Ramadan rituals’ welcome return in Makkah and Madinah after two years

  In Ramadan this year, worshippers will again enjoy being part of communal iftar sufras at the two Grand Mosques in Makkah and Madinah. (Supplied)
In Ramadan this year, worshippers will again enjoy being part of communal iftar sufras at the two Grand Mosques in Makkah and Madinah. (Supplied)
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Updated 02 April 2022

Ramadan rituals’ welcome return in Makkah and Madinah after two years

  In Ramadan this year, worshippers will again enjoy being part of communal iftar sufras at the two Grand Mosques in Makkah and Madinah. (Supplied)
  • Communal itikaf and iftar allow secluded prayers and meals for breaking the fast
  • 2,000 permits have been issued to those wanting to donate food for worshipers

JEDDAH: After two years of COVID-19 restrictions, the two holy mosques in Makkah and Madinah will again allow customary communal Ramadan rituals including itikaf or secluded devotion, and iftar suppers — a return to normalcy welcomed by citizens and residents.

The decision was announced on March 22 by Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, head of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, on Twitter @ReasahAlharmain: “We are glad to announce the return of Itikaf in Haramain (two sanctuaries). It will be applied according to specific criteria, and permits will be available through the official website of the presidency soon.”

Itikaf takes place over the last 10 days of Ramadan when worshippers go into seclusion and devote their time to prayer and reading the Qur’an. It starts from the sunset of the 20th day of Ramadan and ends when the Eid moon is sighted. In itikaf, worshipers live and sleep in the mosques and only leave for ablutions.

HIGHLIGHTS

• For some Saudi families, providing iftar meals at the same spot in the precincts of the mosques, have been passed down through the generations.

• The distribution of iftar meals was allowed last year in Ramadan but this year on Jan. 13, Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Sudais announced the return of communal iftar sufras at the two mosques.

• Those families, who received their permits, said that they start preparing for iftar two weeks prior to Ramadan, which is part of the enjoyment.

Layla Nagadi, a 59-year-old Jeddah resident, has been observing itikaf for over 15 years. “Nothing equals itikaf in Makkah, where you can dedicate the last 10 days of Ramadan for worship only.”

“I was very happy when Al-Sudais announced the return of itikaf this year, I will be among the first people to apply.”

Before COVID-19, worshipers were welcomed at the two holy mosques for iftar by philanthropists who provide iftar sufras or meals at specific locations. The distribution of iftar meals was allowed last year in Ramadan but this year on Jan. 13, Al-Sudais announced the return of communal iftar sufras at the two mosques.

Two thousand permits have been issued to those interested in this form of charity. For some Saudi families, providing iftar meals at the same spot in the precincts of the mosques, have been passed down through the generations.

Shatha Jaylan, 30, from Madinah, told Arab News that she and her family have provided iftar for years near the Al-Rawda door. “We have been serving iftar meals in (the) Madinah haram for nine years in the ladies’ section. It is a collaboration between my father and my aunty as they both really appreciate the spirituality of (the) haram during the holy month of Ramadan.”

Those families, who received their permits, said that they start preparing for iftar two weeks prior to Ramadan, which is part of the enjoyment. “We provide yoghurt, shouraik bread, duggah (Madini mixture of condiments), different types of dates such as rutab and sukkary, Zamzam water bottles, Saudi coffee, and tea.”

“I (personally) used to serve iftar for visitors for three years in a row every Ramadan season; we used to prepare everything in the morning so we could bring (it all to the) haram by Asr prayer to avoid the peak hour,” Jaylan said. “It is really important to get everything set up so visitors can enjoy their meals.”

Jaylan said that like other people providing meals, she also hires workers to help with the preparation and serving, usually unemployed people seeking work. However, this year Jaylan said her family would not organize any meals so that others could be given a chance to do so.

“Once we heard the announcement of the return of iftar meals we were extremely happy, however, we did not renew our membership this year as there were new rules and regulations that were a bit different,” she said. “Providing iftar, gaining hasanat, going to (the) haram every day might sound nice and fun, but it is a huge responsibility.”

“My aunt, cousins, and I used to stay in (the) haram from (the) afternoon till (the) evening every day for one month. It is not easy as once the visitors leave, we (had) to collect the plastic mats, leftovers, and disposable utensils. It is a big effort, but one honest dua from visitors wipes all the tiredness away,” she added.

Meanwhile, the general presidency is set to launch several programs to provide services for worshipers during Ramadan. Over 12,000 workers will be serving in Makkah’s grand mosque, with the third expansion used at full capacity.

Crowd control measures have been instituted, with prayer areas designated for people with disabilities and the elderly.

 


KSrelief begins food, aid distribution in Yemen’s flood-hit Al-Mahra province 

KSrelief begins food, aid distribution in Yemen’s flood-hit Al-Mahra province 
Updated 59 min 42 sec ago

KSrelief begins food, aid distribution in Yemen’s flood-hit Al-Mahra province 

KSrelief begins food, aid distribution in Yemen’s flood-hit Al-Mahra province 
  • Al-Mahra, among other southern and eastern governorates, witnessed heavy rains in the past few days

Dubai: King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) began its aid efforts in Yemen’s Al-Mahra governorate on Saturday by distributing emergency food aid to people affected by the torrential rains and floods. 
The center distributed 100 food baskets containing basic materials, benefiting 1,092 people.
Al-Mahra, among other southern and eastern governorates, witnessed heavy rains in the past few days. 
KSrelief’s immediate intervention comes as part of its continuous efforts to aid and support Yemeni people in different crises.


Prizewinning Saudi student speaks of journey to competition success

Lama won gold at the Gulf Physics Olympiad and a bronze each at the international and Nordic-Baltic Physics Olympiads. (SPA)
Lama won gold at the Gulf Physics Olympiad and a bronze each at the international and Nordic-Baltic Physics Olympiads. (SPA)
Updated 13 August 2022

Prizewinning Saudi student speaks of journey to competition success

Lama won gold at the Gulf Physics Olympiad and a bronze each at the international and Nordic-Baltic Physics Olympiads. (SPA)
  • Lama Al-Ahdal scooped medals in Physics Olympiads and made her country proud

JEDDAH: Prizewinning Saudi student Lama Al-Ahdal, who has been scooping medals at Physics Olympiads, says her competition success motivates her to continue with her passion and achieve great things for the Kingdom.

She won gold at the Gulf Physics Olympiad, a bronze at the International Physics Olympiad, and a bronze at the Nordic-Baltic Physics Olympiad.

Al-Ahdal spoke to the Saudi Press Agency about the beginning of her journey in the Physics Olympiad through the Mawhoob Competition, which she took part in several times.

It was her participation in 2018 that led to her nomination to attend training forums, a path that would eventually lead her to victory.

“I started attending basic courses in Jeddah, through which I qualified and passed the required tests. I was nominated for the Winter Forum at Princess Nourah University in Riyadh, then trained with the physics team, from which a number of students in the Kingdom would qualify to form the Saudi team for the Physics Olympiad.

HIGHLIGHT

It was her participation in 2018 that led to her nomination to attend training forums, a path that would eventually lead her to victory.

“At the beginning of 2019, we underwent intense eight-hour training, both remotely and at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, to prepare for international competitions. I learned how to calculate the strength of the Earth's magnetic field using a string and two pieces of magnets, how electricity can be generated by heating two pieces of metal, how to measure the thickness of a candy wrapper using a laser, and other scientific experiments.

“The top five students were then nominated to represent the Kingdom, and thankfully I made it and snatched the gold medal in the Gulf Physics Olympiad, the bronze medal in the Nordic-Baltic Physics Olympiad, and the bronze medal in the International Physics Olympiad.”

Joining the Saudi physics team and undergoing training helped her to discover that physics was a beautiful subject. “I learned a lot from it and the Olympiad experience.”

Her participation increased her skills and developed her thinking by getting to know competitors from different countries.

“I also developed my time management skills since the training continued even during school days. My father and mother had a major role in helping me achieve my goals and encouraging me to try new things to gain more skills and learn more,” she said.

Setting a specific goal and working to achieve it was the most important thing that motivated her to take up the challenge and try new things.

Her father, Abdul Rahman Al-Ahdal, said his daughter’s journey was full of scientific challenges.

“She has always been a talented child and a bright student, with a  promising future ahead of her. God blessed her with a group of highly experienced trainers and supervisors. It is important to focus and draw a plan and work to achieve it.

“I thank King Abdulaziz and His Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity, and everyone responsible for helping the sons and daughters of the Kingdom partake in forums of creativity, innovation and scientific Olympiad, and other scientific activities.”


Visitors take a trip to Saudi Arabia’s Taif to rejuvenate in nature

The popular tourist location has a number of hotels and resorts designed and built to fit in with the natural landscape. (SPA)
The popular tourist location has a number of hotels and resorts designed and built to fit in with the natural landscape. (SPA)
Updated 13 August 2022

Visitors take a trip to Saudi Arabia’s Taif to rejuvenate in nature

The popular tourist location has a number of hotels and resorts designed and built to fit in with the natural landscape. (SPA)
  • The region has more than 2,000 flower farms that produce more than 200 million roses every season

TAIF: Visitors from all over the Kingdom and the Gulf are flocking to Taif this summer to get respite from the heat and rejuvenate in the region’s mountains.

The popular tourist location has a number of hotels and resorts designed and built to fit in with the natural landscape, several of which are also working farms or have beautiful gardens planted with the famous Taif roses and wild plants including basil, al-baitran, and marjoram.

Tourists and visitors can also stay in cozy, rural hostels made of old stone ornamented with carvings and sculptures of animals, where they can enjoy stunning views of the mountains and valleys of Taif, which are home to a variety of rare birds.

The city and other nearby areas such as Al-Hada and Al-Shifa are also famous for their fruits.

The region has more than 2,000 flower farms that produce more than 200 million roses every season. Taif roses have historic, economic and religious importance. The oil is used to perfume the walls of the Kaaba, which is also washed twice annually with its scented water.

Besides basking in nature, visitors to Taif can also visit museums, local markets, rose factories in Al-Shafa and Al-Hada, the cable car, a strawberry farm, the zoo, and historic castles.

 


 


Saudi forces and US marines begin joint training exercise in Yanbu

Saudi forces and US marines begin joint training exercise in Yanbu
Updated 14 August 2022

Saudi forces and US marines begin joint training exercise in Yanbu

Saudi forces and US marines begin joint training exercise in Yanbu
  • The month-long drill includes logistical exercises and operations with live ammunition

RIYADH: The Royal Saudi Armed Forces and US Marine Corps on Saturday launched a joint training exercise along the Red Sea coast in the western city of Yanbu, the Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense said.

The “Outrageous Anger 22” exercise was inaugurated in the presence of Maj. Gen. Ahmed Al-Dibais, commander of the western sector, and Maj. Gen. Paul Rock, commander of the Marine Corps at the US Central Command, as well as senior officers from the Saudi armed forces and US Army.

An inspection tour included sites where the two forces will conduct the joint operations.

Col. Saud Al-Aqili, commander of the exercise, said that it aims to rehearse implementation of bilateral operational and logistical plans, exchange expertise between the two sides, and develop complementary work with civil authorities.

Col. Matthew Hakula, commander of the US forces, said that the joint maneuvers will raise combat readiness, as well as strengthen compatibility between Saudi and US troops.

The month-long drill includes logistical exercises and operations with live ammunition.


Who’s Who: Abdulrahman Alotaibi, director of SMEs Training for Capacity Building at Monsha’at

Abdulrahman Alotaibi
Abdulrahman Alotaibi
Updated 13 August 2022

Who’s Who: Abdulrahman Alotaibi, director of SMEs Training for Capacity Building at Monsha’at

Abdulrahman Alotaibi

Abdulrahman Alotaibi has been the director of SMEs Training for Capacity Building at the General Authority for Small and Medium Size Enterprises, also known as, Monsha’at, since 2020.

Alotaibi’s current role includes overseeing the development of capacity-building solutions for SMEs and entrepreneurs through Monsha’at Academy’s online, local and international programs.

These programs support the Saudi business community by offering specialized skills in entrepreneurship, business planning, financial management and marketing.

Alotaibi started his career in Saudi Aramco in 2006 and held various roles in operations, accounting and planning.

He later joined the Saudi Export Development Authority in 2017 as an exporters training manager. He led numerous projects and programs to help Saudi companies to access and develop international markets.

Alotaibi holds a bachelor’s degree in public administration from King Abdulaziz University and a master’s in business administration from Al-Yamamah University.

He is a certified global business professional from NASBITE International and also certified in market analysis tools by the UN’s International Trade Center, ITC.  

In 2021, he published a book titled “Export Business Development —  A Guide to International Markets.” The work provides the necessary knowledge and best practices to help business people to develop and execute global business plans, evaluate opportunities, manage market challenges and grow international sales.

Working closely with various businesses and trade support organizations, Alotaibi has delivered workshops and advisory sessions in export and international trade. He also contributes to newspapers and other business media outlets.