British Umrah pilgrim expresses joy at returning for Ramadan post pandemic 

British Umrah pilgrim expresses joy at returning for Ramadan post pandemic 
Worshippers pray at the Grand Mosque in Makkah on the 27th night of Ramadan. (@ReasahAlharmain)
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Updated 30 April 2022

British Umrah pilgrim expresses joy at returning for Ramadan post pandemic 

British Umrah pilgrim expresses joy at returning for Ramadan post pandemic 
  • Haramain High Speed Railway has greatly reduced travelling time between holy cities, Dr. Hussain Anwar said
  • He described the hospitality of locals as “amazing,” and was given food by strangers to break his fast

LONDON: A British pilgrim who performed Umrah in Ramadan described the experience as “overwhelming,” and said it was “great” to be back at the Grand Mosque in Makkah following the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Following the lifting of most coronavirus restrictions in Saudi Arabia, Muslims from around the world have flocked to the holy city of Makkah to perform Umrah during Ramadan. The minor pilgrimage is believed to carry the same reward as Hajj when performed in the holy month.

Dr. Hussain Anwar, 27, performed Umrah on the 27th night of Ramadan which could have been Laylatul Qadr, the night on which the Qur’an was first revealed to Prophet Mohammed in Makkah more than 14 centuries ago.

Its exact date is unknown and it is believed to fall on an odd night during the last third of Ramadan. 

Many Muslims consider the 27th night of Ramadan to be Laylatul Qadr, and thus, the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah witness a surge in worshippers on the night. 




Worshippers pray at the Grand Mosque in Makkah on the 27th night of Ramadan. (@ReasahAlharmain)

It took 4 hours 30 minutes in total for Anwar to perform Umrah due to the amount of worshippers, and “there were people praying in the streets well beyond the boundary of the mosque” because it was “filled to the brim.”

Speaking to Arab News from the rooftop of the Grand Mosque on Thursday, he said that hearing the taraweeh and tahajjud prayers while performing his rituals was beautiful.

“Just being able to listen to the Qur’an while doing tawaf was an incredible feeling. By the time we started sa’ee, the tahajjud prayer was taking place so, again we were able to listen to the Qur’an being recited,” he said. 




Worshippers pray at the Grand Mosque in Makkah on the 27th night of Ramadan. (@ReasahAlharmain)

“That’s the main thing I missed all these years, being able to be here, perform prayers in the Grand Mosque, and listen to the Qur’an being recited beautifully — it’s great,” he added.

Anwar arrived in Makkah on Wednesday from Madinah, and was forced to break his fast in a taxi as roads were blocked off to control the crowds entering the Grand Mosque ahead of the 27th night of Ramadan. 

He described the hospitality of locals as “amazing,” and was given food by strangers to break his fast. 

“There were people walking around offering those who were stuck in their cars dates and water — eventually someone came to the car and gave us six burgers, so that was our iftar and suhoor sorted,” he said. 

He had previously spent a few days in Madinah and said that breaking his fast at the Prophet’s Mosque was a beautiful experience.




Dr. Hussain Anwar sits in the courtyard of the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah. (Supplied)

“Even though Madinah was busy, there’s always a sense of tranquility and peace in the city and there’s always an air of calmness despite the amount of people,”  Anwar said. 

“The people of Madinah are so nice and generous and at iftar time you get people pulling you to come and eat on their sufra to break your fast with them.” 




People wait to break their fast at the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah. (@wmngovsa)

He added that there have been significant changes in the way that people pay their respects to the Prophet in Madinah post-pandemic, which has made the process much easier for visitors. 

“It’s a lot more organized and you have to join a queue. There is also another queue to visit the noble Rawdah,” he said.

Anwar used the Haramain High Speed Railway to travel between the two holy cities, and also from Jeddah to Madinah when he first arrived in the Kingdom.

“The Haramain High Speed Railway is absolutely brilliant. It got us from Madinah to Makkah within 2 hours 30 minutes,” he said.

“We also used the train to get from Jeddah to Madinah when we landed. It was an amazing experience, very quick — it took us from Jeddah to Madinah in 1 hour 40 minutes, it’s incredible.”

Anwar has previously spent Ramadan in the two holy cities and said that the same journey had taken him between 4-5 hours in the past by road.

“This seems like a much safer and quicker option. The Haramain High Speed Railway is very comfortable and it was a very nice experience. So we opted to use the train again to travel from Madinah to Makkah,” he said. 




Worshippers pray at the Grand Mosque in Makkah on the 27th night of Ramadan. (@ReasahAlharmain)

“The economy class was completely filled out so we traveled in business class. It’s a very popular option amongst Umrah pilgrims and visitors because it’s a lot easier, you just sit on a train and it takes you straight there. There’s no stopping and starting, there’s no worrying about traffic, it takes you straight to the station so it’s great,” he added.

Anwar also commended the increase in women working in shops, hotels, train stations, and airports across the Kingdom.

“Before, employees would be predominantly men, but there are a lot more women working in Saudi Arabia now. At Jeddah airport, lots of the security personnel and Border Force staff were women and this is a good example of inclusion,” he said.  


Saudi industry minister meets UK mining companies, investors

Saudi industry minister meets UK mining companies, investors
Updated 25 June 2022

Saudi industry minister meets UK mining companies, investors

Saudi industry minister meets UK mining companies, investors
  • Bandar Ibrahim Alkhorayef on official visit to Britain to highlight opportunities
  • Kingdom’s mineral wealth estimated at $1.3 trillion, including phosphates, gold, copper, zinc

LONDON: The Saudi Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar Ibrahim Alkhorayef has held a meeting with mining companies and investors in Britain, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

He highlighted investment opportunities in the Kingdom’s mining and industrial sectors during his official visit to the UK, which was organized by his ministry under the theme “Invest in Saudi Arabia.”

Alkhorayef and his team reviewed the most important elements that attract exploration and mining in the Kingdom. Several British mining companies outlined their successes in investing in Saudi Arabia. 

The ministry detailed the huge potential and strong infrastructure that make the Kingdom one of the best investment environments in the global mining sector.

The ministry’s delegation also invited attendees to the international mining conference that Saudi Arabia holds annually in Riyadh.

Throughout his visit, Alkhorayef stressed the Kingdom’s great interest in enhancing investments as it aims to exploit mineral wealth estimated at $1.3 trillion.

This sum includes stores of phosphates that are valued at $321 billion, gold at $229 billion, copper at $222 billion and zinc at $138 billion.


Hajj pilgrims praise receiving ‘finest services’ at Saudi Arabia’s Halat Ammar crossing

Hajj pilgrims praise receiving ‘finest services’ at Saudi Arabia’s Halat Ammar crossing
Updated 25 June 2022

Hajj pilgrims praise receiving ‘finest services’ at Saudi Arabia’s Halat Ammar crossing

Hajj pilgrims praise receiving ‘finest services’ at Saudi Arabia’s Halat Ammar crossing
  • Pilgrims expressed their appreciation for the great efforts made by hosts Saudi Arabia to make their pilgrimage safe, comfortable and meaningful

JEDDAH: Officials at the Halat Ammar border crossing are continuing their efforts to welcome pilgrims from abroad through an integrated system of services provided by civil, military, and government agencies.

The services aim to better help pilgrims and improve the quality of services provided by the Saudi government, from the moment pilgrims arrive in the Kingdom, on their way to the holy sites, and until they return to their home countries.

Under the direct supervision and follow-up of Tabuk Gov. Prince Fahd bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz, the region’s Hajj work committee at Halat Ammar’s Pilgrims’ City also provides medical services and religious awareness programs.

Pilgrims expressed their satisfaction with the services provided, saying that King Salman had spared no effort to help his Muslim brothers and sisters wherever they were.

Palestinian pilgrim Widad Ibrahim expressed her great pleasure in being among this year’s pilgrims. She also thanked the Saudi authorities for the services they were providing.

“The pilgrims are receiving the finest services, and for that, I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation for the services and hospitality we found. In fact, they reflect the Saudi government and people's interest in serving the guests of Allah who come from all corners of the world to perform their Hajj rituals,” Ibrahim said.

Pilgrims also expressed their appreciation for the great efforts made by Saudi Arabia in utilizing its capabilities and services to aid pilgrims coming through the Halat Ammar border point so they could perform their rituals in an atmosphere of security, safety, comfort, stability, and tranquillity.

Another Palestinian, Wael Al-Humaidat, said he was happy for the opportunity to perform his first Hajj. He commented on the excellent services provided by the Saudi government and the warm welcome pilgrims had received.

Al-Humaidat prayed for Saudi Arabia and its people to be protected from evil. He also called for Allah to perpetuate his blessings of security and safety upon Saudi Arabia.

 

 


Boulevard Riyadh’s mixed bag of summer activities to keep enthusiasts busy

For adrenaline junkies, Doos Karting is the perfect place for you to show off your driving skills
For adrenaline junkies, Doos Karting is the perfect place for you to show off your driving skills
Updated 25 June 2022

Boulevard Riyadh’s mixed bag of summer activities to keep enthusiasts busy

For adrenaline junkies, Doos Karting is the perfect place for you to show off your driving skills
  • Karting, online gaming, rock climbing and arts all available
  • Wide array of restaurants, areas to relax and enjoy karaoke

RIYADH: Now that summer has arrived and the school year ended, Boulevard Riyadh City is the place to be with activities for everyone. It’s best to go early because entry is free and the place will be packed.

Doos Karting

For adrenaline junkies, Doos Karting is the perfect place for you to show off your driving skills and win podiums against family and friends.

The pre-Formula 1 stage race lasts anywhere between five and eight laps on two tracks. The first is 435 meters and has three challenging turns. The second is more streamlined, at 465 meters, with only two turns.

You can have a great time and experience an adrenaline rush while traveling at a top speed of 80 km/h.

Up to 10 karters can race concurrently on the multi-level tracks.

Takenda

Avoid the summer heat and enjoy a fantastic fun day in Takenda, the Middle East’s most prominent technology entertainment destination.

Takenda connects to a lounge where people can sit, relax, and enjoy a beverage while taking in the scenery of the boulevard.

You can also have a karaoke night with friends, throw a party with a stage and projector, enjoy a mascot show, and have three hours of VIP parking.

Takenda has over 60,000 games suitable for all ages, whether you are five or 50.

Visitors can play classic ones like bumper cars, arcade, table hockey, novelty, and virtual reality in a modern setting.

Adventure Park

If you like physical activities, the indoor adventure park is for you.

The place allows you to scale 10 different walls inspired by real locations in the Kingdom, including the mountains of Tuwaiq, Shammar, Hijaz, Al-Lawz, Faisal’s Finger, Al-Qara and Souda. There are also other walls mimicking climbing areas in Wadi Lajab, Harrat Rahat and Ain Heet Cave.

Children can also play in the monkey cage or on trampolines.

In the future, the company will open halls in Baha and other regions of Saudi Arabia.

Upark

If you are interested in skateboarding, Upark’s facilities will allow you to enjoy yourself thoroughly.

For beginners, training is provided for one-hour sessions.

Avalanche

Let’s not forget the world’s tallest fun slide in the Avalanche attraction for those daring enough. In the same area, a special section has been set up for those wanting to paint, draw or make pottery.

Up to 10 karters can race simultaneously on the multi-level tracks. (Supplied)

 


Bahrain to be first to connect with Saudi Arabia’s Seha Virtual Hospital

Saudi Health Minister Fahad Al-Jalajel meets his Bahraini counterpart Dr. Jalila Al-Sayed in Riyadh. (SPA)
Saudi Health Minister Fahad Al-Jalajel meets his Bahraini counterpart Dr. Jalila Al-Sayed in Riyadh. (SPA)
Updated 25 June 2022

Bahrain to be first to connect with Saudi Arabia’s Seha Virtual Hospital

Saudi Health Minister Fahad Al-Jalajel meets his Bahraini counterpart Dr. Jalila Al-Sayed in Riyadh. (SPA)
  • Saudi, Bahraini ministers discuss deal to join digital network

RIYADH: Bahrain is set to become the first country to sign up with Saudi Arabia’s Seha Virtual Hospital, the largest network of its kind in the world.

Saudi Health Minister Fahad Al-Jalajel recently met his Bahraini counterpart Dr. Jalila Al-Sayed, who is on a visit to the Kingdom, for talks on an agreement that will link Bahrain with the virtual hospital.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The ministers discussed strengthening cooperation between the two countries in a range of health fields, such as medical research, emerging diseases and monitoring post- vaccine complications.

• The two sides also reviewed joint efforts in the field of health insurance, as well as the mobile health care experience in Bahrain.

The hospital was launched in February this year as part of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to digitalize its healthcare sector.

Al-Jalajel outlined the functions of the Seha Virtual Hospital and its command and control center, and welcomed the prospect of Bahrain becoming the first country to be linked with the facility.

The ministers also discussed strengthening cooperation between the two countries in a range of health fields, such as medical research, emerging diseases and monitoring post-vaccine complications.

Al-Sayed highlighted the importance of cooperation in the fields of genetic diseases and genes, telemedicine and clinical trials.

The two sides also reviewed joint efforts in the field of health insurance, as well as the mobile health care experience in Bahrain.

Later, the Bahraini minister toured the Seha Virtual Hospital and was given a detailed explanation of the facility’s services. She also visited the command and control center.

With a growing live network of 130 connected hospitals, Seha Virtual Hospital is the largest of its kind in the world. The only other virtual hospital to rival it is in the US, with 43 connected hospitals.

Patients of the virtual hospital will no longer need to travel to different parts of the Kingdom to be seen by specialized physicians, nor will they be limited by 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. clinic hours.

Earlier, an official told Arab News that patients can now receive second and third medical opinions from the same consulting room.

Unlike simple video calls with doctors, the virtual hospital allows patients to visit their local hospital and attend a real-time live video clinical session with top specialists from across the Kingdom. During the session, vitals signs can be shared, while tests and X-rays can also be taken and shared with the network of specialists.

Emergency interventions can be provided round the clock, and real-time consultations with top specialists will guide local junior staff in dealing with complex cases.

Seha Virtual Hospital covers 12 main specialties and more than 35 subspecialties, including hospital-at-home follow-ups, where chronically ill patients, from the comfort of their homes, can stay connected with doctors.

 


Classic diners serve up a ‘blast from the past’ on Jeddah Season’s City Walk

Burger Circus and cake shop Butter will stay throughout Jeddah Season. (Supplied)
Burger Circus and cake shop Butter will stay throughout Jeddah Season. (Supplied)
Updated 24 June 2022

Classic diners serve up a ‘blast from the past’ on Jeddah Season’s City Walk

Burger Circus and cake shop Butter will stay throughout Jeddah Season. (Supplied)
  • In an American diner, Leung said, the menu offers a wide range of choices for breakfast, lunch or dinner. “We just wanted to focus on just two burgers, but in an American diner theme”

JEDDAH: Two classic 1950s-themed diner options from Hong Kong have made their way to Jeddah Season’s grand theme park, City Walk.

With vintage music in the background, staff in “soda jerk” uniforms, and a one-page menu of burgers, fries and shakes, Burger Circus offers visitors a “blast from the past” experience.

Burger Circus and cake shop Butter arrived on May 5 and will stay throughout the two months of the Jeddah Season.

Both outlets belong to Black Sheep, a Chinese company with about 35 restaurants in Hong Kong and one in Shanghai.

Jonathan Leung, operations director of Black Sheep, explained the concept behind both outlets, adding that it is “an honor” to be operating in Jeddah.

HIGHLIGHT

‘Burger Circus is a 1950s American diner. One of the co-founders of Black Sheep, Christopher Mark, grew up in Toronto, Canada, and his family used to own diners, so he spent a lot of time and growing up at a diner,’ said Jonathan Leung, operations director of Black Sheep.

“Burger Circus is a 1950s American diner. One of the co-founders of Black Sheep, Christopher Mark, grew up in Toronto, Canada, and his family used to own diners, so he spent a lot of time and growing up at a diner,” he said.

“So it’s a little bit of nostalgic childhood memories. He has always wanted to open a diner.”

In an American diner, Leung said, the menu offers a wide range of choices for breakfast, lunch or dinner. “We just wanted to focus on just two burgers, but in an American diner theme,” he said.

Burger Circus also offers two side orders, two milkshakes (vanilla and chocolate) and two drinks on its menu.

“We want to bring good food and good stories to Jeddah; we just want to do that,” he said.

“People in Jeddah or in Saudi Arabia are open minded to try new things. There’s room for everything here, we love it here,” he added.

Talking about Butter, Leung said the background story is about a single mother with two children, who works very hard at a diner to make ends meet.

“She’s strong and generous, but she’s also very sassy. That’s Butter,” he said.

“Burger Circus and Butter go hand in hand and go very well together, it sort of came from the same era; diners prefer classic American cake,” he added.

Luke Barry, culinary director for Leylaty Group, worked with Black Sheep in Hong Kong for six years.

“I’ve always loved Black Sheep restaurants. We have a very good relationship, so I thought Jeddah Season is a good opportunity to bring them here,” he said.

“They have 30 to 35 restaurants, niche burger restaurants that are very strong and conceptualized, and Saudi Arabia has a lot of room for what they do. They have amazing restaurants, from casual to premium to Michelin star,” he added.

Barry said that they tried to replicate Hong Kong’s Burger Circus in Jeddah as much as possible.

“We spent 16 hours painting a wall (that is identical to the branch in Hong Kong), the exact posters that you find in Hong Kong, and the uniform is almost exactly the same,” said Barry.

“It was very important to us to use the exact same playlist, to bring Hong Kong’s Burger Circus here,” he added.