Grand Hajj Symposium launched in Makkah

Grand Hajj Symposium launched in Makkah
A view of the Kaaba at the Grand Mosque in Makkah. (@ReasahAlharmain)
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Updated 03 July 2022

Grand Hajj Symposium launched in Makkah

Grand Hajj Symposium launched in Makkah
  • The event, titled “Hajj after the Pandemic: Rituals and Care,” involves speakers, scholars, jurists and thinkers from the Kingdom and the Muslim world

MAKKAH: Saudi Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah inaugurated on Sunday in Makkah the 46th edition of the Grand Hajj Symposium.

The event, titled “Hajj after the Pandemic: Rituals and Care,” involves speakers, scholars, jurists and thinkers from the Kingdom and the Muslim world.

This year’s Grand Hajj Symposium will include sessions, discussions and lectures over a two-day period.

In the event’s opening session,“From Hajj to the World,” Al-Rabiah said that the COVID-19 pandemic “shocked the world in the beginning of 2020 in an unexpected and unprepared way.” He added that no one in the Muslim world could have foreseen the interruption that the pandemic brought to mosques, Hajj, Umrah, as well as education and daily life.

Al-Rabiah praised the decision of the Saudi leadership to continue holding Hajj amid the pandemic.

He said: “We recommended not to hold the Hajj rituals for that year (2020). However, King Salman decided not to interrupt this ritual and to limit the number of pilgrims to 1,000. And Hajj was held while respecting all precautionary and preemptive measures which guarantee the safety of the pilgrim, and the results were assuring and sound.”

A year later, he added, another successful Hajj season was held. Al-Rabiah said: “Especially that we were still at the beginning of providing vaccines to the Kingdom and the rest of the countries in the world, with giving priority to the safety of pilgrims. The Kingdom at the time decided to limit the number of pilgrims to 60,000 to guarantee their safety.”

Hajj this year “is limited to 1 million pilgrims upon the recommendation of the Ministry of Health,” he said. The decision allows Saudi authorities “to provide health services and ensure the safety of pilgrims.”

Sheikh Dr. Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, president of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque, said that the Saudi state has dedicated all its potential to serving the Hajj system.

He added that the Kingdom has promoted “amazing development” in Hajj through digital transformation, artificial intelligence, smart robots and translation technologies. These efforts convey a message of moderation, security, peace, tolerance, dialogue and coexistence to the world, Al-Sudais said.

He said that it is forbidden to transform Hajj rituals into political slogans or demonstrations, and that the pilgrimage should be performed in a message of moderation, justice and peace.


Saudi tourism gets chance to bloom in UN challenge

Saudi tourism gets chance to bloom in UN challenge
Updated 28 September 2022

Saudi tourism gets chance to bloom in UN challenge

Saudi tourism gets chance to bloom in UN challenge
  • The UNWTO’s Natalia Bayona said that Saudi Arabia is a “priority because of how the country is committed to creating tourism as a public policy and as an economic sector” 
  • Bayona added that goals in the country’s Vision 2030 for “youth empowerment, women’s empowerment, sustainability, and tourism” are central to the UNWTO’s mission

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s blossoming tourism industry is being offered the chance to grow even faster through a UN challenge that helps nurture the best businesses.

Natalia Bayona of the UN World Tourism Organization has said she wants Saudi entrepreneurs to enter her agency’s Awake Tourism Challenge, whose previous winners have gained international experience and expert advice, and raised $350 million of investment over the four years it has run.

Bayona, the agency’s director of innovation, education and investments, told Arab News that Saudi Arabia is a “priority because of how the country is committed to creating tourism as a public policy and as an economic sector.” 

She added that goals in the country’s Vision 2030 for “youth empowerment, women’s empowerment, sustainability, and tourism” are central to the UNWTO’s mission.

“We’d like to give visibility and promote Saudi Arabia as a country making a strong effort in the tourism sector,” she said.

The challenge is a perfect opportunity to identify Saudi-based entrepreneurs trying to solve challenges they face in the sector, Bayona added.

Entrants are judged in one or more categories, including local community involvement, environmental work, good use of technology, employee development and the empowerment of women in business.

Bayona said the UNWTO is pushing for enterprises to employ locally to help develop rural economies.

“Eighty percent of people living in extreme poverty live in rural areas. Tourism can be part of the way rural areas can be developed,” she said.

Bayona added that women’s empowerment is important “because they have the lowest salaries, the lowest-status jobs. Nonetheless, tourism is the sector that hires the most women worldwide.”

She said the basing of her agency’s regional office in Saudi Arabia shows how seriously it takes the country’s efforts to expand tourism.

The UNWTO’s partners include tourism bodies from more than 160 countries, 100 universities, more than 400 investors and around 500 corporations.

The Awake Tourism Challenge has helped winners raise more than $350 million and helped create more than 100 pilot projects. The deadline to enter this year’s initiative is Oct. 15.


Saudi authorities seize 765,000 amphetamine tablets hidden in watermelons

Saudi authorities seize 765,000 amphetamine tablets hidden in watermelons
Updated 28 September 2022

Saudi authorities seize 765,000 amphetamine tablets hidden in watermelons

Saudi authorities seize 765,000 amphetamine tablets hidden in watermelons

RIYADH: Saudi authorities have seized 765,000 amphetamine tablets hidden in a watermelon shipment in Riyadh.
Five people – two citizens and three Syrians – were arrested in the security operation and have been referred to relevant authorities for further action, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
Saudi Arabia has intensified its crackdown on drug smuggling networks.
Recently, authorities carried out a major security operation to thwart the smuggling of about 47 million amphetamine tablets, with a street value of up to $1 billion, in what was described as the Kingdom’s biggest drug bust ever.


Saudi Crown Prince receives written message from Sweden’s prime minister

Saudi Crown Prince receives written message from Sweden’s prime minister
Updated 28 September 2022

Saudi Crown Prince receives written message from Sweden’s prime minister

Saudi Crown Prince receives written message from Sweden’s prime minister
  • Walid bin Abdulkarim Al-Khuraiji, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, received the message from the Ambassador of Sweden to Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia, received a written message on Wednesday from Magdalena Andersson, Sweden’s Prime Minister.
In the letter, Andersson expressed her appreciation for the Crown Prince’s role in ‘mediating the exchange of prisoners in the Russian-Ukrainian crisis’, according to Saudi Arabia’s state news agency SPA.
She added that Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s efforts reflected ‘keenness to support all international efforts aimed at resolving the crisis politically and mitigating its impacts’.
Walid bin Abdulkarim Al-Khuraiji, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, received the message from the Ambassador of Sweden to Saudi Arabia, Petra Menander, who delivered it at the Ministry's headquarters.
The pair reviewed bilateral ties between the two nations during their meeting, and exchanged viewpoints regarding issues of common interest.


Saudi police bust four-member gang dealing in counterfeit money

Saudi police bust four-member gang dealing in counterfeit money
Updated 28 September 2022

Saudi police bust four-member gang dealing in counterfeit money

Saudi police bust four-member gang dealing in counterfeit money

RIYADH: Saudi police arrested four citizens for counterfeiting banknotes in Riyadh, Saudi Press Agency reported.
The suspects used houses located east of Riyadh as their headquarters to make fake money.

At the site, police found tools for counterfeiting money, counterfeit money and a stolen vehicle.
All items were sized and the vehicle was recovered.


Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince meets with Kingdom’s Minister of Defense

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince meets with Kingdom’s Minister of Defense
Updated 28 September 2022

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince meets with Kingdom’s Minister of Defense

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince meets with Kingdom’s Minister of Defense
  • Prince Mohammed bin Salman expressed his gratitude and appreciate for ministry of defense’s efforts
  • The event was attended by commanders from the ministry of defense and the armed forces

JEDDAH: Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia, met with the Kingdom’s Minister of Defense and commanders, Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz.
Prince Mohammed bin Salman expressed his gratitude and appreciate for ministry of defense’s efforts and the progress achieved in the development program.
The Crown Prince also commended the increase in internal self-sufficiency of military industries, which saw a 13-percent rise from two percent to 15 percent, hoping it reaches 50 percent under the supervision of the minister of defense and the military personnel.
Prince Khalid highlighted the ministry of defense’s achievements throughout the various development programs in addition to the achievements they wish to fulfill in the future.
The event was attended by commanders from the ministry of defense and the armed forces.