Umrah pilgrims offered high-speed train service between Makkah and Madinah

Umrah pilgrims offered high-speed train service between Makkah and Madinah
The Haramain Express travels at a top speed of over 300 kph. (Arab News file photo)
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Updated 16 September 2022

Umrah pilgrims offered high-speed train service between Makkah and Madinah

Umrah pilgrims offered high-speed train service between Makkah and Madinah
  • Haramain Express travels between Makkah and Madinah at speeds of over 300 kph

RIYADH: A high-speed train service makes it possible for pilgrims to travel between the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah in just two hours and 20 minutes.

The Haramain Express, which travels at a top speed of over 300 kph, is part of the Kingdom’s integrated transport network.

The train can accommodate over 400 business and economy class passengers, with tickets priced between SR40 and SR150 ($10.60-$40). The service also stops at Jeddah and King Abdullah Economic City.

People from all over the world are permitted to perform Umrah during their stay in the Kingdom thanks to the visa scheme provided by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah.

Offering a trouble-free cultural and religious experience for Umrah pilgrims is in line with the objectives of Saudi Vision 2030.

Pilgrims wishing to visit Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah are advised to use the Maqam platform — maqam.gds.haj.gov.sa/ — where they can make all of the necessary travel arrangements and select from a package of services.

Family and personal visit visa holders can perform Umrah easily by booking an appointment through the Umrah app.

Umrah pilgrims are required to have comprehensive health insurance, including cover for the cost of treatment for COVID-19.

 

 

 


Space may be ‘home’ sooner than we think, Riyadh forum told

Space may be ‘home’ sooner than we think, Riyadh forum told
Updated 02 December 2022

Space may be ‘home’ sooner than we think, Riyadh forum told

Space may be ‘home’ sooner than we think, Riyadh forum told
  • With participation from over 19 countries, the global platform targets a wide audience from various academic and professional backgrounds
  • This year’s conference is building off the success of last year’s event, which discussed unpredictability

RIYADH: The second edition of the Riyadh Philosophy Conference launched on Thursday as international and local specialists gathered to discuss topics under the theme “Knowledge and Exploration: Space, Time and Humanity.”
Organized by Saudi Arabia’s Literature, Publishing and Translation Commission, the three-day event kicked off with welcome remarks by Saudi critic, thinker and translator Saad bin Abdulrahman Albazie, who was introduced by the CEO of the commission, Mohammed Alwan.
With participation from over 19 countries, the global platform targets a wide audience from various academic and professional backgrounds.
“We are heading toward endless informational and explorational horizons, toward space, time and humanity, and settling into our human fate, moral values and scientific criteria of the universe,” Albazie said.
“We will create a philosophical space out of our physical space, and propose new concepts in an undiscovered field in the spirit of entrepreneurial research that has been touched upon by this conference’s esteemed guests.”
While taking a trip to space is, undoubtedly, a dream for many, it may well be a place we call “home” much sooner than we think.
A keynote speech by Mishaal Ashemimry, moderated by Prof. Nicolas de Warren of Penn State University, examined the futuristic concept of humanity becoming an interplanetary species.
Discussing humanity’s options if Earth is no longer accommodating or habitable, Ashemimry, special adviser to the CEO at the Saudi Space Commission, said: “We must prepare for our future because no one knows. Yes, we can monitor all these items that are orbiting Earth, but there are so many that we don’t know about.
“I’m not suggesting that this is the only way. I am suggesting that we need to hedge our bets, invest in all the technologies necessary and all the possible solutions to prevent this existential problem — whether it’s going to Mars or preparing to go to Mars, or whether it’s intercepting that asteroid, and having mechanisms to detect it sooner and enable us to have enough time.”
The conversation around space continued with Abdullah Al-Ghathami, professor of criticism and theory at King Saud University, delivering a keynote speech under the title “Humanity in Space: Glory or Power.”
Leading thinkers took part in panel discussions, including “Inquiry Techniques in the Classroom” by General Manager of the Baseera Institute Dalia Toonsi, and “Chaos and Logos” with physicist Reem Taibah and Saudi Space Commission adviser Haithem Al-Twaijry.
This year’s conference is building off the success of last year’s event, which discussed unpredictability.
The forum aims to open up the once-taboo study of philosophy in the region by involving contemporary philosophers, scientists, writers and intellectuals from all over the world.
Discussions in the coming days will focus on the status of contemporary science, the complexities of space diplomacy and climate change, justice and ethics in exploration, and the dilemmas of artificial intelligence.
 


Saudi authorities seize millions of Captagon pills at Jeddah, Empty Quarter ports

Saudi authorities seize millions of Captagon pills at Jeddah, Empty Quarter ports
Updated 02 December 2022

Saudi authorities seize millions of Captagon pills at Jeddah, Empty Quarter ports

Saudi authorities seize millions of Captagon pills at Jeddah, Empty Quarter ports
  • The pills had combined street value of between $24 million and $60 million

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority foiled two attempts to smuggle more than 2.4 million Captagon pills into the Kingdom.

The pills were found hidden in consignments received at Jeddah Islamic Port and the Empty Quarter Port.

Authorities at the Empty Quarter Port seized 1,213,378 Captagon pills.

In the second attempt at Jeddah Islamic Port, authorities seized 1,215,353 pills hidden in a cement shipment.

The pills had a combined street value of between $24 million and $60 million based on figures published in the International Addiction Review journal.

The authority said that after confiscating the drugs, coordination with the General Directorate of Narcotics Control led to the swift arrest of six drug smugglers.

It stressed that it is continuing to tighten customs controls around the Kingdom’s imports and exports, and is conducting round-the-clock operations to prevent drug smuggling in order to continue to enhance the security of the community — and the Kingdom — by reducing the entry of contraband into Saudi Arabia.

Earlier this week, Saudi authorities in Riyadh thwarted a separate attempt to smuggle millions of amphetamine tablets.

General Directorate of Narcotics Control Spokesman Maj. Mohammed Al-Nujaidi said that during a security follow-up operation targeting drug smuggling and distribution networks, officials seized 2,035,200 amphetamine pills hidden inside a shipment of kitchen wood planks.

Four people found in possession of drugs were arrested in Riyadh and were referred to the Public Prosecution.

The authority called on members of the public with any information about past, current or future smuggling attempts to come forward. The number allocated for reporting drug-related offenses is 1910 locally or 00966114208417 internationally.

Members of the public can also report suspicious activities by visiting zatca.gov.sa.

A cash reward will be handed out to anyone who alerts authorities to proven smuggling attempts.


Thousands of visitors attend opening day of SOUNDSTORM 2022 

Thousands of visitors attend opening day of SOUNDSTORM 2022 
Updated 02 December 2022

Thousands of visitors attend opening day of SOUNDSTORM 2022 

Thousands of visitors attend opening day of SOUNDSTORM 2022 

RIYADH: Music fans flocked in their thousands to Banban, Riyadh, for the Middle East’s biggest music festival on Thursday.

MDLBEAST SOUNDSTORM 2022 is expected to welcome more than 100,000 people over its three days, Dec. 1-3 - with acts running on the first day from 4 p.m. to 3:30 a.m..

More than 260 hours of live music are promised in Banban, and SOUNDSTORM this year brings a variety of music genres, including electronic dance music, hip hop, R&B, and indie music.

Some 200 artists will appear on seven stages at the event: Big Beast, Down Beast, Dance Beast, and four underground stages.

Day one featured local, regional and international artists from various genres, each giving exhilarating and electrifying performances as the loudest festival began with five musicians performing every hour.

Saudi female DJ Cosmicat, Brazilian DJ Shark, DJ Snake, Hardwell, Acraze, and locals Voidkid, Gehlen and Dish Dash started the journey for fans and, as the night grew louder, famous names Tiesto and Zedd took center stage to wow the audience.

American rapper Post Malone appeared on the Big Beast stage and performed some of his most famous songs.

British singer Michael Kiwanuka also featured, and provided a highlight while singing “Cold Little Heart.”

Abdulmohsen bin Hamid, 24, told Arab News: “I can’t believe that after years of listening to his music, I finally got to watch Post Malone perform for the first time in my beloved Kingdom.

“I remember his first song, ‘White Iverson,’ being my favorite.”

Bin Hamid, who was a VIP pass holder to the event, said that he found the organization and visitor experience to have been significantly improved.

SOUNDSTORM 2022 boasts more than 100 food and beverage vendors as it bids to enhance the festival experience for those attending.

Lovers of Arabic music also got the chance to hear their favorites on the first day, with Myriam Faris, Majid Al-Muhandis, Modi Al-Shamrani, and rapper Moayad Al-Nefaie all performing.

SOUNDSTORM has enjoyed a meteoric rise following its debut in 2019 and is now a fixture in the music calendar for fans and local and international stars.


KSRelief in Riyadh joins UN in humanitarian overview

KSRelief in Riyadh joins UN in humanitarian overview
Updated 02 December 2022

KSRelief in Riyadh joins UN in humanitarian overview

KSRelief in Riyadh joins UN in humanitarian overview
  • Kingdom has contributed more than $95bn over 20 years to support humanitarian and development projects in 164 countries

RIYADH: The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs launched the Global Humanitarian Overview 2023 in Geneva on Thursday, with presentations in Addis Ababa with the African Union, and in Riyadh at King Saud University with the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center.

Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, supervisor general of KSRelief, said the event was focused on global humanitarian action taking place next year.

It was highlighting the need to promote inclusive and holistic approaches to providing humanitarian assistance, while discussing ways to enhance the participation of crisis-affected people, local responders, and nongovernmental organization partners in global action.

He explained the challenges surrounding food supply, particularly the obstruction of aid in crisis areas.

Al-Rabeeah said: “Saudi Arabia has provided over the past two decades $95 billion to support humanitarian and development projects in 164 countries.

“We must encourage all countries able to do so, to step up their own funding levels urgently to help alleviate the catastrophic levels of suffering we are seeing today in so many parts of the world.”

He thanked King Saud University for hosting the GHO 2023 launch for the first time in the Middle East.

He added: “May we succeed in finding the solutions that are needed to save lives, and improve the outcome for the millions of people who so desperately need our help.

“By working together we can address the pressing issues facing the world today on a scale large enough to change the tide of suffering into the waves of hope.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, in his video message, said 2022 had been a year of many challenges, and the Ukraine conflict had exacerbated the global food and energy crisis.

Lives and economies had been torn apart around the world, he said, adding that the UN and its partners in the field of medicine had risen to the challenge to help support and protect 157 million people around the world.

Guterres added that the UN had provided more than $2 billion in cash assistance, while donations had provided nearly $24 billion.

The GHO 2023 calls for $51.5 billion to provide lifesaving support to the most vulnerable people, he said.

Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Waleed Al-Khuraiji said the Kingdom was attempting to strengthen international cooperation to help eradicate poverty and deliver aid to those in need.

He added that the country has managed to lead at regional and international level, and helped to unify international efforts to meet humanitarian needs by providing aid that supports relief work.

Joyce Msuya, assistant secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and deputy emergency relief coordinator at the OCHA, said that the world is living in the middle of the largest global food crisis in history, and added it is an issue driven by conflict, climatic shocks, and the looming threat of a global recession.


Saudi Shoura Council speaker meets with Thai Senate speaker

Saudi Shoura Council speaker meets with Thai Senate speaker
Updated 02 December 2022

Saudi Shoura Council speaker meets with Thai Senate speaker

Saudi Shoura Council speaker meets with Thai Senate speaker

Saudi Shoura Council Speaker Dr. Abdullah bin Mohammed Al-Asheikh held official talks with the Thai Senate Speaker Prof. Pornpetch Whichitcholchai, who is currently on an official visit to Saudi Arabia at the invitation of Al-Asheikh, at the Shoura Council’s Riyadh headquarters on Thursday.

Al-Asheikh commenced the meeting by welcoming Whichitcholchai and his accompanying delegation, stressing the importance of “boosting and developing the Saudi-Thai bilateral relations in various fields, while also promoting joint parliamentary cooperation, as this would serve the common interests of both nations.”

He also highlighted the importance of “exchanging visits between the two friendly countries, especially at the parliamentary level, as this would play an active role in the exchange of expertise and ideas related to the vital fields and contribute to creating new cooperation opportunities.”