Call of the wild puts historic Saudi village on tourist trail

Call of the wild puts historic Saudi village on tourist trail
Ayn Zubaida (Zubaida Springs) in Makkah. (Supplied)
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Updated 23 January 2022

Call of the wild puts historic Saudi village on tourist trail

Call of the wild puts historic Saudi village on tourist trail
  • Winter festival offerings range from wildlife sightings to poetry evenings
  • Over 60 young male and female volunteers are overseeing festival activities, including interactive games

LAYNAH/MAKKAH: Desert tourists are heading to Saudi Arabia’s historic Laynah village as the first edition of the Zubaida Trail Winter Festival attracts visitors from the region and beyond with the promise of everything from poetry readings to rare wildlife sightings.

The nine-week festival, which will continue until Feb. 26, 2022, promises a seasonal escape and the chance to enjoy winter activities, as well as glimpse one of the more than 60 animal species in the region, including the Arabian bustard, Arabian wolf and spiny-tailed lizard.

More than 120 plant species, including acacia and sidr trees, and rare shrubs, such as awsaj, arfaj and ramth, can also be found in the area.




Ayn Zubaida (Zubaida Springs) in Makkah. (Supplied)

The festival is organized by the Imam Turki bin Abdullah Royal Reserve Development Authority, which is known for launching a wide range of environmental initiatives.

“The festival has become a great escape for locals and visitors to the area because of its appealing winter atmosphere. The festival’s numerous events are ideal for families, young people, the elderly and children, ” said Menahi Mite’eb, editor-in-chief of Rafha Today, an electronic-based newspaper. 

Moneef Ali, who lives in Aewe, about 30 kilometers from Laynah, has taken his family to the festival twice in recent weeks to enjoy the winter activities, as well as a break from PlayStation and VR games. 

Ali said that he hoped to see the King Abdul Aziz Historical Palace and the vintage cars on display.

“This is the best time to go to the festival,” he said.

Crafts, food and drinks made by productive families attracted a large crowd of visitors who came to buy gifts for their loved ones and friends.

Over 60 young male and female volunteers are overseeing festival activities, including folklore segments, poetry nights, a museum and interactive games. 

Abdulsalam Alowaijan said that volunteering is helping reshape his skills and will assist him in his future career. 




Ayn Zubaida (Zubaida Springs) in Makkah. (Supplied)

The 18-year-old said that he is learning how to deal with people and understand their needs.

Visitors to the festival can visit the historic palace, wells, routes and monuments via designated trips and paths.

“The festival has revitalized the region’s economy and tourism,” Mite’eb said, adding that the poetry nights have drawn large numbers of people because of well-known poets taking part.

Laynah, one of the oldest settlements in the Arabian Peninsula, is situated on a route that was part of the Zubaida Trail used by Iraqi pilgrims during their Hajj and Umrah journeys to Makkah. 

The area is known for the abundance of waters and wells, as well as its historical significance. Historic sites include King Abdul Aziz Palace, built in 1935, and the old market or “souk,” named after Iraqi merchants who used to exchange goods with the people of Najd.

The Zubaida Trail, or Al-Kufi pilgrimage route, runs from Kufa in Iraq to Makkah, passing through the north and center of the Kingdom.

It was named after Zubaida bin Jafar, wife of the Abbasid Caliph Harun Al-Rashid, in recognition of her charitable work, in addition to the number of stops she ordered to be established along the trail.

The trail functioned as a trade route in the pre-Islamic era, but its importance later increased and it flourished during the time of the early caliphate. The trail reached its peak during the Abbasid era between 750 and 1258 when it became a properly paved road.

Stations, wells, pools and dams were established, and houses built along the trail leading to Makkah. Twenty-seven major stations have been identified, including Al-Sheihiyat, Al-Jumaima, Faid, Al-Rabadha, That-Erq and Khuraba.

With the increase in the number of Muslims in the early Islamic time, especially the Umayyad and Abbasid eras, the lack of water sources in Makkah and the holy sites posing a serious problem for residents, especially during the Hajj season.




Visitors to the festival can visit King Abdul Aziz Historical Palace, wells, routes, and historical monuments via designated trips and paths. (SPA)

Dr. Mohammed Al-Sharif, a researcher into the history of the Makkah region, said that water scarcity was a problem, and a challenge for the people of Makkah and the pilgrims. At times, the price of Al-Badrah (a small bagpipe) was 10 dirhams or more, a very high price for most pilgrims. 

When Zubaida learned about the water shortages the pilgrims had been facing, she ordered the digging of Ayn Zubaida, or Zubaida springs, in 810. This helped to ease water scarcity at the holy sites and surrounding villages for hundreds of years.

Al-Sharif told Arab News that Zubaida commissioned and paid for construction of Ayn Zubaida. She called on architects and engineers to address the problem.
 
The springs are an enduring symbol of the golden era of Arab culture, Al-Sharif said.

“It constituted a great example of Islamic heritage and a masterpiece of engineering that embodies the greatness of the people who lived in the vicinity of the two holy mosques. It is a testament to their determination to adapt to the difficult terrain and to build a great human civilization,” he said.


Saudi ministry launches UN mentoring program for Taif farmers

Saudi agricultural ministry in cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce, launched a mentoring program for farmers in Taif.
Saudi agricultural ministry in cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce, launched a mentoring program for farmers in Taif.
Updated 21 min 19 sec ago

Saudi ministry launches UN mentoring program for Taif farmers

Saudi agricultural ministry in cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce, launched a mentoring program for farmers in Taif.
  • The FAO has prepared 100 demonstration farms to promote modern practices and technologies, which are expected to positively impact farmers and encourage agricultural sustainability in rural areas

RIYADH: Saudi agriculture officials on Monday launched a UN mentoring program for farmers in Taif aimed at encouraging sustainable development.

Initiated by the Ministry of Environment, Water, and Agriculture in cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce, and presented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, the scheme aims to help introduce more efficient farming practices through the sharing of information on proven techniques and by providing access to industry experts.

The ministry’s director for Taif, Hani Al-Kadi, said: “Taif is no less significant than other cities in the Kingdom, due to its agricultural diversity and yearly abundance in crops.”

He noted that introducing farmers to effective agricultural concepts and objectives would greatly contribute toward, “producing safe and sustainable food, maintaining consumer confidence, ensuring mindfulness toward the exploitation of natural resources, and reducing environmental harm.”

Kakoli Ghosh, the FAO’s chief technical adviser to the program, said global advances in farming methods and agricultural practices had helped to increase production, job opportunities, and standards of living for small farmers, while also preserving natural resources for future generations.

She pointed out that the program would include visits to Taif farms at Al-Hada, Al-Shafa, Wadi Mahram, and Al-Dayha.

The FAO has prepared 100 demonstration farms to promote modern practices and technologies, which are expected to positively impact farmers and encourage agricultural sustainability in rural areas.

The Saudi ministry first launched the Sustainable Agricultural Rural Development Program in cooperation with the FAO in 2019. It has been designed to boost the production, processing, and marketing of fruit, fish, livestock, and Arabic coffee, and the cultivation of rain-fed crops.

The Vision 2030 reform plan aims to diversify the Kingdom’s economy and boost contributions to gross domestic product by pushing sustainable development in all sectors of the economy. One of the main areas of focus has been on the conservation of natural resources, including the rationalization of water consumption in agriculture and achieving food security.


Cambodian king praises Muslim World League efforts in strengthening civilizational alliance

Al-Issa praised the Cambodian model for achieving harmony among its national diversity. (Supplied)
Al-Issa praised the Cambodian model for achieving harmony among its national diversity. (Supplied)
Updated 24 min 13 sec ago

Cambodian king praises Muslim World League efforts in strengthening civilizational alliance

Al-Issa praised the Cambodian model for achieving harmony among its national diversity. (Supplied)
  • Al-Issa expressed his appreciation for the prestigious university and praised the values of tolerance and coexistence adopted by Cambodians as they had become an inspiring role model in fighting all forms of hatred, racism, and discrimination

PHNOM PENH: King Norodom Sihamoni of Cambodia received Sheikh Dr. Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, secretary-general of the Muslim World League and chairman of the Muslim Scholars Association.

The king praised the tangible impact of the league’s efforts in strengthening the civilizational alliance among diverse groups around the world and awareness among Muslim societies.

Al-Issa visited the Islamic Center in Phnom Penh and met Cambodia’s Muslim leadership. He praised the Cambodian model for achieving harmony among its national diversity.

He gave the Friday sermon at the Grand Mosque of Phnom Penh upon the request of the Islamic leadership in Cambodia. Hundreds of worshippers attended the sermon, with Al-Issa addressing key issues facing the Muslim world.

Al-Issa met the Grand Buddhist Patriarch of Cambodia Tep Vong and Patriarch Bor Keri.

The Royal University of Phnom Penh hosted Al-Issa, where he gave a lecture titled: “Our Common Values and Civilizational Alliance.”

The Royal University of Phnom Penh is the biggest in Cambodia. It was founded 62 years ago and has 20,000 students in its undergraduate and graduate programs.

Al-Issa expressed his appreciation for the prestigious university and praised the values of tolerance and coexistence adopted by Cambodians as they had become an inspiring role model in fighting all forms of hatred, racism, and discrimination.

He shared his views about the common values among humans as these values had granted full rights to everyone in Cambodia, despite the differences of religion and race, and made modern Cambodia live in security and stability.

 


Over 282k Hajj pilgrims arrive in Madinah until Sunday

Thousands of Hajj pilgrims arrive in Madinah. (SPA)
Thousands of Hajj pilgrims arrive in Madinah. (SPA)
Updated 59 sec ago

Over 282k Hajj pilgrims arrive in Madinah until Sunday

Thousands of Hajj pilgrims arrive in Madinah. (SPA)
  • Majority of worshippers Bangladeshis, followed by Nigerians, Indians, Iranians, Pakistanis: Ministry data

MADINAH: A total of 282,523 pilgrims from around the world have arrived in Madinah until Sunday to perform this year’s Hajj.

Figures released by the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah showed that 227,420 worshippers passed into the Kingdom through Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz International Airport, while a further 43,276 came via land routes.

Most of the visitors were Bangladeshis at 13,041, followed by 9,883 Nigerians, 8,676 Indians, 6,330 Iranians, and 6,023 Pakistanis.

The ministry data also revealed that 171,606 pilgrims left Madinah over the past few days for holy sites in Makkah. On Sunday, the number of worshippers staying in Madinah topped 95,194.

 


Tabuk governor receives German ambassador

Tabuk governor receives German ambassador. (SPA)
Tabuk governor receives German ambassador. (SPA)
Updated 44 min 40 sec ago

Tabuk governor receives German ambassador

Tabuk governor receives German ambassador. (SPA)
  • Lamle hailed the developments he witnessed while touring Tabuk

TABUK: Tabuk Gov. Prince Fahd bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz on Monday received German Ambassador to the Kingdom Dieter Lamle, who is visiting the Saudi region.

During the meeting, the two sides underlined the relations between the Kingdom and Germany, and discussed topics of mutual concern.

Lamle hailed the developments he witnessed while touring Tabuk.

 


Najiz mobile app from Saudi Ministry of Justice reaches one million users in 2022

Najiz mobile app from Saudi Ministry of Justice reaches one million users in 2022
Updated 27 June 2022

Najiz mobile app from Saudi Ministry of Justice reaches one million users in 2022

Najiz mobile app from Saudi Ministry of Justice reaches one million users in 2022
  • The app was launched by the ministry to promote the pursuit of justice

RIYADH: Najiz e-services mobile app launched by the Saudi Ministry of Justice has reached one million users in 2022, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

Najiz has expanded access to judicial services through handheld devices.

The app was launched by the ministry to help streamline digital services and promote the pursuit of justice.

Najiz app has added 21 new services, including a digital notary, downloading and verifying judgments, inquiring about enforcement applications, and booking appointments.

The most popular e-services provided by Najiz are inquiries about cases and real estate, booking appointments, verifying debt invoices, verifying marital status, and the digital notary, according to the ministry.

The app has a single sign-on feature that saves clients’ time and effort when obtaining services remotely.