Through Makkah Route, Malaysian pilgrims experience ‘warmth’ of Saudi hospitality

Through Makkah Route, Malaysian pilgrims experience ‘warmth’ of Saudi hospitality
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Malaysian Hajj pilgrims go through pre-immigration procedures under the Makkah Route initiative at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, June 28, 2022. (AN Photo)
Through Makkah Route, Malaysian pilgrims experience ‘warmth’ of Saudi hospitality
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Malaysian Hajj pilgrims go through pre-immigration procedures under the Makkah Route initiative at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, June 28, 2022. (AN Photo)
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Updated 05 July 2022

Through Makkah Route, Malaysian pilgrims experience ‘warmth’ of Saudi hospitality

Through Makkah Route, Malaysian pilgrims experience ‘warmth’ of Saudi hospitality
  • Malaysia is one of 5 countries included in scheme
  • More than 14,300 pilgrims from the country will perform Hajj this year

KUALA LUMPUR: As Malaysian pilgrims arrive at Kuala Lumpur International Airport for the flight to Saudi Arabia, they are welcomed by Saudi officials who are helping tens of thousands of people depart for Hajj.
The welcome is a pre-departure glimpse into Saudi hospitality.
Malaysia is among five Muslim majority countries — including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Morocco — where Saudi Arabia opened its Makkah Route initiative.

The program, launched in 2019, is dedicated to Hajj pilgrims, allowing them to fulfill all visa, customs and health requirements at the airport of origin, saving long hours of waiting. Upon arrival, pilgrims can enter the Kingdom without waiting, having already gone through visa and customs processes back home.
Those departing from Kuala Lumpur airport are taken care of by dozens of Saudi immigration officials working round the clock to facilitate their journey.
“We are not even in Saudi yet, but I can already feel the warmth. This is very welcoming,” Ariff Abdullah, who departed on one of the last Hajj flights this week, told Arab News, as he and his wife were getting ready to board their Jeddah-bound flight.
“Today I was joking with the chap at the immigration counter,” Abdullah said. “He even knew a couple of Malay words!”
This year, 14,306 Malaysian pilgrims will take part in Hajj. The number is half the quota Malaysia received in 2019, the last Hajj season before the COVID-19 pandemic. But the total number of pilgrims who will arrive in the Kingdom this year has also been halved.
Hajj was restricted to just 1,000 people living in the Kingdom in 2020, and limited to only 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.
Makkah Route officials are helping to streamline their arrival.

 


“The initiative aims to facilitate the pilgrims’ immigration process at their country of origin, including fingerprinting and finalizing the entry (to Saudi Arabia), and delivery of luggage to their chosen accommodations in a very short time,” Sgt. Maj. Anas Muhammad, who arrived from Jeddah to assist Malaysian pilgrims, told Arab News.
His colleague, Sgt. Kholoud Al-Ahmadi, is “honored to be part of the Makkah Route initiative in Malaysia.”
She said: “I am very glad to be part of this initiative, especially since it’s my first time in Malaysia.”
Combined with other procedures under the Makkah Route, the immigration process from both the Malaysian and Saudi sides takes an average of 10 minutes per pilgrim.
To those who require more assistance, including people with disabilities, the scheme is a welcome relief.
“When we reach Jeddah, we are all cleared and there is no need to wait and queue for immigration there,” said Zainab Binti Awang, a wheelchair user accompanied by her sister.
When they reach the Kingdom, pilgrims are received at the airport and taken to their hotels in Makkah and Madinah. They can focus on their spiritual journeys, as all practical aspects of the pilgrimage are taken care of.
“The Makkah Route is very convenient,” said Johar Yusof, another pilgrim departing from Kuala Lumpur. “There’s no need to go through hassle — I love it.”


Saudi crown prince washes Holy Kaaba on behalf of King Salman

Saudi crown prince washes Holy Kaaba on behalf of King Salman
Updated 32 min 16 sec ago

Saudi crown prince washes Holy Kaaba on behalf of King Salman

Saudi crown prince washes Holy Kaaba on behalf of King Salman

RIYADH: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman washed the Holy Kaaba in Makkah’s Grand Mosque on behalf of King Salman, the Saudi Press Agency reported early Tuesday.

Prince Mohammed bin Salman performed Tawaf and prayed ahead of the washing ceremony.

(SPA)

He was accompanied by Saudi minister of sports, Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal. They were received by president of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Sudais.

Senior officials also participated in washing the Kaaba.


Saudi nutritionist uses his weight loss journey to inspire others

The weight-loss milestones of 24-year-old Salam Farid Azam has been a motivation for many wishing to achieve their weight goal.
The weight-loss milestones of 24-year-old Salam Farid Azam has been a motivation for many wishing to achieve their weight goal.
Updated 16 August 2022

Saudi nutritionist uses his weight loss journey to inspire others

The weight-loss milestones of 24-year-old Salam Farid Azam has been a motivation for many wishing to achieve their weight goal.
  • Durham University graduate talks up need for Saudi culture not to conflate its famed generosity with food

RIYADH: Unhealthy food and fitness habits are on the rise among Saudi youth, and maintaining a healthy weight has become a concern.

The weight-loss milestones of 24-year-old Salam Farid Azam has been a motivation for many wishing to achieve their weight goal.

Azam’s priority is maintaining a healthy lifestyle. He lost 25 kg through his balanced habits, which have been cultivated through his educational experience in human nutrition and behavioral science.

Now, he has a mission to help others bury their weakening cycles of poor habits.

FASTFACTS

• Salam Farid Azam’s priority is maintaining a healthy lifestyle. He lost 25 kg through his balanced habits, which have been cultivated through his educational experience in human nutrition and behavioral science.

• Now, he has a mission to help others bury their weakening cycles of poor habits.

Azam created his consultation platform, Sehha W Salam, two months ago.

“Sehha W Salam is a platform that’s trying to improve the overall health of people in society through personal consultations tailored to them,” Azam told Arab News.

“Consultants will try to enhance the behaviors and nutrition of people who come. They will try to understand the issues people are struggling with,” he said.

Qualified consultants create an in-depth case study of clients’ issues. Nutritional meal plans, exercises, and a combination of behavioral consultations are then applied, with prices dependent on how complex a case is.

“I am a registered associate nutritionist from the Association of Nutrition in the UK. I might recruit more qualified people with both qualifications in behavioral science and nutrition,” he said.

“The most convenient way of reaching me is through Instagram which is @sehhawsalam. Consultations will be held virtually over any video meeting platforms, or we can do it by visiting each other.”

Azam started his journey in the UK after high school. He was inspired to study nutrition because he was overweight during his adolescence.

“I thought of studying nutrition because I used to be overweight (at) around 13 years old. I was suffering from it. It affected me in terms of confidence in myself, my general well-being, I was shy, I was not socializing in general. I thought ‘I need to make a decision because I am not who I am’,” he said.

“I stayed at home all the time and played PlayStation and video games. I used to eat a lot, all the time, and I was unaware of my health. I used to play center back, the defending position in football, from primary school until I was 14. My colleagues and football team members (then) told me I need to play as a goalkeeper — I am not giving a bad impression of being a goalkeeper, but it’s usually given to people who don’t give a good impression of running. I was feeling rejected,” he explained.

Website surfing and Instagram accounts with nutritional information were the first source of awareness for Azam’s weight loss, before expanding his passion for nutrition at university.

“I chose Kingston University. I did my bachelor’s of science in human nutrition, and I was one of the top students in (the) university,” he said.

Azam complemented his bachelor’s with a master’s degree in behavioral sciences at Durham, one of the UK’s leading universities.

“We learned a lot about behavioral aspects of psychology. Choice architecture is a concept that looks at whether items are on an eye-level,” he said. “Changing the position of these unhealthy food products affects people’s choices. They crave these foods when they see it.”

Losing weight was difficult at first for Azam, especially without surgical intervention. His focus on food quality, avoiding fast food, and exercising gave a positive turn in all aspects surrounding his life.

“After I lost weight, I couldn’t describe how comfortable I felt. I started socializing, anticipating. I became very confident in myself. I started joining societies, leading them, going into positions of trust, and all of that. Nutrition can help people achieve their best,” said Azam.

Generosity is a key component of Saudi culture, and Azam believes that generosity and showing appreciation should not always be correlated with food — gratitude can be expressed in many ways. Food for him is not always for pleasure, but instead, mostly for survival.

“Saudi society is generous and we conflate it with food. I see people providing a generous quantity of food to guests, and they are treating it as generosity, which isn’t always healthy,” he said.

“Today’s doll-like body standards can be dangerous,” he added.

Azam said he places an importance in a Hadith that translates as: “No man fills a container worse than his stomach. A few morsels that keep his back upright are sufficient for him. If he has to, then he should keep one-third for food, one-third for water and one-third for breathing.”

He greatly appreciates the Kingdom’s efforts in looking out for the health of people in Saudi Arabia.

“I am really glad I am helping my country. Saudi Arabia is doing a really great job at the moment, especially in the health field. I am very proud to be Saudi, and I also look forward to improving my community and taking pride in doing so,” he said.

 


Saudi justice minister issues 2,317 law practice licenses

Minister of Justice Walid Al-Samaani. (SPA)
Minister of Justice Walid Al-Samaani. (SPA)
Updated 15 August 2022

Saudi justice minister issues 2,317 law practice licenses

Minister of Justice Walid Al-Samaani. (SPA)
  • Services for lawyers offered through the Najiz portal include applying for a law practice license and renewal of licenses

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Justice Walid Al-Samaani has issued 2,317 and renewed 1,082 law practice licenses in the past 12 months.

The ministry has said that it is focusing its efforts on vocational training as an essential part of the justice system, providing professional advice to safeguard people’s interests.

Inquiries about licensed lawyers can be made through a list of lawyers classified by name and city, as well as queries about the status of filed applications and other services, the ministry said.

Services for lawyers offered through the Najiz portal include applying for a law practice license and renewal of licenses.

A trainee lawyers’ service allows applicants to register and receive a “trainee lawyer identification certificate” electronically.

The portal also has a transfer service for lawyers and can issue new electronic “trainee lawyer identification certificates.”

 


Who’s Who: Abdulaziz Saja, general manager of Tabby Saudi Arabia

Abdulaziz Saja
Abdulaziz Saja
Updated 15 August 2022

Who’s Who: Abdulaziz Saja, general manager of Tabby Saudi Arabia

Abdulaziz Saja

Abdulaziz Saja is the general manager of Tabby Saudi Arabia, one of the leading buy now, pay later financial technology companies in Saudi Arabia.

Tabby is a platform that offers financial freedom to its users with BNPL options for over 4,000 brands operating in the Kingdom, the UAE and Kuwait.

Saja is in charge of Tabby’s operations, including hiring, business development, compliance, legal and growth activities in the Kingdom.

Born and raised in Riyadh, he studied finance with a minor degree in economics at the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals.

He started his career in commercial banking, working in multiple banks for around five years.

He then decided to pursue a master’s degree in business administration with the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, later switching careers to management consulting.

After working as an associate with McKinsey & Co. for two years, Hosam Arab, co-founder and CEO of Tabby, approached Saja to join his team as general manager in 2019.

In February 2020, Tabby launched its commercial operations in the UAE. A launch in the Kingdom followed soon after in July 2020, along with approval to join the Saudi Central Bank’s Sandbox environment, bringing BNPL officially to the Kingdom in October 2020.

Saja continues to lead Tabby’s efforts in the Kingdom with plans to roll out new and exciting products in the future.

 


Saudi minister receives Thai charge d’affaires in Riyadh

Saudi minister Fahad Abualnasr receives charge d’affaires of the Thai Embassy in Riyadh. (Supplied)
Saudi minister Fahad Abualnasr receives charge d’affaires of the Thai Embassy in Riyadh. (Supplied)
Updated 15 August 2022

Saudi minister receives Thai charge d’affaires in Riyadh

Saudi minister Fahad Abualnasr receives charge d’affaires of the Thai Embassy in Riyadh. (Supplied)
  • They reviewed diplomatic relations between the two countries and the latest developments of common concern

RIYADH: Saudi Deputy Minister for Public Diplomacy Fahad Abualnasr received the charge d’affaires of the Thai Embassy in the Kingdom, Sathana Kashemsanta Na Ayudhya, in Riyadh on Monday.

The pair reviewed relations between their countries and discussed topics of common interest.

Abualnasr also met Francisco Chacón Hernández, Costa Rica’s non-resident ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

They reviewed diplomatic relations between the two countries and the latest developments of common concern.

In June, Abualnasr met Bahrain’s Ambassador to the Kingdom Shaikh Ali Abdulrahman bin Ali Al-Khalifa in Riyadh. They reviewed diplomatic relations and discussed topics of common interest.