As Hajj 2022 draws closer, Saudi diplomat cites efforts to provide the best possible service to all pilgrims

The Indonesian pilgrims were presented flowers, dates and Zamzam water bottles upon arrival. (SPA)
1 / 4
The Indonesian pilgrims were presented flowers, dates and Zamzam water bottles upon arrival. (SPA)
As Hajj 2022 draws closer, Saudi diplomat cites efforts to provide the best possible service to all pilgrims
2 / 4
Indonesian pilgrims were presented flowers, dates and Zamzam water bottles upon arrival. (Supplied)
As Hajj 2022 draws closer, Saudi diplomat cites efforts to provide the best possible service to all pilgrims
3 / 4
Indonesia had the highest share of hajj permits reaching to 100,051 permits. (Supplied)
As Hajj 2022 draws closer, Saudi diplomat cites efforts to provide the best possible service to all pilgrims
4 / 4
Al-Thaqafi explained that the Indonesian people, in general, are known for being calm and respectful in their everyday lives, and this was reflected in their Hajj and Umrah trips. (Supplied)
Short Url
Updated 08 June 2022

As Hajj 2022 draws closer, Saudi diplomat cites efforts to provide the best possible service to all pilgrims

The Indonesian pilgrims were presented flowers, dates and Zamzam water bottles upon arrival. (SPA)
  • The first group of pilgrims to arrive ahead of this year’s pilgrimage was from Indonesia, which has been allocated 100,051 Hajj permits, the largest number granted to any single country
  • 1 million pilgrims will take part in this year’s Hajj, which begins next month and is the first that foreign pilgrims have been able to attend since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020.

MAKKAH: With the start of this year’s Hajj just a month away, the Saudi ambassador to Indonesia, Essam Al-Thaqafi, said the Saudi government is working hard to ensure it provides the best possible service to pilgrims from all over the world. This year’s Hajj is the first that foreign pilgrims have been able to attend since the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020.

The envoy added that preparations by staff at the Saudi embassy in Jakarta have also been top notch. It was previously announced that Indonesia has been allocated 100,051 Hajj permits, the largest number granted to any single country.




Saudi ambassador to Indonesia Essam Al-Thaqafi stressed that the Hajj preparations made by the Saudi embassy in Jakarta were top-notch. (Supplied)

Saudi Authorities announced in April that after two years of strict pandemic restrictions, 1 million pilgrims will be able to join the Hajj pilgrimage this year. This is a big increase over last year, when it was restricted to 60,000 pilgrims, all of whom resided within the Kingdom, but still well below the pre-pandemic total of 2.5 million in 2019.

Al-Thaqafi said the people of Indonesia were overjoyed when the Kingdom announced the expansion of Hajj numbers this year as the pandemic recedes. His embassy is coordinating with the Indonesian Ministry of Religious Affairs and the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, he added, to ensure that the journey is as easy as possible for Indonesian pilgrims. Last weekend, he noted, the first group of foreign pilgrims to arrive in Saudi Arabia for Hajj came from Indonesia.




Indonesian pilgrims were presented flowers, dates and Zamzam water bottles upon arrival. (Supplied)

Al-Thaqafi also praised the Makkah Route initiative, and the assistance provided to it by the Saudi embassy in Jakarta. The initiative was launched by the Saudi Ministry of Interior in 2019 in five countries — Indonesia, Pakistan, Malaysia, Morocco and Bangladesh — to make it as easy as possible for pilgrims to complete the required checks and procedures, and make the journey from their home countries to their Hajj accommodation. More than 60 Saudi officials are working at Soekarno-Hatta Airport in Indonesia to provide services for pilgrims, the envoy said.

Some Indonesians have to wait for more than 30 years to get a permit for Hajj, said Al-Thaqafi, which means the pilgrimage is truly the journey of a lifetime. He added that the Indonesian people are generally known for being calm and respectful, and this is reflected in the way they conduct themselves during Hajj and Umrah trips.




Indonesian pilgrims were presented flowers, dates and Zamzam water bottles upon arrival. (Supplied)

“We all saw the arrival of the first batch of Indonesian pilgrims to Madinah a few days ago, and how wonderfully organized they were,” he said. Al-Thaqafi also commended the Saudi workers who will serve pilgrims during Hajj.

The flight carrying the first batch of 358 Indonesian pilgrims arrived on June 4, carrying 358 pilgrims. They were greeted by Mohammed Al-Bijawe, the undersecretary for visit affairs at the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, Abdul Aziz Ahmed, the Indonesian ambassador to Saudi Arabia, and other officials. Upon arrival the pilgrims were presented with flowers, dates and bottles of Zamzam water.

 


Saudi festival Outlet 2022 sets new Guinness World Record

Saudi festival Outlet 2022 sets new Guinness World Record
Updated 02 October 2022

Saudi festival Outlet 2022 sets new Guinness World Record

Saudi festival Outlet 2022 sets new Guinness World Record
  • The festival includes 3 million items manufactured by more than 1,500 international brands

RIYADH: The Outlet 2022 shopping festival, being organized by the General Entertainment Authority, has won Guinness World Records recognition as the largest pop-outlet center.

Covering an area of 146,623 square meters, festival activities started on Saturday in Riyadh. It includes 3 million items, manufactured by more than 1,500 international brands, and discounts of up to 70 percent on fashion, accessories, and cosmetic products designed by international experts.

Farah Ahmed, who lives in Al-Rehab neighborhood where the outlet is located, described it as “impressive,” while Mohammed Al-Bugami, a Saudi private-sector employee, praised the “top organization” he witnessed on the first day.

“I have no words to describe how great and well-organized this festival is. I would like to thank the organizers for their efforts in making this shopping festival a reality,” he said.

Entry to the festival is free and outlet sections include home accessories, leather-made items, bridal gowns, suitcases, and electronics.

The fashion section includes products by names such as Zara, Massimo Dutti, GAP, Ralph Lauren, Diesel, Lacoste, Roberto Cavalli, Versace, and Mango. Additionally, visitors can choose between various sports shoe brands, including Adidas, Puma, and Nike.

GEA chairman, Turki Al-Asheikh, thanked Kuwaiti actresses Hayat Al-Fahad and Suad Abdullah, and Saudi actor Bashir Al-Ghunaim for taking part in the official festival promo that gained millions of views.

The GEA aims to encourage private-sector organizations to develop entertainment activities in the Kingdom. It was established in line with Saudi Vision 2030 to organize and develop the entertainment sector in the country and provide options and entertainment opportunities for all segments of society.


KSRelief provides COVID-19 vaccines, health services in Yemen

KSRelief provides COVID-19 vaccines, health services in Yemen
Updated 02 October 2022

KSRelief provides COVID-19 vaccines, health services in Yemen

KSRelief provides COVID-19 vaccines, health services in Yemen
  • This comes as part of the Kingdom’s efforts to support Yemen and its people

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) provided health services to displaced people in Yemen, as well as Coronavirus vaccines in the country, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Saturday. 
 
KSRelief has been providing support to Yemen’s national vaccination campaign, implemented by the Yemeni Ministry of Public Health and Population, in 12 governorates. 

KSRelief worked with the ministry from Sept. 24 to 28 as part of efforts to vaccinate a wider group of the population against the virus, according to SPA. 
 
Through the campaign, 446,966 people were vaccinated and 2,242 members of the Yemeni vaccination team were trained.

KSRelief also deployed 320 volunteer teams and 180 mobile teams to vaccinate the targeted population, SPA reported. 

The organization also set up mobile medical centers at Waalan Camp in the Haradh District to provide treatment to displaced people, according to SPA. 

From Sept. 14 to 20, the clinics received 56 beneficiaries with various health conditions in different clinics and departments and provided them with necessary medical services.

The KSRelief clinics also provided 162 individuals with medication.

The vaccination campaign and health services all come within the framework of the Kingdom’s goal to continue to provide support to Yemen and its people, SPA said.


Saudi Arabia’s KSRelief continues humanitarian efforts in flood-hit Pakistan 

Saudi Arabia’s KSRelief continues humanitarian efforts in flood-hit Pakistan 
Updated 02 October 2022

Saudi Arabia’s KSRelief continues humanitarian efforts in flood-hit Pakistan 

Saudi Arabia’s KSRelief continues humanitarian efforts in flood-hit Pakistan 

Riyadh: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) is continuing its efforts to provide humanitarian aid to flood-hit Pakistan, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Saturday.

The team distributed 2,095 food baskets, 40 tents, and 400 mosquito nets in various provinces to 14,665 people on Friday, according to SPA. 

The aid comes within the Saudi Relief Land Bridge, directed by King Salman, to support Pakistan and its people following the disastrous floods that struck the country. 
The torrential rains and flooding, which began in mid-June and lasted for weeks, has killed over 1,600 people and affected nearly 33 million people Pakistan.


Global experts discuss economic, social impact of Saudi coffee in Jazan forum

Global experts discuss economic, social impact of Saudi coffee in Jazan forum
Updated 02 October 2022

Global experts discuss economic, social impact of Saudi coffee in Jazan forum

Global experts discuss economic, social impact of Saudi coffee in Jazan forum
  • Experts gather to discuss industry’s economic, social and environmental impact
  • Culture Ministry launches grant to support research into coffee sector

JAZAN: Experts from around the world have gathered in Jazan for the Saudi Coffee Sustainability Forum, which got underway on Saturday.

Organized by the Ministry of Culture and held at the Grand Millennium Jazan, the two-day event will discuss the value chain of Saudi coffee and its economic, social and environmental impact.

Among the speakers and guests are Dr. Bandar Al-Rabiah, who heads the development impact department at the Agricultural Development Fund, Dhafer bin Ayedh Al-Fahad, director of the Jazan Mountain Development Authority, and Keren Kellard, a consultant at the National Center for Social Studies in Riyadh.

Al-Rabiah said at the opening session: “The idea isn’t just to increase productivity, we want to help the farmer to benefit from his plantation and to allow tourists to visit the farm and in effect generate a larger income for them.”

One of the highlights of the opening day was the launch by the Ministry of Culture of the Saudi Coffee Research Grant. Organized in partnership with Saudi Coffee Co. and the Public Investment Fund it aims to encourage local researchers to produce scientific papers related to Saudi coffee in three areas.

The first is the history of coffee in the Arabian Peninsula, covering everything from ancient trade routes to the events that led to its spread in Saudi Arabia.

The second relates to coffee culture, including the social practices, rituals and festive traditions within the Kingdom.

The third relates to cultural research into developing Saudi coffee through government procurement in order to promote a sustainable economy and preserve its heritage.

Mayada Badr, CEO of the Culinary Arts Commission, said: “The Ministry of Culture aims to strengthen the position of Saudi coffee. It aims to guide the community to the culture associated with coffee, to be proud of its distinctive identity, and to thank farmers and community members for preserving our culture.”

During the forum’s first session, Al-Fahad highlighted the efforts his team have made in cultivating the coffee industry in the Kingdom over the past 40 years, most notably with the establishment of an experimental facility that seeks to find the best agricultural crops for growing in the mountainous ranges in Jazan. He added that 900,000 coffee seedlings would be distributed for research use in the coming years.

Al-Fahad concluded his speech by saying the Culinary Arts Commission intended to establish the Saudi Coffee Museum in partnership with the Ministry of Culture and that the Kingdom had joined the World Coffee Organization.

The second session of the day discussed investment opportunities in coffee production and looked at sustainable methods of economic growth.

Karl Weinhold, a researcher in rural development and the coffee economy, said: “Most of my work revolves around how these people (farmers) can wrestle around with the institutions that they have been subjected to in order to achieve some sense of prosperity.”

Hassan Hajooj, a professor of economics at the College of Business Administration at King Faisal University, said that the coffee sector accounted for about 0.86 percent of Saudi Arabia’s gross domestic product in 2020 and that that figure was set to rise to 6.18 percent over the next five years.

The Kingdom, which had 22,000 coffee shops in 2021, produces about 300 tons of high-quality Saudi Khawlani coffee a year, which is consumed locally and exported to the Gulf Cooperation Council countries.

The final session on the first day focused on the history and cultural influence of coffee.


Saudi artists at Artorama showcase interactive artworks

Saudi artists at Artorama showcase interactive artworks
Updated 02 October 2022

Saudi artists at Artorama showcase interactive artworks

Saudi artists at Artorama showcase interactive artworks
  • State-of-the-art installations are offering visitors a unique immersive experience

RIYADH: Creative artworks and state-of-the-art installations by Saudi artists at Artorama are offering visitors a unique immersive experience.

Artorama, Nowaar Entertainment’s latest event, will run until Oct. 21 in Riyadh’s Laysen Valley. 

The first zone features distinctive designs from five Saudi artists. The visitor must physically touch the designs to view the artworks in their full, colorful glory.

“Eternal Light” by Ameera Sheikh was originally executed as the cover for the yet-to-be-published novel by Sara Al-Hussain. It tells the story of a young girl who sets off on a journey to uncover a mysterious power as she faces unknown evils ahead. 

“I wanted to show the magical and mysterious environment but with an ominous and an unsettling feeling that makes you feel a little anxious as you are drawn into the piece, just like our heroine,” Sheikh told Arab News. 

The artist was told in the past to leave Saudi Arabia in pursuit of job opportunities abroad, but she saw the great potential for a better future at the time, which has now proven to be the case for aspiring artists. 

“I feel very grateful for being patient. We had a little community of artists here where we helped each other improve by hosting small galleries and gatherings to keep it active and help it grow,” she said. “Now our community has a very powerful impact both globally and locally, and this has been strengthened by the current growing embrace of art and artists in the country.” 

‘Eternal Light’ by Ameera Sheikh tells the story of a young girl who sets off on a journey to uncover a mysterious power as she faces unknown evils ahead. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

In illustrator Ethar Balkhair’s piece, the visitor’s touch brings two figures to life in an explosion of color, highlighting the cultural and social aspects of Al-Balad, Jeddah’s historical area. “Jeddah is all about color. I really wanted to reflect the spirit of Al-Balad in this art. At the same time, I wanted to tell the story of Hijazi people,” she told Arab News.

Balkhair was born into a family with a passion for art; one of their household activities was to sit down and draw together. Her collaboration with Artorama was the first opportunity for her to showcase her illustrations in a local setting, but her work has reached far beyond Riyadh, with big names such as Vogue and Bobbi Brown featuring her art.

“Recently, with the initiatives from the Ministry of Culture and others, people have a chance to release the art that’s inside of them. Now, everyone has a space. In Saudi Arabia, the art scene is only growing,” Balkhair said. 

The event allows visitors to indulge in their senses and experience art in immersive and innovative ways. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

“Artwork doesn’t just have to center around beauty. There’s a story behind it. Now, they’re shedding light on the artist behind the art, and that supports us even more, makes us more confident, and allows us to explore more without fear,” she said. 

Mahmoud Zaini’s “Human Sustainability” takes a deep dive into the ethics and future of modern technology. The eccentric piece, drawn in 2017, raises awareness of the tech industry’s impact on humanity. “I was extremely disgusted by our trajectory as a race. Eventually, technology will turn us into cogs in its machine. I decided, therefore, to illustrate that concept with this contraption that recycles everything coming in and out of this ‘consumer’ to grant him a more sustainable existence,” Zaini told Arab News. 

HIGHLIGHTS

• The first zone features distinctive designs from five Saudi artists. The visitor must physically touch the designs to view the artworks in their full, colorful glory. Zone 1 also has an infinity room and a photo booth station, where visitors can engage with dynamic backgrounds.

• Zone 2 features a variety of attractions including a ball pit with interactive games, a projection drawing station, 3D printing, immersive swings and a volcano sandbox, where both children and adults can learn more about the science of volcanoes.

• Anamorphic projection mapping technologies in Zone 3 utilize high-power projectors to give visitors the illusion of seeing the building’s interior while standing outside of it.

The artist expressed his delight with the General Entertainment Authority’s interest in highlighting the topic. “I am extremely happy with the trajectory we’re headed in as citizens of the Kingdom, where art pieces are appreciated and dialogue around them is fostered. What an incredible time to be in as a Saudi artist interested in big questions,” he said. 

Zone 1 also has an infinity room and a photo booth station, where visitors can engage with dynamic backgrounds. Exhibition-goers can color and design their own race car, which is then scanned and projected as if racing through the streets of Riyadh. 

Zone 2 features a variety of attractions including a ball pit with interactive games, a projection drawing station, 3D printing, immersive swings and a volcano sandbox, where both children and adults can learn more about the science of volcanoes as they build their own. Anamorphic projection mapping technologies in Zone 3 utilize high-power projectors to give visitors the illusion of seeing the building’s interior while standing outside of it. 

The event allows visitors to indulge in their senses and experience art in immersive and innovative ways. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

“This event releases the inner kid inside of us. We all like to play, we all like to experiment, and this is a good place to test that out,” Khalid Sonbol, one of the project managers at Nowaar Entertainment, told Arab News.

Artorama was one of the winning pitches under the General Entertainment Authority’s “Ideas for Entertainment” initiative in 2021, which aimed to empower 20 Saudi projects centering around entertainment activities and preserving Saudi heritage for future generations. Nowaar Entertainment seeks to amplify Saudi voices, showcasing exclusive works by Saudi artists and creators around the Kingdom — even in their product gift shop. “We’re interested in showing what we have in the Kingdom,” Sonbol said. “We believe entertainment is necessary. Most people used to travel to have an actual entertaining experience. They would go to museums, parks. Now, we don’t need that. We have that here,” he said.