in coordination with stakeholders to achieve the SDGs, and the progress made through programs, initiatives and projects in line with the goals of the Saudi Vision 2030.
The 17 SDGs center around a call for all countries to work to promote prosperity and economic growth, and these goals include a range of social needs including education, health, social protection and employment opportunities, while addressing climate change and environmental protection.


Saudi king receives letter from Oman’s sultan

Saudi king receives letter from Oman’s sultan
Updated 14 min 14 sec ago

Saudi king receives letter from Oman’s sultan

Saudi king receives letter from Oman’s sultan

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Tuesday received a written message from Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq, regarding the strong and solid bilateral relations that bind the two countries, and ways to support and enhance them in various fields and on all levels.
The message was received on behalf of Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Waleed Al-Khuraiji, during a meeting with Sayyid Faisal bin Turki, the sultanate’s ambassador to the Kingdom.
During the reception, they discussed relations between the two countries, and ways of enhancing them in various fields.


Historic routes to Makkah symbolize Hajj pilgrims’ devotion to their faith

Historic routes to Makkah symbolize Hajj pilgrims’ devotion to their faith
Updated 41 min 57 sec ago

Historic routes to Makkah symbolize Hajj pilgrims’ devotion to their faith

Historic routes to Makkah symbolize Hajj pilgrims’ devotion to their faith
  • Muslims reached Makkah using four main routes that recall perilous journeys of pilgrims down the ages
  • Modern travel has made these routes obsolete, but many of them overlap with today’s roads and highways

JEDDAH: For centuries, millions of Muslim pilgrims have undertaken long-distance journeys to the city of Makkah to perform Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam. Well-established routes crossed the vast Arabian Desert and followed traditional paths from the far east to the north and west of the peninsula, surviving the test of time.

The ancient Hajj land routes from the neighboring regions materialized over time as a result of favored commercial routes and cultural and commercial exchanges. These centuries-old and deeply rooted cultural and religious traditions constitute one of Islamic civilization’s most important material vestiges. 

Pilgrims travelled for months in caravans and convoys of camels, horses, and donkeys, stopping at wells, pools, dams, and stations installed by passers-by, following some of the most famous Hajj routes in the footsteps of millions of pilgrims before them to fulfil the spiritual journey of a lifetime. 

“And proclaim to the people that Hajj; they will come to you on foot and on every lean camel; they will come from every distant pass.” Qur’an 22:27.

Scholars believe that five main routes reached Makkah; others say there could be up to six or seven, but they are considered secondary routes. The primary four are the northeastern Kufi route, known as Darb Zubaidah, the Ottoman or Shami (Levantine) route, the northwestern African or Egyptian route, and the southern and southeastern Yemeni and Omani land and sea routes, also called the Indian Ocean route. 

Stretching more than 1,400 km through present-day Iraq and Saudi Arabia, the Kufi route was used as a path to Makkah even in the pre-Islamic age. Also known as the Zubaidah trail, it runs from the Iraqi city of Kufa to Makkah, passing through Najaf and Al-Thalabiyya to the village of Fayd in central Arabia.

The trail then diverts west to Madinah and southwest to Makkah, passing through the vast and treacherous desert sands of the Empty Quarter, Madain Ban Sulaym and Dhat Irk before reaching Makkah. 

Historians believe the Zubaidah trail was named after Zubaidah bin Jafar, wife of the Abbasid Caliph Harun Al-Rashid, for both her charitable work and the number of stations she ordered to be established along the trail. The ancient path was also a known trade route, gaining increased importance and flourishing in the days of the Abbasid Caliphate between 750-1258 A.D. 

The trail is a candidate site for entry into UNESCO’s World Heritage list, similar to the Egyptian route, which also attracted the attention of Muslim rulers throughout history. These rulers established structures on the path such as pools, canals and wells.  

Some of the routes to Makkah stretch back to the pre-Islamic age, while Zubaidah well (right) has refreshed pilgrims and residents of Makkah for more than 1,255 years. (Universal History Archive/AFP)

They also built barricades, bridges, castles, forts and mosques. Researchers have discovered numerous Islamic inscriptions and commemorative writings engraved on rocks by pilgrims as they traveled along the road as a reminder of their Hajj journey. 

With time, these structures mostly deteriorated or were destroyed by raids, but many of them have left behind remnants which shed light on the history and heritage of Arabia. 

From the west, the Egyptian Hajj trail benefited the masses of Muslim pilgrims from Egypt, Sudan, Central Africa, Morocco, Andalusia, and Sicily who journeyed via Cairo. The trail travels through the Sinai to Aqaba, where a fork in the road separates the route into two. The first split is a desert trail that heads toward the holy city of Madinah and vast valleys towards Makkah. The other is a coastal trail that follows the Red Sea through Dhuba, Wajh, and Yanbu, then heads east to Khulais and onwards to the southeast, reaching Makkah. 

The course of this trail changed through time, depending on political circumstances and technological development, and at one point in time, it crisscrossed with the Ottoman or Shami trail. 

Perhaps one of the most well-documented journeys of Hajj can be found in the manuscripts of Moroccan scholar and explorer Ibn Battuta, which depict the journey through copious illustrations and notes. 

Propelled by the quest for adventure and knowledge, Ibn Battuta left his hometown of Tangier in 1325. He took the African route, traveling by land along the Mediterranean coastline toward Egypt and seizing an opportunity to acquire knowledge of religion and law and meet with other Muslim scholars. 

The sacred shrine of Islam in the courtyard of Masjid Al-Haram (Sacred Mosque) at Makkah, Saudi Arabia. Engraving from Mouradgea d'Ohsson, Paris, France, 1790. (Photo: ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

Over a year after the start of his journey, Ibn Battuta took a road less traveled through the Nile Delta in Egypt to the Red Sea port of Aydhad, and from there by ship to Jeddah on the other side of the Red Sea coast. His travels took him to Jerusalem, then Damascus, before finally joining a caravan of pilgrims following the Levant trail in 1326. 

Connecting the Levant to Makkah and Madinah, the trail starts in Damascus, cuts through Daraa, then passes through Dhat Hajj north of Tabuk, Al-Hijr, and Madain Saleh, then on to Madinah. Pilgrims from the north often stayed in the holy city, visiting the Prophet’s Mosque before continuing their journey to Makkah. Many pilgrims returning through the route settled in Madinah for generations to come, and would welcome passing caravans from their homelands.

Since ancient times, Yemeni routes have linked the cities of Aden, Taiz, Sanaa, and Saada to the Hijaz region of western Saudi Arabia — one trail adjacent to the coast, and another passing through the southern highlands of the Asir mountains. Though it could be considered a main route alongside the Yemeni route, the Oman trail, believed to be secondary, saw pilgrims travel from Oman along the coast of the Arabian Sea to Yemen. 

With time, facilities designed to ease the pilgrims’ journeys supplied water and provided protection along these roads to Makkah and Madinah.

Funded by rulers and wealthy patrons, the routes from Egypt, Yemen, Syria, and East Asia remained for centuries. No traveler journeyed empty-handed, as some carried goods with which to pay their way, and others bore local news that they shared among the provinces.

This file picture taken on May 26, 2021 shows a fragment of the Kiswa, the cloth used to cover the Kaaba at the Grand Mosque in the Muslim holy city of Makkah, the final one provided by Egypt (in 1961) during the administration of President Gamal Abdel Nasser, on display at the new National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation (NMEC). (AFP)

For generations, scholars have made their journeys towards the city, bringing along their concepts and ideas, contributing to scientific enterprise, and documenting the trip, noting the historical and cultural significance of the pilgrimage. Many of these scholars stayed in Makkah. Others settled in Madinah or headed north to such important Islamic cities as Kufa, Jerusalem, Damascus and Cairo to continue their studies.

Before the 19th century and the modern age of travel, these journeys would have been long and perilous. Though the actual ritual has remained unchanged in more than 1,300 years, the hardships and means of reaching the city of Makkah have eased and changed beyond recognition, with jets flying people in, buses and cars replacing camels, and Hajj bookings made with the help of the internet.

The routes died out barely half a century ago but they are well documented and preserved in memory as they symbolize the hardships pilgrims went through to perform the Hajj. They will forever preserve the spiritual footsteps of millions of devout Muslims on their climactic journeys.

Pilgrims far and wide have shared a spiritual desire that has brought masses of pilgrims across oceans, deserts and continents, just as it remains to this day and grows with each passing year.


Diriyah’s historic role in annual Hajj pilgrimage

The historic town was established to cater for groups of travelers passing through Al-Yamamah region. (Supplied)
The historic town was established to cater for groups of travelers passing through Al-Yamamah region. (Supplied)
Updated 05 July 2022

Diriyah’s historic role in annual Hajj pilgrimage

The historic town was established to cater for groups of travelers passing through Al-Yamamah region. (Supplied)
  • Under the rule of Manea Al-Muraydi, Diriyah became one of the greatest states of the Arabian Peninsula

JEDDAH: For almost 600 years, Diriyah has been a key stopping-off point for caravans of pilgrims en route to perform Hajj.

The historic town, located on the outskirts of Riyadh, was established to cater for groups of travelers passing through Al-Yamamah region – Najd in modern-day Saudi Arabia – in terrain that traditionally presented many dangers and challenges.

Diriyah’s strategic position established it as the most important resting spot for worshippers headed for Makkah on the annual Hajj pilgrimage. Wadi Hanifah provided the chance to stock up on food and water for the journey along historic routes such as the Qiddiya highway, Seven Bends Way, and Al-Nasrah pass.

FASTFACT

• Diriyah’s strategic position established it as most important resting spot for worshippers headed for Makkah on the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

• Wadi Hanifah provided the chance to stock up on food and water for the journey along historic routes such as the Qiddiya highway, Seven Bends Way, and Al-Nasrah pass.

Under the rule of Manea Al-Muraydi, Diriyah became one of the greatest states of the Arabian Peninsula. In later years, his son Abdulaziz expanded by adding new districts in a bid to boost financial revenues and he played a major part in securing more Hajj routes and offering high-quality services to pilgrims during Hajj season.

Imam Saud bin Abdulaziz bin Mohammed, the state’s third leader, became the first Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. The area of his rule also covered the shores of the Arabian Gulf and the Red Sea, making movement safe for pilgrims traveling along different routes.

The modern-day Saudi leadership has continued to work toward improving Hajj services and accessibility for worshippers making their way through the country to perform their religious duties, and the Kingdom now hosts millions of pilgrims and visitors every year.


Saudi Arabia’s Umm Al-Qura University academics working to enhance the pilgrim experience during Hajj

The university has exerted major efforts in the field of volunteer work during Hajj. (Supplied)
The university has exerted major efforts in the field of volunteer work during Hajj. (Supplied)
Updated 58 min 8 sec ago

Saudi Arabia’s Umm Al-Qura University academics working to enhance the pilgrim experience during Hajj

The university has exerted major efforts in the field of volunteer work during Hajj. (Supplied)
  • The efforts of the university’s specialist institute for Hajj and Umrah research help authorities improve the services the provide and better manage their operations
  • The institute ‘has so far carried out 740 specialized pieces of research and has trained more than 6,000 trainees,’ according to its dean

MAKKAH: Each year, researchers at Umm Al-Qura University carry out studies focusing on Hajj and Umrah, the results of which are used to improve and enrich the experiences of pilgrims during their spiritual journeys.

The work is carried out by the university’s Custodian of The Two Holy Mosques Institute for Hajj and Umrah Research. The institute’s dean, Turki Sulaiman A. Alamro, said that it studies current pilgrimage procedures and conditions, collects data on pilgrims’ needs and the services they require, analyzes the data, compiles progress reports and implements new initiatives as required.

The results of the research it carries out, and the database it builds, help authorities enhance the services they provide to pilgrims and better manage their operations.

“The institute is an exclusive research center,” said Alamro. “It has so far carried out 740 specialized pieces of research and has trained more than 6,000 trainees in the field of Hajj and Umrah.”

The university also offers comprehensive medical and administrative courses, in addition to voluntary-service programs.

“The university has exerted major efforts in the field of volunteer work during Hajj by providing volunteers with the necessary skills and training, in coordination with the concerned authorities,” said Alamro.

“We have nearly 2,000 volunteers this year because the university believes they play an important role.”

Sumaiya Al-Sharaf, an associate professor at the university, is in charge of its voluntary operation. This year, she said, about 11 organizations are offering volunteering opportunities, including the General Directorate of Civil Defense, the Saudi Red Crescent Authority, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, and the Health Volunteer Center.

The university provides the use of its campus as a venue for Hajj-related meetings and a transportation hub. It also develops and provides technology and innovation services through the Wadi Makkah Technology Company, an investment company fully owned by the university. The company actively contributes through the forging of partnerships between educational and research institutions and the business community, by investing in joint projects and supporting research and technical projects designed to benefit pilgrims.

Nayla Jad, a graduate student at the university who is specializing in Hajj and Umrah studies, said: “The Hajj and Umrah major is one of the most important specializations for building the financial and business sector by providing qualitative services to pilgrims every year.”