Saudi Arabia expands Umrah with visa allowance

A mask-clad traveller arriving to Saudi Arabia to perform the year-round Umrah pilgrimage, is welcomed at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah. (AFP)
A mask-clad traveller arriving to Saudi Arabia to perform the year-round Umrah pilgrimage, is welcomed at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah. (AFP)
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Updated 13 August 2022

Saudi Arabia expands Umrah with visa allowance

Saudi Arabia expands Umrah with visa allowance
  • The Visit Saudi platform provides e-services, including the issuance of electronic visas and purchasing of Umrah bundles. The service is available at visitsaudi.com/ar.
  • Move targets Vision 2030 goal of 30m pilgrims per year

JEDDAH: All Saudi visa holders are now permitted to perform Umrah in the wake of a decision by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah.

The move aims to ease bureaucracy and open the pilgrimage to more visitors — a target of Vision 2030.

It comes in conjunction with the start of this year’s Umrah season and as part of efforts to facilitate rituals, provide high-quality services and enrich the religious experiences of pilgrims.

The Maqam platform connects pilgrims with authorized tourism companies and agencies. Users from outside the Kingdom can also apply for an Umrah visa, as well as choose service bundles. The platform is available at maqam.gds.haj.gov.sa.

The Visit Saudi platform provides e-services, including the issuance of electronic visas and purchasing of Umrah bundles. The service is available at visitsaudi.com/ar.

Holders of on-arrival visas, among countries eligible for electronic visas, as well as US, UK and Schengen visa holders, can carry out Umrah rituals with ease, provided that the visas are used for one time only and carry the issuing country’s seal.

Family visit and personal visit visa holders can also perform the pilgrimage by booking an appointment through the Eatmarna application during their visits to relatives and friends in the Kingdom, and by applying to the Unified National Visa Platform.

To carry out Umrah rituals, visitors must have comprehensive medical insurance that covers — among other things — the treatment costs of COVID-19, personal incidents resulting in death and disability, and flight delays or cancellations.


International publishers exhibit works for first time at Riyadh book fair

International publishers exhibit works for first time at Riyadh book fair
Updated 15 min 57 sec ago

International publishers exhibit works for first time at Riyadh book fair

International publishers exhibit works for first time at Riyadh book fair
  • One of the exhibitors at the book fair was China Intercontinental Press, a publishing house founded in 1993 by the Chinese government to promote the country’s culture and history abroad

RIYADH: The Riyadh International Book Fair 2022 has expanded to welcome many more international publishing houses and distributors to exhibit their works for the first time in the city, including publishers from the UK and China.

One of the exhibitors at the book fair was China Intercontinental Press, a publishing house founded in 1993 by the Chinese government to promote the country’s culture and history abroad.

“This is our first time in Riyadh, and what was interesting is that we found many people here who could speak Chinese very well,” Guo Xi, exhibit marketing manager, told Arab News.

During the publishing house’s first few days at the book fair, many people would approach their exhibit speaking Chinese, and they were pleasantly surprised by how often it happened. 

The 2022 Riyadh International Book Fair is expanding to welcome many more International publishing houses and distributors to exhibit their works for the first time in Riyadh, including publishers from the United Kingdom and China. (AN photo)

China Intercontinental Press displayed a variety of publications, including genres suitable for both adults and children.

“We have Chinese fiction books, as well as children’s books about Chinese culture and books on politics. They have all been translated into both Arabic and English,” Guo said.

What on Earth Publishing was another publishing house to feature at the book fair. The British company specializes in educational children’s books that present information creatively to help children better understand the material and develop a passion for books.

“This experience has been amazing. Honestly, I love the book fair, and I love the vibes here. Everyone is so helpful. I’m grateful for it,” Juman Salama, What on Earth assistant publishing director, told Arab News. 

The 2022 Riyadh International Book Fair is expanding to welcome many more International publishing houses and distributors to exhibit their works for the first time in Riyadh, including publishers from the United Kingdom and China. (AN photo)

The publishing house was founded this year, with the initial release of books in May 2022.

“We specialize in non-fiction scientific books aimed at children that discuss the history of engineering and science. We also have books about the Earth and global warming, teaching children how they can take better care of the planet in the near future,” Salama said.

“We try to give this information to children in creative ways so they can actually read and enjoy the books rather than just receive facts or information in a boring way. We are creative about it,” she said.

Britannia Books is another British distribution house that can be found at this year’s book fair in Riyadh. Based in London, the idea behind Britannia Books was conceived one year ago and was brought to life in August. 

The 2022 Riyadh International Book Fair is expanding to welcome many more International publishing houses and distributors to exhibit their works for the first time in Riyadh, including publishers from the United Kingdom and China. (AN photo)

“Britannia Books was established by three young men from Lebanon in the hopes of distributing English books from the UK to all the Arab world,” Hicham Karan, sales manager at Britannia Books, said.

“We wanted to bring English books for adults and children to our Arab world. We don’t have any specific genre; we are trying to fill all markets,” he said.

Karan has personally participated at the book fair in Riyadh with other publishing houses in the past, but this year marks the debut of his own distribution house.

“For me, the book fair in Riyadh was the pioneer and leader of all Arab book fairs. I have participated in six or seven countries’ book fairs around the world, and Riyadh’s was No. 1.”

Aside from book displays, the fair is also hosting cooking shows, cultural exhibitions and guest lectures throughout the 10-day event, featuring local and international pavilions.

In this year’s edition, Tunisia participated as the guest of honor, with 16 Tunisian publishing houses present. The Tunisian pavilion also highlighted the culture and history of the country through displays, workshops and cultural dialogues open to the public.

The Riyadh International Book Fair will continue until Oct. 8 at the Riyadh Front and is open from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m.


Saudi Arabia sends 4,000 tons of flood relief to Pakistan via land, air routes

Saudi Arabia sends 4,000 tons of flood relief to Pakistan via land, air routes
Updated 18 sec ago

Saudi Arabia sends 4,000 tons of flood relief to Pakistan via land, air routes

Saudi Arabia sends 4,000 tons of flood relief to Pakistan via land, air routes
  • Almost 800,000 people receive Saudi aid in 51 flood-affected areas of the country
  • KSrelief to carry out damage assessment, help in rebuilding with Saudi Fund for Development

ISLAMABAD: Saudi Arabia has sent 4,000 tons of food relief to Pakistan, with the aid provided by the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center helping almost 800,000 people worst affected by the disaster.

The floods, caused by abnormal monsoon rains and glacial melt, have submerged vast swathes of the South Asian country since mid-June and killed almost 1,700 people, most of them women and children.

Hundreds of thousands of displaced people are living in the open, exposed to malaria, diarrhea, dengue fever, and severe skin and eye infections, with stagnant floodwaters, which officials say will take months to recede, increasing disease transmission.

“A total of 4,385 tons of different kinds of relief goods through land route and air bridges have been distributed so far, which benefited more than 785,636 people all across Pakistan,” Dr. Khalid Muhammad Al-Othmani, KSrelief Pakistan director, told reporters in Islamabad on Tuesday.

He said the agency had also distributed 15,000 packages containing more than 1,425 tons of essential food items in the southwestern province of Balochistan, one of the worst hit by floods.

Ten Saudi flights loaded with various relief goods delivered the aid, with packages handed over to the National Disaster Management Authority. Relief goods have also been sent via a land bridge established by KSrelief.

“So far, a total of 65,000 food packages, 50,000 mosquito nets, 5,000 relief tents, and 25,000 NFI (non-food items) kits have been distributed in 51 affected areas all over Pakistan,” Saudi Ambassador Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki said.

He added that a field survey will be conducted in coordination with other government organizations to assess damage due to the floods, which swept away and destroyed houses, schools, health centers, water projects, bridges and roads.

“After the data is collected, the scope of the works will be studied, and the facilities will be rehabilitated by KSrelief together with the Saudi Fund for Development,” Al-Malki said.

NDMA Chairman Lt. Gen. Akhtar Nawaz thanked the Kingdom’s leadership for the timely assistance.

“Saudi Arabia has always supported Pakistan in difficult times, be it the earthquake of 2005, the super flood of 2010, and these unprecedented monsoon-triggered floods now,” he said.

“On behalf of the government of Pakistan and NDMA, I assure you that whatever support is coming, without delay it will be delivered to the affected people in the most proficient manner.”

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Saudi foreign minister meets with Serbian counterpart

Saudi foreign minister meets with Serbian counterpart
Updated 05 October 2022

Saudi foreign minister meets with Serbian counterpart

Saudi foreign minister meets with Serbian counterpart
  • FM praised the 88% increase in trade between the Kingdom and Serbia in 2021 over 2020

RIYADH: Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud and his Serbian counterpart Nikola Selaković held a press conference at the Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Belgrade, the Saudi Press Agency reported. 

During an official visit to Serbia, Prince Faisal expressed Saudi Arabia’s appreciation for Serbia supporting the Kingdom’s bid to host Expo 2030, 

Prince Faisal said his meeting with Selaković demonstrates Saudi Arabia’s keenness to deepen relations with Serbia. 

He also emphasized the Kingdom’s support for all efforts to resolve the Russian-Ukrainian conflict in a way that promotes international peace and security while mitigating its economic consequences. 

The Saudi foreign minister praised the 88 percent increase in trade between the Kingdom and Serbia in 2021. 

Selaković praised the historic visit, the first official visit by a Saudi minister of foreign affairs since the two countries’ relations began about 10 years ago. 

He stated that Serbia hopes to strengthen its relationship with Saudi Arabia, especially given the remarkable progress the Kingdom has made as a result of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s development plans.


Germans celebrate Unity Day, praise Kingdom’s world peace efforts

Germans celebrate Unity Day, praise Kingdom’s world peace efforts
Updated 05 October 2022

Germans celebrate Unity Day, praise Kingdom’s world peace efforts

Germans celebrate Unity Day, praise Kingdom’s world peace efforts
  • Officials seek closer economic ties with ‘transforming’ Saudi Arabia
  • Oct. 3, 1990, was ‘one of the happiest days in nation’s history’

RIYADH: The German Embassy in Riyadh celebrated the country’s Unity Day on Wednesday with much fanfare, with officials praising Saudi Arabia for its worldwide peace and reconciliation efforts.

Among those present were German Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Dieter Lamlé and German Ambassador to Yemen Hubert Josef Jäger.

Lamlé said Oct. 3, 1990, was one of the happiest days in the nation’s history.

“I believe that there are two lessons that can be learned from the German unification for the future. First, never stop believing in the impossible in these times of global turmoil, and economic and personal hardship; the optimistic outlook is important, more than ever.”

He said Germany had the support of its allies during its unification. “Let me mention in particular President George Bush, and Mikhail Gorbachev, who died a few weeks ago. Their efforts and support to overcome the division of Germany stand as a testimony to what diplomacy, mutual trust, and international collaboration can achieve.”

“I seize this opportunity to thank the UN special envoy for Yemen and the government of Saudi Arabia for their tireless and serious effort to find a solution to the Yemen conflict,” he added.

Among those who attended was Quentin Dominique Blommaert, head of the Hydrogen Diplomacy Office in Riyadh. “His office only started at the beginning of this year, and through his office, we connect German and Saudi professionals to enhance bilateral dialogue on geopolitical aspects,” said the Lamlé.

Germany’s government is seeking to collaborate with Saudi Arabia to produce hydrogen, and has chosen Riyadh, among five cities in the world, to establish its hydrogen diplomacy offices.

On behalf of Prince Faisal bin Bandar, governor of Riyadh, Prince Faisal bin Abdulaziz bin Ayyaf, mayor of the region, attended the ceremony.

Lamlé lauded Saudi Arabia for the economic transformation taking place in the country.

“I am not (the) only … witness of the tremendous and very fast changes that Saudi Arabia is experiencing but my wife (too). And we were so lucky to receive your overwhelming hospitality in the last 14 months, that we hardly find anywhere (else) in the world. Thank you for your support, your trust, your experience, and your amicability, your support makes us feel at home in Saudi Arabia,” said the envoy.

Lamlé said he was looking forward to improving relations between the two countries. He said the visit of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Sept. 24, opened a new chapter in German-Saudi relations.


KSRelief provides food baskets, educational courses in 5 different countries

KSRelief provides food baskets, educational courses in 5 different countries
Updated 05 October 2022

KSRelief provides food baskets, educational courses in 5 different countries

KSRelief provides food baskets, educational courses in 5 different countries
  • More than 20,537 people benefited from the 2,939 food baskets and 216 tents distributed by KSRelief in Pakistan

DUBAI: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) has continued its humanitarian efforts in Pakistan by providing aid to people affected by the recent floods that hit the country.
More than 20,537 people benefited from the 2,939 food baskets and 216 tents distributed by KSRelief in the country on Tuesday, reported Saudi Arabia’s state agency SPA.
Similarly, 3,000 food baskets were handed out to Rohingya refugees in Balukhali camp in Bangladesh’s Cox Bazar, benefiting 15,000 people in total.
In Lebanon, KSRelief also distributed 500 food baskets which benefited 2,500 Syrian refugees.
The efforts came as the relief center also signed a joint agreement with the World Food Programme (WFP) to meet the nutritional needs of Syrian refugees in Jordan.
By completing the second phase of the initiative, KSRelief’s program managed to benefit 53,110 refugees in Jordan at a cost of $6 million.
The agreement was co-signed by Ahmed bin Ali Al-Baiz, Assistant General Supervisor of the KSRelief for Operations and Programs, and Karin Manente, the Director of Public Partnerships and Resourcing at the WFP.

Meanwhile, KSRelief delivered 10 training courses to teachers in literacy centers in Yemen’s Aden, Abyan and Hadhramaut.
These courses come as part of the International Literacy Day celebrated within KSRelief’s project, which also trains teachers on how to educate students and people with disabilities.
The humanitarian and relief center also concluded an entrepreneurship course in Yemen’s Al-Mahra Governorate, to support and empower youth in the area.
All initiatives carried out in various countries around the world fall within Saudi Arabia’s humanitarian and relief projects, implemented by KSRelief, to enhance the economic situation and improve the income of people in-need.