Makkah Route program opens ‘new horizon’ for Bangladeshi Hajj pilgrims

The number is half the quota Bangladesh received in 2019, the last Hajj season before the coronavirus pandemic, but so is the total of pilgrims who will arrive in the Kingdom this year. (Supplied)
The number is half the quota Bangladesh received in 2019, the last Hajj season before the coronavirus pandemic, but so is the total of pilgrims who will arrive in the Kingdom this year. (Supplied)
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Updated 02 July 2022

Makkah Route program opens ‘new horizon’ for Bangladeshi Hajj pilgrims

Makkah Route program opens ‘new horizon’ for Bangladeshi Hajj pilgrims
  • Bangladesh is among five Muslim majority countries — including Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Morocco — where Saudi Arabia is operating its Makkah Route initiative

DHAKA: Tens of thousands of Hajj pilgrims arriving at Bangladesh’s main international airport for flights to Saudi Arabia are being eased through the immigration process by officials from the Kingdom.

The meet and greet service being laid on at Shah Jalal International Airport in the capital Dhaka is aimed at offering help and advice to worshippers heading for Makkah, while streamlining documentation procedures.

Bangladesh is among five Muslim majority countries — including Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Morocco — where Saudi Arabia is operating its Makkah Route initiative.

The program, launched in 2019, is dedicated to Hajj pilgrims, allowing them to fulfill all visa, customs, and health requirements in one place, at the airport of origin, and save long hours of waiting before and upon reaching the Kingdom having had already gone through the process at home.

FASTFACT

60k

Bangladeshi pilgrims will perform the Hajj this year.

“It’s a new thing that opened a new horizon and our heartiest gratefulness to the Saudi authorities,” Dhaka Hajj office director Saiful Islam told Arab News earlier this week.

“Altogether, 60,000 pilgrims will be able to travel from Bangladesh.”

The number is half the quota Bangladesh received in 2019, the last Hajj season before the coronavirus pandemic, but so is the total of pilgrims who will arrive in the Kingdom this year.

The annual pilgrimage was restricted to only 1,000 people living in Saudi Arabia in 2020 and limited to 60,000 domestic participants in 2021.

As COVID-19 curbs have been lifted this year, Saudi Arabia will welcome 1 million foreign and domestic pilgrims, compared with the pre-pandemic 2.5 million. Those departing from Dhaka airport are being taken care of by 50 Saudi officials working round the clock to facilitate their pre-immigration.

One of them, Mohammed Mozammel Huq, had been dreaming about Hajj since he saw his father embarking on the pilgrimage decades ago. “It was my lifelong dream to perform the Hajj. We are very happy with the Hajj management system,” he said, adding that his journey had so far been “very smooth.”

Businessman Yahia Helal said pilgrims seemed to be satisfied with how their departures had been managed.

“We have completed the immigration formalities in a very easy process,” he told Arab News. “Saudi immigration part is also done in a short span of time.”

Rokeya Khatun Lata, a homemaker, also noted the speed of the process.

“In Makkah Route initiative, it took me less than 30 minutes to complete the immigration process,” she said. “I am feeling very happy from the very outset of the journey.”


Saudi wildlife agency discovers skeletons of extinct cheetahs

Saudi wildlife agency discovers skeletons of extinct cheetahs
Updated 17 August 2022

Saudi wildlife agency discovers skeletons of extinct cheetahs

Saudi wildlife agency discovers skeletons of extinct cheetahs
  • Find shows the big cats must have once migrated across the Arabian Peninsula

RIYADH: Experts from the National Center for Wildlife in Riyadh have discovered the ancient skeletons of 17 cheetahs in a cave in Rafha, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The center said the find was significant because it provided rare evidence of hunter-gatherer activity in the Arabian Peninsula.

The discovery was made during research into the biodiversity of caves and bodies of water in the area.

The center’s CEO Dr. Muhammad Ali Qurban said cheetahs had been extinct on the Arabian Peninsula for more than 50 years and that even specimens kept in museums and research centers were very rare.

The discovery of the skeletons, some of which had been mummified, provided the first definitive evidence that cheetahs once migrated across the peninsula to the north of Saudi Arabia, Qurban said.

He added that the find would provide valuable information to support captive breeding and resettlement programs, as well as future research.

The National Center for Wildlife has shelters for cheetahs all over the world, as it works to breed and resettle the animals in Saudi Arabia.


65 countries import dates during Unaizah season

65 countries import dates during Unaizah season
Updated 17 August 2022

65 countries import dates during Unaizah season

65 countries import dates during Unaizah season
  • Saudi dates exported to Gulf Cooperation Council states, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, and the US
  • Sukkary rutab, suqai, and medjoul dates are the most popular with foreign buyers

RIYADH: 65 countries including Arab states have imported Saudi dates since the beginning of the Unaizah international dates season, Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.

The countries include Gulf Cooperation Council states, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, and the US.

The head of the agricultural committee at the Unaizah Chamber and the season’s president of external export, Abdul Rahman Al-Karida, said that sukkary rutab dates are the most popular with foreign buyers due to their quality and availability, while the suqai and medjoul types took second and third place.

He added that some traders received the Saudi date mark, a quality mark that shows that products are safe. The mark is granted to certain institutions after checks are made to ensure that they meet the requirements of food safety and global markets.

Al-Karida added that special vehicles transport the dates from Unaizah every morning by land to their destination in less than 12 hours, while dates headed for countries further afield in the Arab world, north Africa and Europe are transported by sea.

Saudi date exports from the season have also been received for the first time this year in South Korea, he added.


President of Uzbekistan arrives in Jeddah after visiting Prophet’s Mosque

President of Uzbekistan arrives in Jeddah after visiting Prophet’s Mosque
Updated 17 August 2022

President of Uzbekistan arrives in Jeddah after visiting Prophet’s Mosque

President of Uzbekistan arrives in Jeddah after visiting Prophet’s Mosque
  • Earlier, Mirziyoyev visited the holy city of Madinah where he paid his respects to Prophet Muhammad and visited his mosque

RIYADH: The president of Uzbekistan arrived in Jeddah on Wednesday, Saudi Press Agency reported.

Shavkat Mirziyoyev was received on arrival at King Abdulaziz International Airport by the deputy governor of the Makkah region Prince Badr bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz, the Minister of Investment Khalid Al-Falih, and other officials.

Earlier, Mirziyoyev visited the holy city of Madinah where he paid his respects to Prophet Muhammad and visited his mosque.

The President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev visits the International Fair and Museum of the Prophet’s Biography and Islamic Civilization in Madinah. (SPA)

While in Madinah, Mirziyoyev and his delegation also visited the International Fair and Museum of the Prophet’s Biography and Islamic Civilization.

Mirziyoyev was received on arrival at Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz International Airport by the acting governor of the Madinah region Prince Saud bin Khalid Al-Faisal and other officials.


GCF 2022 to focus on reconsidering global cyber arrangements

GCF 2022 to focus on reconsidering global cyber arrangements
Updated 17 August 2022

GCF 2022 to focus on reconsidering global cyber arrangements

GCF 2022 to focus on reconsidering global cyber arrangements
  • Forum to discuss geopolitical, strategic changes and prospects for shaping future of cybersecurity
  • Abdulrahman Alquaari: AI can be a powerful protective tool against cyber-attacks

RIYADH: The Global Cybersecurity Forum 2022, to be held Nov. 9-10 in Riyadh, will discuss accelerating geopolitical and strategic changes, and prospects for shaping the future of cybersecurity under the theme “Reconsidering the Global Cyber Arrangements.”  

Organized by the National Cybersecurity Authority under the patronage of King Salman, the forum is a leading global platform that opens horizons of knowledge on cybersecurity issues and builds the foundations of cooperation.

This year’s forum will witness the participation of elite decision-makers and executive officers, senior government officials and representatives of the most prominent international companies, non-governmental organizations and academic entities from around the world.

The presence of the GCF 2022 in Riyadh confirms the position of Saudi Arabia as a global leader in unifying international strategic discussions over issues related to cyberspace.

Sessions will cover a wide range of issues to promote development and enhance cooperation and partnerships between government and private entities around the world.

Five main discussions will be addressed in depth: "Prospects for Change in the Cyber Landscape,” which will deal with current and future cybersecurity threats; “Cyber Economies,” which will deal with areas benefiting from market forces, incentive programs and economic governance in shaping cyberspace; “Geo-Cyber Evolution,” which will deal with ever-changing global cyber arrangements; “Future of Cyber Work,” which will address ways to attract, develop and preserve talent; and “Cybersecurity — No One Left Behind,” which will deal with the search for practical solutions to bridge the cyber gap globally.

During the two-day forum, participants will look for solutions to all concerns in cybersecurity. The registration procedures for attending the GCF, as well as the names of local and international speakers, will be announced soon.

Abdulrahman Alquaari, a data science specialist, told Arab News: “Integration and use of software, technical solutions, and databases must be accompanied by relevant security measures

“Cybersecurity is an ever-growing industry. Notably, as technology evolves, artificial intelligence is becoming an integral part of cybersecurity, which helps organizations of different sizes and industries to promote cybersecurity efficiency. Therefore, it is inevitable to use artificial intelligence techniques to enhance and support cybersecurity,” he said.

“AI is a critical asset for organizations that use automation to increase the productivity and effectiveness of their operations,” Alquaari added, confirming that cybersecurity is one of the applications benefiting most from AI.

With the massive spread of internet of things devices, the number and sophistication of data breaches is increasing, but AI can be a powerful protective tool against cyber-attacks, he added.

“Where many people feel fear about AI in automating cybersecurity for several reasons — the most important of which is reducing job opportunities — I see exactly the opposite, as AI may take job opportunities while providing others, and it also helps in providing protection for data and information, and making decisions that may be made too late (by humans),” he explained.


Saudi Arabia’s Narcotics Control seize over 2M amphetamine pills hidden in floor mops 

Saudi Arabia’s Narcotics Control seize over 2M amphetamine pills hidden in floor mops 
Updated 17 August 2022

Saudi Arabia’s Narcotics Control seize over 2M amphetamine pills hidden in floor mops 

Saudi Arabia’s Narcotics Control seize over 2M amphetamine pills hidden in floor mops 
  • A Syrian resident who had arranged for the drugs to be delivered to him was arrested

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s narcotics control department seized 2,250,000 amphetamine pills hidden in a shipment of cleaning mops that were being smuggled through the Jeddah Islamic Port, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Wednesday. 

Users of the substance pay from $10 to $25 a pill according to research by the International Addiction Review journal, that puts the street value of this latest haul at a massive $22.5m to $56.2m.

A Syrian resident who had arranged for the drugs to be delivered to him was arrested, according to the official spokesman of the General Directorate of Narcotics Control, Major Muhammad Al-Nujaidi. 

Users of the substance pay from $10 to $25 a pill according to research by the International Addiction Review journal, that puts the street value of this latest haul at a massive $22.5m to $56.2m. (SPA)

The man has been referred to the Public Prosecution, the spokesman said. 

The Kingdom’s authorities said they have been cracking down on attempts to smuggle drugs into and out of the country to ensure the public’s safety.