New areas for Saudi-Finnish business collaboration unlocked, says Business Finland adviser

New areas for Saudi-Finnish business collaboration unlocked, says Business Finland adviser
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Business Finland senior advisers Nabil Mohamed and Mudar Al-Ani highlighted their mission to expand Finish businesses in Saudi Arabia. (AN photo by Abulaziz Alaraf)
New areas for Saudi-Finnish business collaboration unlocked, says Business Finland adviser
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Business Finland senior advisers Nabil Mohamed and Mudar Al-Ani highlighted their mission to expand Finish businesses in Saudi Arabia. (AN photo by Abulaziz Alaraf)
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Updated 09 August 2023
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New areas for Saudi-Finnish business collaboration unlocked, says Business Finland adviser

New areas for Saudi-Finnish business collaboration unlocked, says Business Finland adviser

RIYADH: Business Finland says Saudi Vision 2030 has unlocked new areas for potential collaboration between Finland and the Kingdom, with the government agency aiming to expand Saudi-Finish business cooperations further. 

“With Vision 2030 now and this massive transformation which is happening in the country we believe this unlocked new areas of potential collaboration between the two countries and Finland can be an excellent partner to the Kingdom to achieve the Vision 2030 goals and objectives,” Nabil Mohamed, Business Finland senior adviser, said during an interview with Arab News. 

Mohamed and fellow senior adviser of Business Finland Mudar Al-Ani highlighted their mission to expand Finish businesses in Saudi Arabia across sectors such as digital transformation.  

“We are looking to see more Finish companies present here (Saudi Arabia) in the market and also more Saudi companies present in Finland as well,” Mohamed said. 

“We have strong ties from a long time ago with Saudi Arabia, we started maybe late (in the) 1960s. Our large companies have been present in the market from a long time ago, an obvious example is Nokia,” he added.

In the last two years, despite COVID-19 limitations, business collaboration between Saudi Arabia and Finland has witnessed new growth. 

“I think 2022 and 2023 were a very special time in strengthening the special ties that we have between the two countries, and the effort has been paved hand-in-hand with our embassy, of course, and with our counterparts from the Saudi side as well,” Mohamed explained. 

In November 2022, Saudi Arabia and Finland agreed to form a bilateral organization to boost the SR1.9 billion ($510 million) trading relationship between the two countries. 

A memorandum of understanding was signed between the Federation of Saudi Chambers and the Finnish Chamber of Commerce in Helsinki to establish a joint Saudi-Finnish Business Council. 

At the same time, the Federation of Saudi Chambers signed an MoU with Business Finland around financing and promoting trade and investment between the two countries.

The MoU mainly focused on technology, digitalization, energy, circular economy, mining, transport and logistics services, healthcare, and water. 

“If we look to Business Finland’s main goals I would say is to help Finish companies grow globally that means really facilitating the right environment, giving them the right advice to enter the Saudi market also to connect them to the right market opportunities,’ Al-Ani said, adding that Business Finland works with companies to help them “find solutions for the future, working with them on R&D (research and development) phases and with their counterparts in Saudi Arabia.”

Al-Ani added that they aim to thrive in the “Public-Private Sector Partnership between Saudi Arabia and Finland.”

He explained that there are currently many large companies that have been strongly present in the Kingdom for years as well as smaller firms active in the market.

“Finland has also been the global leader in some other sectors like (the) mining industry, logistics — circular economy, of course, is a very important area to collaborate (in) and capacity building, which includes education, training,” Mohamed said. 

“In the Kingdom, there are many new areas of potential collaboration between the two countries of course digital transformation is the main pillar across all different sectors,” he added. 

Looking forward into the future, Al-Ani expressed that in the next five years, Business Finland hopes to see more knowledge transfer and capacity building between the two countries. 


Saudi crown prince, Canadian prime minister discuss relations during call

Saudi crown prince, Canadian prime minister discuss relations during call
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Saudi crown prince, Canadian prime minister discuss relations during call

Saudi crown prince, Canadian prime minister discuss relations during call

JEDDAH: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau spoke on the phone on Tuesday, Saudi Press Agency reported.

During the call, the development of relations between the two countries and ways to enhance them in various fields were reviewed.

A number of regional and international issues, their recent repercussions, and the efforts made regarding them to achieve security and stability were also discussed.


Makkah locals welcome blessings of the spiritual season

Makkah locals welcome blessings of the spiritual season
Updated 18 June 2024
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Makkah locals welcome blessings of the spiritual season

Makkah locals welcome blessings of the spiritual season
  • Hajj invites millions to the holy city where locals show deep-rooted Saudi hospitality

RIYADH: During the sacred days of Hajj, Makkah witnesses an influx of pilgrims and locals themselves engage more fervently in Islamic practices such as prayer and fasting.

Sami Al-Alwani, a local citizen, enjoys the spiritual aspects of the pilgrimage and says the Hajj season is unlike any other month.

“This annual tradition of welcoming, joy and enthusiasm with which we receive the pilgrims of the House of God is passed down from generation to generation,” he told Arab News.

Muttawwif Wejdan Buqas with Malaysian pilgrims after Hajj. (Supplied)

The arrival of pilgrims also means a peak in economic activity and boost for local employment.

Al-Alwani added: “One significant economic aspect we notice is the full occupancy of hotels, leading to a noticeable economic boost in restaurants and services.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Locals of Makkah, including young men and women, volunteer through available programs to assist and guide pilgrims.

• The sacred time of Hajj also brings forth the deep- rooted compassion and friendliness that are hallmarks of the people of Makkah.

“We have numerous job opportunities during Hajj to assist pilgrims and work with them in Mina, Arafat, Muzdalifah and the train station. We also serve as their supervisors and assist them in completing their Hajj obligations. Many volunteers, including young men and women from Makkah, participate voluntarily through available programs.”

Residents of Makkah have historically played a crucial role in hosting and supporting the millions of Muslims who come to perform Hajj. (Supplied)

Al-Alwani added pilgrimage routes and traffic patterns in recent years had had no negative effects for Makkah’s population.

Wejdan Buqas is a female mutawwif — someone who leads pilgrims in the traditional rites and prayers of Hajj and Umrah — who says she used to offer to drive people to Mount Hira and other holy locations.

“Back in the 1980s, we used to greet pilgrims, let them stay in our homes, and transport them to the Al-Tanaim Mosque, Al-Maala Cemeteries, and Hira Mountain. We used to also take them to private, tiny museums that highlighted Makkah inhabitants’ customs, such as telling them about our Eid celebrations,” she said, adding such activities were now streamlined by the government.

Due to the high volume of pilgrims, nearby companies and service providers were set up to meet their needs by providing lodgings, transportation, medical care, and guidance. The sacred time of Hajj also brings forth the deep-rooted compassion and friendliness that are hallmarks of the people of Makkah.

Bakur Hemdi is a Makkah native from a long lineage of muttawifs, including his grandfather and father. He followed in their footsteps and took up the role when he was 21 years old.

“As a mutawwif, my role goes beyond just guiding the pilgrims through the rituals and ceremonies of Hajj and Umrah,” he said.

“I’m a cultural ambassador, helping them navigate the intricacies of Makkah’s landscape and ensuring they can fully immerse themselves in the spiritual journey they’ve come to undertake.”

He added: “Through my interactions with pilgrims from diverse backgrounds, I've gained a deep appreciation for the richness of their traditions and the shared devotion that unites them in their pursuit of spiritual enlightenment. I take great pride in upholding the legacy of my ancestors, while also adapting to the evolving needs of modern-day pilgrims.”   

Hayat Eid, who also comes from a family of mutawwifs, said everyone in Makkah mostly worked during Hajj or, if not, they traveled.

“We make a profit of a whole year during Hajj season, so many people will not miss that opportunity,” she said. “We also remark to each other, ‘Hajj wala dajj?’ which translates to ‘Are you working in Hajj or are you fleeing?’ which is a humorous statement.”  

She added many women participated by preparing treats like maamoul cookies and date cakes to share during Eid.

Every activity contributes to the Hajj season, a time of great spiritual significance and community engagement for the residents of Makkah who play a crucial role in hosting and supporting the millions of Muslims who come to perform this important religious duty.

 


Hajj: An odyssey of faith and personal growth

Pilgrimage may strengthen family bonds as many perform Hajj with relatives, creating shared memories. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah
Pilgrimage may strengthen family bonds as many perform Hajj with relatives, creating shared memories. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah
Updated 18 June 2024
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Hajj: An odyssey of faith and personal growth

Pilgrimage may strengthen family bonds as many perform Hajj with relatives, creating shared memories. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah
  • Pilgrimage fosters spiritual renewal, community bonds, experts say

MAKKAH: The journey of Hajj, representing the fulfillment of the fifth pillar of Islam, is a chance for personal transformation, fostering patience, resilience, endurance, solidarity and cooperation.

These virtues can positively impact an individual’s life long after completing the pilgrimage.

Pilgrimage may strengthen family bonds as many perform Hajj with relatives, creating shared memories. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)

Before arriving in Saudi Arabia, many pilgrims sell valuable possessions such as properties and homes to fulfill this obligatory act of worship, which Muslims must perform if they are able.

Abeer Al-Jasser, a Syrian pilgrim from Deir Ezzor, said that she has waited many years to perform Hajj. She highlighted her commitment to fulfilling all Hajj rituals meticulously, hoping to emerge with renewed vigor and a new outlook on life.

Pilgrimage may strengthen family bonds as many perform Hajj with relatives, creating shared memories. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)

She described the pilgrimage as an exceptional spiritual opportunity that enhances closeness to God, increasing faith and providing tranquility and peace. “Performing the rituals is seen as a chance to purify oneself from sins, offering psychological relief and freedom from past burdens.

“The sight of Muslims in white attire, symbolizing equality and unity, brings comfort and peace. Witnessing this profound sense of brotherhood, with people from all over the world united for one purpose, is a deeply moving experience,” Al-Jasser said.

Witnessing this profound sense of brotherhood, with people from all over the world united for one purpose, is a deeply moving experience.

Abeer Al-Jasser, Syrian Hajj pilgrim

She added that Hajj has numerous positive effects on health, family and community, and it encourages self-assessment and goal-setting, aiding personal growth and decision-making.

Pilgrimage may strengthen family bonds as many perform Hajj with relatives, creating shared memories. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)

“The pilgrimage also teaches the spirit of cooperation, helping others, and respecting and valuing others, fostering humility and discouraging selfishness,” she added.

Pilgrims may experience deep inner peace and satisfaction after completing the ritual — feelings that can last long after returning home, she said.

Pilgrimage may strengthen family bonds as many perform Hajj with relatives, creating shared memories. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)

For many, Hajj is not just a religious duty, but a also psychological journey that restores balance and enhances well-being. Psychological consultant Abdulrahman Al-Zahrani told Arab News about the positive psychological impacts of Hajj, describing it as a road map for Muslims to reassess their relationships with God, their community and their families.

The pilgrimage offers a historical opportunity for “spiritual healing and conscience cleansing,” he said.

Pilgrimage may strengthen family bonds as many perform Hajj with relatives, creating shared memories. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)

Although pilgrims may be physically exhausted from the journey, Hajj provides a form of “psychological cleansing that momentarily frees them from worldly concerns,” Al-Zahrani added.

“Facing the challenges of travel and performing rituals in potentially difficult conditions teaches patience and resilience, which positively influence daily life. Moreover, the values of cooperation and solidarity learned during Hajj are significant,” he said.

'This journey can also help heal emotional and psychological wounds, with sacred sites and religious rituals providing solace and healing'. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)

Religious rituals such as standing at Arafat offer pilgrims a chance for deep reflection, potentially leading to fundamental changes in their mindset and life perspective,” Al-Zahrani said.

“Witnessing and appreciating the hardships faced by others can deepen the pilgrims’ gratitude for what they have, and participating in Hajj with a diverse group of Muslims fosters mutual understanding and cultural tolerance, building bridges of respect and brotherhood.

'This journey can also help heal emotional and psychological wounds, with sacred sites and religious rituals providing solace and healing'. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)

“This journey can also help heal emotional and psychological wounds, with sacred sites and religious rituals providing solace and healing.”

Psychologist Ahmed Al-Zamel told Arab News that many pilgrims return from Hajj a strong intention to improve their behavior and align their lives more closely with religious and ethical teachings.

“The experience of standing in holy places and contemplating life and death instills deep humility and reverence for God, enhancing individual spirituality,” he said.

The Hajj pilgrimage may also strengthen family bonds, as many pilgrims perform Hajj with relatives, creating shared memories and strengthening family ties,” he added.

“Pilgrims often experience inner peace after completing the pilgrimage, learning forgiveness and compassion, and enhancing personal and social relationships.”

Mutawwif Nader Osama described Hajj as an inspirational spiritual journey. “Upon returning, pilgrims often have a positive impact on their communities, inspiring others with the positive changes they have made in their lives and encouraging them to improve their behavior and actions,” he said.

Many pilgrims turn to charitable work and helping others, driven by the values instilled during the pilgrimage, he added.

“Their experiences of equality and unity among people of different races and nationalities during the pilgrimage encourage them to appreciate and celebrate the human values consistently promoted by Islam,” Osama added.

 

 


Saudi pavilion at defense exhibition in Paris showcases achievements of Kingdom’s military sector

Saudi pavilion at defense exhibition in Paris showcases achievements of Kingdom’s military sector
Updated 18 June 2024
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Saudi pavilion at defense exhibition in Paris showcases achievements of Kingdom’s military sector

Saudi pavilion at defense exhibition in Paris showcases achievements of Kingdom’s military sector
  • The installation reflects commitment to advancement of national military capabilities and pursuit of international partnerships

RIYADH: The achievements of Saudi Arabia’s military sector are being celebrated this week by the country’s pavilion at Eurosatory 2024, an international defense and security event in Paris.

The installation reflects the Kingdom’s commitment to advancing its military capabilities and fostering international partnerships, officials said.

It was inaugurated by Ahmad Abdulaziz Al-Ohali, governor of the General Authority for Military Industries on Monday, the opening day of the five-day event in the French capital. Other Saudi dignitaries in attendance included the assistant minister of defense, Talal Al-Otaibi, and the ambassador to France, Fahd Al-Ruwaili.

Al-Ohali was briefed on the exhibitors at the Pavilion, including Saudi Arabian Military Industries, Saudia Technic, Life Shield for Military Industries, Scopa Industries, Arabian International Co. for Steel Structures, Saudi Leather Industries Co., Al-Esnad for Military Supplies, Khidmat Ray Manufacturing Co., and the biennial World Defense Show in Riyadh, which will next take place in February 2026.

He highlighted the strategic significance of the Saudi participation at an event described as the largest international exhibition devoted to land and air defense and security, and the Kingdom’s desire to attract investment and forge international partnerships.

Saudi authorities aim to localize more than half of their military spending by 2030, with the support of the General Authority for Military Industries and its partners from the public and private sectors.

 

 


Many Hajj pilgrims begin final rituals before returning home

Many Hajj pilgrims begin final rituals before returning home
Updated 18 June 2024
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Many Hajj pilgrims begin final rituals before returning home

Many Hajj pilgrims begin final rituals before returning home
  • More than 1.8m have performed Hajj this year

MINA: Hundreds of thousands of this year’s total of more than 1.8 million Hajj pilgrims began performing the final rituals of their pilgrimage early on Tuesday morning before preparing for the return home.

Many began stoning the pillars in Mina at noon on Tuesday and then headed to the Grand Mosque to perform the final ritual of circumambulating the Kaaba seven times, known as Tawaf Al-Wadaa, concluding their pilgrimage.

However, those who remain in Mina until sunset on the second day of Tashreeq are required by Islamic teachings to stay for a third day before leaving Makkah.

Speaking to Arab News, Aminatu Haruna, a Nigerian pilgrim, said she will be leaving Makkah on Tuesday to return to her homeland after completing Hajj with her two children.

A majority of this year's 1.8 million Hajj pilgrims began their final rituals early Tuesday morning in preparation for their return home. (AN photo Huda Bashatah)

Talking about the services provided to pilgrims, she said: “All I can say is Alhamdulillah (thank God).

“The Saudi government is really trained, and we have seen so many improvements. They introduced electric cars and scooters. Of course, all the officials, when I stopped to ask them, were always there to help.”

A majority of this year's 1.8 million Hajj pilgrims began their final rituals early Tuesday morning in preparation for their return home. (AN photo Huda Bashatah)

Doran Ahmed and Gina Amin, an Iraqi Kurd couple, were also planning to leave Mina on the same day after fulfilling the stoning ritual.

Ahmed and Amin expressed their gratitude to the Kingdom for preparing Hajj in a “great and seamless way, without any problems.”

They told Arab News: “Today, we bid farewell to this blessed land.”

A majority of this year's 1.8 million Hajj pilgrims began their final rituals early Tuesday morning in preparation for their return home. (AN photo Huda Bashatah)

Many pilgrims, after completing their farewell tawaf, journey to Madinah to pray at the Prophet’s Mosque and visit the city’s numerous Islamic landmarks.

Security staff and Hajj and health officials have confirmed that all their plans were successfully carried out, and no pandemic diseases were recorded.

A majority of this year's 1.8 million Hajj pilgrims began their final rituals early Tuesday morning in preparation for their return home. (AN photo Huda Bashatah)

According to the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, more than 170,000 personnel have served the 1,833,164 pilgrims who performed Hajj this year. Of these, more than 1.61 million came from over 200 countries worldwide.

About 40 million bottles of Zamzam water had been served to pilgrims up to Monday, while 300 food supply contractors had provided 9 million daily meals.

Caption

Meanwhile, the Presidency of Religious Affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque had been preparing to welcome pilgrims arriving to perform the farewell tawaf to complete their Hajj rituals.

A comprehensive package of services had been prepared, including guidance, field awareness, educational lessons, initiatives, and enriching religious activities for pilgrims, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

A majority of this year's 1.8 million Hajj pilgrims began their final rituals early Tuesday morning in preparation for their return home. (AN photo Huda Bashatah)

The Haramain Presidency has painted white more than 11,000 sq. meters of the areas adjacent to the Grand Mosque, using materials which help to reduce the temperature at the site for pilgrims.

This fast-drying chemical can be used both indoors and outdoors, on asphalt or concrete surfaces. The paint used at the mosque reflects sunlight and mitigates the effects of climate change, helping to provide a more comfortable environment for waiting, walking, and gathering.

The temperature in Makkah and Mina reduced from nearly 49 C to 38 C on Tuesday morning, according to a report by the National Center for Meteorology.