Nigeria backs Saudi Arabia’s bid to host World Expo 2030

Special Nigeria backs Saudi Arabia’s bid to host World Expo 2030
Nigerian ambassador to Saudi Arabia Yahaya Lawal speaking to Arab News. (AN photo by Saad Alonezi)
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Updated 31 March 2022

Nigeria backs Saudi Arabia’s bid to host World Expo 2030

Nigeria backs Saudi Arabia’s bid to host World Expo 2030
  • The two countries have a long history of cooperation, ambassador to Saudi Arabia tells Arab News
  • ‘Our interest is to strengthen bilateral ties and elevate them to a strategic level,’ the envoy said

RIYADH: Nigeria on Thursday pledged its full support for Saudi Arabia’s ambitious bid to host World Expo 2030 in Riyadh.

The two countries have a long history of cooperation and have always supported each other at international forums, Yahaya Lawal, the Nigerian ambassador to Saudi Arabia, told Arab News during an exclusive interview.

“Certainly, Nigeria has extended full support to the Saudi bid to host Expo 2030,” the envoy said. “President Muhammadu Buhari has given his go-ahead when he spoke recently to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.”

The crown prince announced the Saudi bid in October last year and the formal application was submitted in December during a virtual meeting of the Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions. The Kingdom has already received a number of international endorsements and has emerged as a strong contender. There are five stages to the candidature process, which will culminate in a vote in late 2023.

Lawal said that in general the relationship between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia is strong.

“Our relations, especially at the political level, have largely been excellent,” he said. “Close understanding exists between our leaders and we will exchange views from time to time on various issues of bilateral cooperation.

“We also have various high-level visits, ministerial visits to the Kingdom and vice versa. Just a few days ago, Nigerian Minister of Trade and Investment Mariam Yalwaji Katagum was here. So that signifies the importance attached to this bilateral cooperation.”

Trade represents a key element of the relationship, according to the envoy, and one that Nigeria is keen to further enhance.

“Trade is very important, although it’s not as large as we would have wished but it is growing,” he said. “Don’t forget the two countries are OPEC members, so they have very close cooperation within the framework of OPEC, and now OPEC+, in order to continue stabilizing the international oil market.”

He highlighted the “excellent cooperation between the two countries, especially at the political level” and added “trade is growing; all cooperation is moving forward.”

Lawal noted that late last year, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan visited Nigeria and met his Nigerian counterpart, Geoffrey Onyeama, to discuss all aspects of the bilateral relationship.

“We also expect a return visit this year to the Kingdom, as the Saudi foreign minister has invited his counterpart to Riyadh,” said Lawal.

“The date for the visit is yet to be finalized. We hope that before the visit there is the joint bilateral commission between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. It was to have met in December last year in Abuja but due to the Omicron variant of COVID-19, it was postponed. So we are waiting for a new date to meet in Abuja.”

The joint bilateral commission is a very important framework for cooperation, he said, under which a wide range of issues — including political, economic, security, military, trade, investment, technology and labor — can be discussed.

There are a number of sectors in which Nigeria would like to develop closer ties with Saudi Arabia, according to Lawal.

“Trade is one and this was discussed when the Saudi foreign minister visited Nigeria,” he said. “We have to build trade between our two countries. Investment on both sides is also important.

“These days, all relations between countries are largely based on trade, commercial exchanges and investment. We also have other important areas, such as the oil sector, information, the digital economy and digital cooperation.

“Our interest is to further strengthen our bilateral ties and to elevate them to a strategic level. We had an agreement in 2019 to establish what we call the Nigerian-Saudi Business Council; this is where we want to put emphasis now.”

Discussions are in progress for the formation of the council, Lawal said, and once it is up and running all the key issues of trade, investment and commercial exchanges will be given all due attention.


Saudi Arabia condemns terrorist attack that killed 6 soldiers in southeast Niger

Saudi Arabia condemns terrorist attack that killed 6 soldiers in southeast Niger
Updated 16 sec ago

Saudi Arabia condemns terrorist attack that killed 6 soldiers in southeast Niger

Saudi Arabia condemns terrorist attack that killed 6 soldiers in southeast Niger
  • Kingdom renewed its full support for Niger in its intensified efforts to eliminate terrorism and extremism

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Thursday strongly condemned a terrorist attack on a military in southeast Niger that killed and injured a number of security forces, the Kingdom’s foreign ministry said.
Suspected militants killed six soldiers and wounded 14 others in an attack on early Tuesday on a military post of the Nigerien National Guard in Blabrine, in the Diffa region, which borders Chad and Nigeria.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs renewed the Kingdom’s full support for Niger in its intensified efforts to eliminate terrorism and extremism in all its forms and manifestations and dry up its sources of financing,” it said in a statement.
“The Kingdom stands with the government and people of Niger against all terrorist organizations that are trying to undermine Niger’s gains and capabilities,” the ministry added.
It expressed the Kingdom’s sincere condolences and sympathy to the families of the victims, and to the Nigerien government and people, wishing the injured a speedy recovery, and continued security and stability for the West African country.
(With AFP)


Exhibition showcases Islamic Ministry’s work for pilgrims

Exhibition showcases Islamic Ministry’s work for pilgrims
Updated 07 July 2022

Exhibition showcases Islamic Ministry’s work for pilgrims

Exhibition showcases Islamic Ministry’s work for pilgrims
  • Exhibition open daily from 8 a.m. until midnight

MAKKAH: Saudi Arabia’s Islamic Minister Sheikh Abdullatif Al-Asheikh recently inaugurated the Oasis Exhibition in Makkah, which introduces the ministry’s technical projects to serve pilgrims during this year’s Hajj season.

The exhibition is open daily from 8 a.m. till midnight.

Al-Asheikh, who is also chairman of the supreme committee for the ministry’s works in Hajj and Umrah, was briefed on the interactive pavilions at the exhibition.

The pavilions showcase the ministry’s applications, including teaching Hajj and Umrah rituals using 3D technology, in addition to an e-library.

The minister also toured the pavilion of the library of Makkah, which displays rare manuscripts. It also has a special section for the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an. It showcases the complex’s achievements and works, and presents each guest with a gift.

Al-Asheikh also visited the pavilion of the scientific and advocacy programs organized by the ministry, represented by its agency for Islamic affairs inside and outside the Kingdom. It comes within the framework of its mission to serve Islam and Muslims around the world.


Mount of Mercy area in Arafat set for facelift

Mount of Mercy area in Arafat set for facelift
Updated 07 July 2022

Mount of Mercy area in Arafat set for facelift

Mount of Mercy area in Arafat set for facelift
  • New plan for street lights, toilets, parking bays, sitting areas, walking spaces and restaurants
  • Every Dhul Hijjah 9, millions of pilgrims travel from Mina to Jabal Al-Rahma to pray, seek Allah’s forgiveness

MAKKAH: Jabal Al-Rahma, also called Mount of Mercy or Mount of Arafat, which is a 454-meter-high granodiorite hill located around 20 kilometers to the southeast of Makkah, will soon undergo a massive facelift to improve services for pilgrims.

The Kidana Development Company is spearheading the project to transform the areas adjacent to Jabal Al-Rahma on the plains of Arafat, as part of a plan to beautify the holy sites.

Pilgrims and visitors are expected to benefit from improved facilities and services throughout the year, and not just during the Hajj.

The project will include street lights, toilets, parking bays, sitting areas, and walking spaces. There will also be restaurants and cafes, platforms for TV channels, and security control towers.

A company official told Arab News that the initiative will also include new bus stations, and improved lighting over the 200,000-square-meter area. The aim is to ensure pilgrims can perform their rituals comfortably, the official said.

The area is significant for Muslims as Prophet Muhammad delivered his last sermon at the foot of the mountain.

On Dhul Hijjah 9, this year possibly on Friday, July 8, pilgrims travel from Mina to Arafat to pray, supplicate, and seek forgiveness from Allah.

The pilgrims them move to Muzdalifa, located nearly 8.8 kilometers west of Mount Arafat. Along the way, they pick up pebbles, which are used for the ritual of stoning the devil for three days at the Jamarat in Mina.


Pilgrims cooled at Grand Mosque by world’s two largest stations

Pilgrims cooled at Grand Mosque by world’s two largest stations
Updated 07 July 2022

Pilgrims cooled at Grand Mosque by world’s two largest stations

Pilgrims cooled at Grand Mosque by world’s two largest stations
  • Machines have ultraviolet light to kill bacteria
  • Hot air is chilled over piped water at about 4 degrees Celsius

MAKKAH: Two of the world’s largest cooling stations are set up in Makkah to provide chilled and fresh air to pilgrims at the Grand Mosque, an official told Arab News.

Sultan bin Ati Al-Qurashi, undersecretary-general for Technical, Operational Affairs, Maintenance and Facilities Management, said one is in Shamiya, which is 900 meters from the Grand Mosque and consumes energy of up to 159,000 refrigeration tons. The other one is in Ajyad, 500 meters away and can consume energy of up to 39,000 refrigeration tons.

Al-Qurashi said the stations work by cooling water in the system to about 4 or 5 degrees Celsius, which is then sent to the Air Handling Units, where hot air from the mosque passes over the chilled water. The cool air that is created is then pumped through air purification systems and into the mosque.

The agency renovates the air conditioning units periodically and replaces all heat exchangers and air purification filters with new ones, he said.

Al-Qurashi explained that the air is purified through air handling units after natural air is extracted from the surface of the Grand Mosque. It is done in several stages through high filtration technology, which prevents dust and other small particles from entering the air-conditioned environment. It is then sterilized with ultraviolet light that kills all types of bacteria.

The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques oversees the operation of the coolers, which are operated by several highly qualified and experienced Saudi engineers and technicians.

The technicians also balance the amount of air pumped into various areas of the Grand Mosque, depending on the number of visitors.

Al-Qurashi said that 25 percent more workers are deployed to the Grand Mosque during the Hajj period, to ensure the best services for pilgrims.


Pilgrims arrive in Mina for Tarwiyah

Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims arrived in Mina early Thursday morning for Tarwiyah. (AN Photo/Basheer Saleh)
Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims arrived in Mina early Thursday morning for Tarwiyah. (AN Photo/Basheer Saleh)
Updated 13 min 45 sec ago

Pilgrims arrive in Mina for Tarwiyah

Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims arrived in Mina early Thursday morning for Tarwiyah. (AN Photo/Basheer Saleh)
  • With the sunrise on Friday, they will move to Arafat, where Prophet Muhammad delivered his final sermon over 1,400 years ago

MINA: Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims arrived in Mina early Thursday morning for Tarwiyah, the eighth day of Dhul Hijjah, also known as Yaum Al-Tarwiyah.

Prior to their march to Arafat tomorrow, where they will witness the main day of pilgrimage, the worshippers will remain in the Tent City of Mina, about 5km from the Grand Mosque, performing prayers.

With the sunrise on Friday, they will move to Arafat, where Prophet Muhammad delivered his final sermon over 1,400 years ago.

It is estimated that 1 million fully vaccinated pilgrims will be performing Hajj this season, after two years of pandemic-imposed restrictions.

To ensure the safety of the pilgrims on this post-pandemic Hajj, Saudi authorities have made preparations to facilitate the performance of rituals.

The Saudi Health Ministry has prepared 23 hospitals and 147 health centers in Makkah and Madinah to accommodate pilgrims.

Security forces, meanwhile, are implementing measures to ensure a safe Hajj.

Lt. Gen. Mohammed Al-Bassami, the commander of the Hajj and Umrah Security Forces, said in a press conference on Monday that there was a security cordon around the holy sites to prevent entry by unauthorized persons.