Diplomats praise Saudi Arabia’s ‘excellent’ Hajj arrangements

Diplomats praise Saudi Arabia’s ‘excellent’ Hajj arrangements
Pilgrims praying at the Grand Mosque in Makkah. One million pilgrims, local and global, are performing Hajj this year. (SPA)
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Updated 08 July 2022

Diplomats praise Saudi Arabia’s ‘excellent’ Hajj arrangements

Diplomats praise Saudi Arabia’s ‘excellent’ Hajj arrangements
  • Kingdom welcomes pilgrims from abroad for largest Hajj since COVID-19 pandemic began

RIYADH: Ambassadors and envoys from across the Muslim world have hailed Saudi Arabia’s hosting of Hajj this year.

Pilgrims from around the world have gathered in Makkah for the biggest Hajj pilgrimage since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic almost two years ago.

Hajj was restricted to just 1,000 people residing in Saudi Arabia in 2020, and 60,000 domestic pilgrims in 2021.

This year, after lifting most of its COVID-19 curbs, Saudi Arabia will welcome 1 million pilgrims, including 850,000 from abroad to perform Hajj — one of the five pillars of Islam, which all Muslims with the required means must perform once in a lifetime.

Foreign diplomats in Saudi Arabia have praised the Kingdom for its expansive Hajj arrangements this year.

Kazakhstan Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Berik Aryn told Arab News: “I would like to congratulate all Muslims on the beginning of Hajj season. We have been waiting for this moment for a long time due to the hiatus during the pandemic.

“From the arrival of the first group of pilgrims, the Saudi government has accomplished an outstanding achievement in providing all facilities in the holy cities for the Hajj. They paid special attention to ensuring the safety and security, and good health of the pilgrims, which is important at this time because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the envoy.

“On behalf of the Kazakhstan pilgrims, I want to express sincere gratitude to King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for excellent Hajj arrangements.”




Kazakhstan Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Berik Aryn.

Nigerian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Yahaya Lawal said: “All praise be to Allah for allowing us to witness the Hajj 2022 season, the first in the post-pandemic period. I also take this opportunity on behalf of Nigeria to convey our sincere gratitude to the Saudi government and King Salman for the internationally acclaimed decision to organize the Hajj this year, and allow foreign pilgrims to participate. We commend the Saudi authorities for all the preventive measures put in place to safeguard the health of the guests of Allah.

“Nigeria, which will be sending almost 50,000 pilgrims, is excited to make a return to this significant event — a journey of a lifetime,” he said.

“We pray for the success of this annual pilgrimage as we also look forward to a normal pre-pandemic Hajj season next year.”




Nigerian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Yahaya Lawal.

Dato’ Sri Syed Saleh Syed Abdulrahman, head of the Malaysian Hajj delegates in Makkah, told Arab News: “Malaysian pilgrims thank King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for allowing international pilgrims to perform the Hajj this year. We are extremely grateful to the Saudi government for choosing Malaysia once again to be one of the five countries selected for the Makkah Route program this year.

“Malaysia was the first country chosen for Makkah Route’s pilot project in 2017. The Makkah Route program has provided Malaysian pilgrims with excellent service as they are able to arrive in Madinah and Jeddah, easily and quickly. They are able to breeze through the arrival gates at the two airports after the long flight and not have to worry about their luggage either. All Malaysian pilgrims are very satisfied with the service.”

Saudi Arabia has also built and upgraded various infrastructure in Makkah, Madinah and Jeddah to enhance the experience of all pilgrims, including Malaysians, during the busy Hajj season, he added.

“We pray for Saudi Arabia’s success in achieving Vision 2030 so it continues to provide the best services to Muslims from all around the world who come to Makkah and Madinah for Umrah and Hajj,” said Abdulrahman.

Pakistani Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Ameer Khurram Rathore praised the leadership of the Kingdom for Hajj preparations. “This year to support and help the pilgrims from Pakistan ‘Route to Makkah’ initiative was very helpful for our Hujjaj coming from Islamabad. It is a manifestation of our brotherly and good relations with Saudi Arabia. Next year, Inshallah, the ‘Route to Makkah’ initiative will be initiated from three major Pakistani cities.”

He added: “The government of Pakistan has developed three digital apps, which will be greatly helpful for our Hujjaj during the pilgrimage.” 

Indian Consul General Mohammed Shahid Alam said: “All Indian pilgrims have arrived in Makkah to perform Hajj. This year, 56,637 pilgrims have come from the Hajj Commission of India, and 22,600 pilgrims through the Hajj group organizers. We have made elaborate arrangements in Makkah and Madinah for their comfortable stay, as well as hassle-free transportation to commute between their accommodation and the Haram. We have made available medical facilities and makeshift hospitals.”

Alam added: “We are deeply thankful to King Salman and the crown prince, as well as the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, for their excellent support to us in making all these arrangements. They have been available round the clock to make the efficient arrangements in time. We extend our sincere gratitude to them for the excellent arrangements they have made for (pilgrims’) safety, enabling them to perform the Hajj smoothly.”




Indian Consul General Mohammed Shahid Alam.

Bangladeshi Ambassador to the Kingdom Dr. Mohammad Javed Patwary said: “I express my deep satisfaction over the Hajj management and thank the king and the crown prince for their continuous support to the Muslim Ummah. Through the wider use of e-Hajj systems, expedited services are ensured. Bangladesh is the fourth largest Hajj pilgrim-sending country and our prospective pilgrims were eagerly waiting to perform Hajj after a two-year pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, the Saudi government is allowing 60,000 pilgrims from Bangladesh.

“All our pilgrims completed the immigration process back in Bangladesh under the Makkah Route Initiative. They are receiving their luggage at their hotels, which is a remarkable development for hassle-free movement of these guests of Allah.

“Bangladesh pilgrims who have arrived in Saudi Arabia — we have talked to many of them — have highly praised the Saudi authorities for their arrangements,” said the envoy.




Bangladeshi Ambassador to the Kingdom Dr. Mohammad Javed Patwary.

Head of the office of Thai pilgrims affairs, Zaki Takei, also praised the efforts and services provided by the Saudi government to pilgrims. He said that the Kingdom has “spared no effort” in aiding the visits of pilgrims.


Saudi crown prince washes Holy Kaaba on behalf of King Salman

Saudi crown prince washes Holy Kaaba on behalf of King Salman
Updated 8 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.

— More to follow.


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.