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)
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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
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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
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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
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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)
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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.

 


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 4 min 31 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.


Saudi Arabia reports 106 new COVID-19 cases, 3 deaths

68 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Saudi Arabia. (AFP)
68 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Saudi Arabia. (AFP)
Updated 13 August 2022

Saudi Arabia reports 106 new COVID-19 cases, 3 deaths

68 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Saudi Arabia. (AFP)
  • 3,886 COVID-19 cases were still active, adding that 6,376 PCR tests were conducted in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number to almost 44 million

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia reported 106 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, according to the Ministry of Health. As a result, the total number of cases in the Kingdom over the course of the pandemic grew to 811,853.

The authorities also confirmed three new COVID-19-related deaths, raising the total number of fatalities to 9,269.

Of the new infections, 28 were recorded in Riyadh, 19 in Jeddah, 14 in Dammam, 5 in Makkah and 4 in Madinah. Several other cities recorded fewer than 20 new cases each.

The ministry also announced that 134 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom over the course of the pandemic to 798,698.

It said that 3,886 COVID-19 cases were still active, adding that 6,376 PCR tests were conducted in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number to almost 44 million.

The ministry said that of the current cases, 2 were in critical condition.

Nearly 68 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered since the Kingdom’s immunization campaign began, with more than 25 million people fully vaccinated.

The ministry, which has 587 vaccine centers across the country, urged people who had not yet received a jab to register for a series of injections through the Sehhaty app.