Frankly Speaking: How do US Jews feel about a Saudi-Israel deal?

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Updated 02 October 2023

Frankly Speaking: How do US Jews feel about a Saudi-Israel deal?

Frankly Speaking: How do US Jews feel about a Saudi-Israel deal?
  • Rabbi Marc Schneier says Jewish American community is “ecstatic” about the prospect of normalization of ties
  • Expects to see Israel, KSA, US Congress ‘on the same page’ on US arms sales to Kingdom, help with civilian nuclear progam
  • Explains his rationale for supporting Arab News’ “Why Riyadh?” campaign backing Saudi bid to host Expo 2030

DUBAI: The Jewish American community is “ecstatic” over a potential deal between Saudi Arabia and Israel, according to Marc Schneier, a well-known American rabbi and an adviser to several Arab Gulf states.

Appearing in the first episode of a new season of the Arab News current affairs show “Frankly Speaking,” he said such a deal may be a step toward resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict.

“I think we are very close. I believe we are on the cusp of seeing this rapprochement between Israel and Saudi Arabia,” he added.

Schneier praised the efforts of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who he said “represented himself in a very human, very personal way” in a recent much-talked-about interview with Fox News.

US broadcaster Fox News aired a two-day special last month on Saudi Arabia’s transformation, featuring an exclusive interview with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Fox News chief political correspondent Bret Baier was in Saudi Arabia for the program and the interview. (Supplied)

Speaking to Bret Baier of the US TV network, the crown prince revealed among other things that “every day we get closer” toward normalization of Saudi-Israel relations.

“Very few people had the opportunity to really hear from him, particularly in English. And that connected with the audience,” Schneier said.

He noted that the crown prince’s comments on the future of Saudi- Israel relations not only struck a chord with American Jews, but also with 16 million evangelical Christians in the US, many of whom had a strong positive opinion of Israel.

“I heard from some of my evangelical friends who are in the leadership of this group, how refreshing it is to hear from the great leader of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia his genuine desire and a dream to see a peace not only with Israel, but for a peaceful coexistence for the entire region,” he added.

US broadcaster Fox News aired a two-day special last month on Saudi Arabia’s transformation, featuring an exclusive interview with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Fox News chief political correspondent Bret Baier was in Saudi Arabia for the program and the interview. (Supplied)

However, Schneier felt that the purported demands from the Saudi side — removal of US restrictions on the sale of weapons, assistance with the creation of a civilian nuclear program in the Kingdom, and the creation of a written security pact — could present difficult but not insurmountable hurdles.

“Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the US — be it the administration or Congress — would be on the same page,” he told Katie Jensen, the host of “Frankly Speaking.”

During the Fox News interview, the crown prince emphasized that a solution to the Middle East conflict would be a necessary component of any Saudi-Israel deal.

“For us, the Palestinian issue is very important. We need to solve that part,” he said when asked what it would take to get a normalization agreement.

Schneier said: “That’s the only hurdle that’s left on the table — not a very easy hurdle to overcome.”

Marc Schneier, a New York rabbi and an adviser to several Arab Gulf states, spoke to Frankly Speaking host Katie Jensen on a wide range of Middle East issues, notably progress toward Saudi-Israeli normalization but also the prospect of Israel-Palestinian peace and the hurdles in the path to achieving it. (AN photo)

He considered Jews not only in the US but around the world, including in Israel, as “being a bit naive and not appreciative of the importance of resolving this Israel-Palestinian conflict once and for all.”

Schneier acknowledged that some within Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s increasingly right-wing government may reject any type of peace deal in favor of further expanding Jewish settlements in Palestine. But he pointed out that right-wing leaders had a record of making peace.

He cited former American President Richard Nixon’s historic visit to China, ex-US President Ronald Reagan’s summits with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, and the late Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s peace treaty with Egypt as examples of diplomatic success achieved by more conservative political leaders.

“Often when it comes to these negotiations, when it comes to concessions, you need the people who are more to the right to lend credibility and legitimacy and authenticity to what would be a genuine and real peace. So, I’m not concerned about that.

“If the (Israeli) coalition agrees to the peace, I know that Prime Minister Netanyahu will be able to deliver on that peace.

“My question is, will the Palestinian leadership have that same credibility in terms of being able to deliver on that peace? Does the current Palestinian leadership have the support of the Palestinian people?” Schneier added.

This photo taken on Sept. 30, 2016, shows Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, shaking hands with Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas at the funeral of Israel's former president and prime minister Shimon Peres in Jerusalem. (AFP file photo)

For there to be “a genuine, real, authentic peace,” he said, “the question one has is whether or not the current Palestinian leadership can actually bring many of these promises and guarantees to fruition. These are some very, very difficult questions.”

Schneier suggested that Arab Gulf states could, and should, play a major role in ending the Israel-Palestine conflict.

He said: “I don’t think that the Palestinian leadership could possibly arrive at some kind of resolution with the Israelis without the participation of countries like Saudi Arabia, like the UAE, like Bahrain, Qatar, and others.

“And Israel will need the assistance, particularly of the crown prince and Saudi Arabia, to deliver on this peace.”

In mid-September, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen told Israel’s Army Radio that “there is certainly a likelihood” of details of a deal for forging Saudi Israel relations being “finalized” in the first quarter of 2024.

While Saudis were critical to the peace process, Schneier believed that the Kingdom may adopt an approach different from those taken by Arab countries that have normalized relations with Israel.

“Maybe Saudi Arabia will take the UAE approach — an operating approach — ‘we’ll make peace now, then we’ll deal with the Palestinians later.’ I don’t believe that is the approach of the crown prince,” he added.

Saudi Arabia and Israel have never had formal diplomatic relations, though ties between Israel and several Arab countries have warmed in recent years. The signing of the Abraham Accords in 2020 saw the UAE and Bahrain normalize ties with Israel, followed by Morocco and Sudan.

In this photo taken at the White House in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 15, 2020, then US President Donald Trump attends a photo session with Bahrain Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al-Zayani, left, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, second left, and UAE FM Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, right, after participating in the signing of the Abraham Accords. (AFP file photo)

The Abraham Accords have met with their own share of criticism. In an appearance on “Frankly Speaking” in May last year, former Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Turki Al-Faisal, said there was “no evidence” that normalization had led to Israel being any more lenient on Palestinians.

Violence by Israeli settlers has been on the rise this year, with the UN recording 591 attacks by setters in the first six months of this year as opposed to 358 in the whole of 2020.

Schneier said: “It takes time for things to settle in. But I know people to people in Bahrain, in the UAE, in Morocco, in Israel, that there’s a very, very genuine and heartfelt feeling in terms of reaching out to the other.”

He described the Abraham Accords as “revolutionary” and “a natural progression for Muslims and Jews to be coming back together.”

Schneier has taken on an active role in Middle Eastern diplomacy, having facilitated a rapprochement between the presidents of Turkiye and Israel, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Izaac Herzog, respectively.

“Before March 2022, the state of relations with Israel and Turkiye was one of conflict. Today is it one of great cooperation. So, yes, I’m very, very proud of the role that I played and looking forward to playing similar roles with other countries in terms of bringing the Muslim world closer to the state of Israel,” he added.

Schneier, a native New Yorker, is the president and co-founder of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, which was established in 1989 with the aim of improving Muslim-Jewish relations and Black-Jewish relations.

A poll conducted by the FFEU and PSB Research poll in 2018 showed majorities of Muslims and Jews recognize the similarities between the two faiths. (Courtesy:

“My preoccupation is to find the path to narrow the gap, the chasm, the divide between 1.6 billion Muslims and 16 million Jews,” he said.

“At the end of the day, Muslims and Jews, we are family, we’re cousins. We may have had a few family disagreements, but there are no two other religions that have more in common and have that historic bond than Islam and Judaism.

“So, for me, it’s a natural progression for Muslims and Jews to be coming back together.”

And Schneier reaffirmed his support for Arab News’ campaign to back the Saudi bid to host World Expo 2030.

“I think people don’t appreciate what the Kingdom has done from an interreligious point of view.

“We know about all the changes, all the reforms, politically, economically, but you should know that Saudi Arabia was the first of the Gulf states to reach out to other states, reach out to the West from an interreligious point of view.”

In this photo taken on Nov. 26, 2012, representatives of various religious groups, international organizations, and the United Nations attend a photo session during an inauguration ceremony of the KAICIID Center (King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue) at the Hofburg in Vienna, Austria. (AFP file photo)

In particular, he lauded the role of the King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue, founded in 2012 by the late King Abdullah.

“It was the King Abdullah Center that was the first interfaith religious center ever championed, ever founded, by a Gulf country,” he said.

Before agreeing to serve as the 2022 football World Cup’s interfaith adviser, Schneier called for direct flights between Tel Aviv and Doha and the provision of kosher food at the world’s largest sporting event to ensure “Israelis were made to feel welcome there.”

He added: “I call it my bagel diplomacy. We brought the first bagels ever to Doha, to Qatar.”


Health, Transport, and Logistics Ministries Collaborate for Smooth Pilgrimage Experience

 Health, Transport, and Logistics Ministries Collaborate for Smooth Pilgrimage Experience
Updated 15 June 2024

Health, Transport, and Logistics Ministries Collaborate for Smooth Pilgrimage Experience

 Health, Transport, and Logistics Ministries Collaborate for Smooth Pilgrimage Experience

MAKKAH:The security spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, Colonel Talal bin Abdulmohsen Al-Shalhoub, announced the successful implementation of the plan's first phase to smoothly transport pilgrims to the holy sites. 

He made his statement on Friday during the daily press conference for the Hajj season 2024, with the participation of official spokespersons for the Ministries of Hajj and Umrah, Health, Transport and Logistics.

Al-Shalhoub announced the completion of transporting pilgrims from the Grand Mosque to Mina, where they will stay overnight in preparation for their next stop at Arafat.

He indicated that 160 fake hajj campaigns were seized thus far, with 135,098 illegal vehicles were denied access.

Al-Shalhoub said that the number of non-residents of Makkah who were returned reached 250,381 people, and 6,135 were caught violating the city’s residency, work, and border security regulations.

“Saudi Arabia will always and firmly hinder all efforts to turn the holy sites during Hajj into an arena for demagogic chants that are far removed from the purposes of Sharia law, the holiness of the occasion and the spirituality of worship,” he said.

Al-Shalhoub added that any attempts to disrupt the security of pilgrims in any way will be dealt with firmly.

“The safety of the guests of God is a red line for the security authorities working in Hajj.”

Ayed Al-Ghuwaynem, the undersecretary of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah for Hajj Affairs, said that the most prominent infrastructure development projects in the holy sites include water networks and electrical power to improve services and raise the efficiency.

He added that the digital transformation processes led by Nusuk platform created a shift for pilgrims to access services, indicating that the number of readings of the response code printed on the Nusuk card exceeded 3 million readings.

Nusuk is the first-ever official planning, booking and experience platform for Hajj and Umrah.

The official spokesman for the Ministry of Health, Dr. Mohammad Al-Abdulali, reviewed the services and care provided by the health system, in integration with various agencies and entities, to the pilgrims during this year’s Hajj season.

He said that approximately 35,000 members of the healthcare system, along with approximately 5,500 volunteers, are responsible for providing services through 189 integrated hospitals, health centers, and mobile clinics.

“Fourteen health control centers in the Kingdom’s ports, 98 emergency centers, 32 mobile medical-supply trucks, and 12 laboratories are operational for pilgrims.”

Al-Abdulali added that there are 6,515 beds, including more than 800 intensive care beds and over 280 beds for heatstroke and heat exhaustion.

Aside from virtual clinics, there are seven ambulance planes, 729 ambulance cars and emergency and rapid response vehicles.

He said that 99 percent of domestic pilgrims had completed the health requirements for vaccinations.

“One-hundred and fifty permits were canceled to preserve the pilgrims’ public health, while others who adhered to the health requirements were enabled.”

The official spokesman for the transport and logistics system Saleh Al-Zwaid, stated that the Kingdom’s airports received, as of Thursday, more than 19 thousand flights from over 72 air carriers, coming from more than 90 countries.


Muslim pilgrims converge at Mount Arafat for daylong worship as Hajj reaches its peak

Muslim pilgrims converge at Mount Arafat for daylong worship as Hajj reaches its peak
Updated 15 June 2024

Muslim pilgrims converge at Mount Arafat for daylong worship as Hajj reaches its peak

Muslim pilgrims converge at Mount Arafat for daylong worship as Hajj reaches its peak
  • Hajj officially started Friday when pilgrims moved from Makkah’s Grand Mosque to Mina
  • Saudi authorities expect the number of pilgrims this year to exceed 2 million

MOUNT ARAFAT, Saudi Arabia: Following the footsteps of prophets beneath a burning sun, Muslims from around the world congregated Saturday at a sacred hill in Saudi Arabia for intense, daylong worship and reflection.
The ritual at Mount Arafat, known as the hill of mercy, is considered the peak of the Hajj pilgrimage. It is often the most memorable for pilgrims, who stand shoulder to shoulder, feet to feet, asking God for mercy, blessings, prosperity and good health. The mount is about 20 kilometers (12 miles) southeast of Makkah.
It’s believed that Prophet Muhammad delivered his final speech, known as the Farewell Sermon, at the sacred mount 1,435 years ago. In the sermon, the prophet called for equality and unity among Muslims.
“It’s indescribable,” Ahmed Tukeyia, an Egyptian pilgrim, said on his arrival Friday evening at a tent camp at the foot of Mount Arafat.

Muslim pilgrims gather at top of the rocky hill known as the Mountain of Mercy, on the Plain of Arafat, during the annual Hajj pilgrimage, near the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Saturday, June 15, 2024.  (AP)

Hajj is one of the largest religious gatherings on earth. The rituals officially started Friday when pilgrims moved from Makkah’s Grand Mosque to Mina, a desert plain just outside the city.
Saudi authorities expect the number of pilgrims this year to exceed 2 million, approaching pre-coronavirus pandemic levels.
The pilgrimage is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. All Muslims are required to make the five-day Hajj at least once in their lives if they are physically and financially able to make the demanding pilgrimage.

GALLERY: Hajj 2024: Muslims converge at Mount Arafat as pilgrimage reaches peak
The rituals largely commemorate the Qur’an’s accounts of Prophet Ibrahim, his son Prophet Ismail and Ismail’s mother Hajjar — or Abraham and Ismael as they are named in the Bible.
The time of year when the Hajj takes place varies, given that it is set for five days in the second week of Dhu Al-Hijjah, the last month in the Islamic lunar calendar.
Most of the Hajj rituals are held outdoors with little if any shade. When it falls in the summer months, temperatures can soar to over 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit). The Health Ministry has cautioned that temperatures at the holy sites could reach 48 C (118 F). It urged pilgrims to use umbrellas and drink more water to stay hydrated.

Muslim pilgrims arrive at the Mountain of Mercy, on the Plain of Arafat, during the annual Hajj pilgrimage, near the holy city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia, Saturday, June 15, 2024. (AP)

After Saturday’s worship in Arafat, pilgrims will travel a few kilometers (miles) to a site known as Muzdalifa to collect pebbles that they will use in the symbolic stoning of pillars representing the devil back in Mina.
Pilgrims then return to Mina for three days, coinciding with the festive Eid Al-Adha holiday, when financially able Muslims around the world slaughter livestock and distribute the meat to poor people. Afterward, they return to Makkah for a final circumambulation, known as Farewell Tawaf.
Once the Hajj is over, men are expected to shave their heads, and women to snip a lock of hair in a sign of renewal. Most of the pilgrims then leave Makkah for the city of Medina, some 340 kilometers (210 miles) away, to pray in Prophet Muhammad’s tomb, the Sacred Chamber. The tomb is part of the prophet’s mosque, which is one of the three holiest sites in Islam, along with the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
In recent years, Saudi authorities have made significant efforts to improve access and avoid deadly accidents. Tens of thousands of security personnel were deployed across the city, especially around the holy sites, to control the crowds, and the government built a high-speed rail link to ferry people between holy sites in the city, which has been jammed with traffic during the Hajj season. Pilgrims enter through special electronic gates.
Saudi authorities have also expanded and renovated the Grand Mosque where cranes are seen around some of its seven minarets as construction was underway in the holy site.

Saudi Arabia receives Asian Physics Olympiad flag, prepares to host event’s 2025 edition

Saudi Arabia receives Asian Physics Olympiad flag, prepares to host event’s 2025 edition
Updated 15 June 2024

Saudi Arabia receives Asian Physics Olympiad flag, prepares to host event’s 2025 edition

Saudi Arabia receives Asian Physics Olympiad flag, prepares to host event’s 2025 edition
  • Malaysia handed over the symbolic flag after its successful hosting of the 2024 APhO edition last week

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has officially received the Asian Physics Olympiad flag as it prepares to host the 2025 edition of one of the largest scientific events in Asia, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Friday.

The symbolic flag was handed over to the Kingdom by Malaysia, which recently hosted the 2024 APhO edition in Kampar. 

Saudi Arabia’s team of 8 students won five awards in the 2024 competition, which featured 208 students from 27 countries from June 3-10, 2024.

Saudi Arabia won five awards during the 2024 Asian Physics Olympiad held in Kampar, Malaysia. (SPA)

Some 27 countries are participating in the 25th APhO, which will be held in May 2025, organized by the King Abdulaziz and His Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity — also known as the Mawhiba Foundation— and the Ministry of Education, in cooperation with King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, SPA said.

Dr. Amal bint Abdullah Al-Hazza, Secretary-General of the Mawhiba Foundation, was quoted by SPA as saying hosting such international competition “reflects the great importance and international appreciation of the Kingdom’s position in the scientific and educational field.”

It also “confirms the Kingdom’s strength globally, and the extent of its interest in creating a future to achieve the Kingdom’s Vision 2030,” he said.

“This cooperation reflects the Kingdom's commitment to promoting science and knowledge and encouraging students to participate in such international events. 

“This hosting is an affirmation of the efforts made to develop education in the Kingdom, and it also represents an opportunity to enhance communication and cooperation with other countries in the field of science, as the event promises rich educational and interactive opportunities for ambitious students and youth from various parts of Asia, which contributes to enriching their educational experience and encouraging them,” Al-Hazza further said, according to SPA. 

Saudi Arabia is currently preparing to host the International Chemistry Olympiad set for next month, with 90 countries participating.

The international event is also being organized by Mawhibah, together with the Ministry of Education, and King Saud University, with exclusive sponsorship from the Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC).

How Saudi Arabia aims to make Hajj 2024 an eco-friendly pilgrimage

How Saudi Arabia aims to make Hajj 2024 an eco-friendly pilgrimage
Updated 15 June 2024

How Saudi Arabia aims to make Hajj 2024 an eco-friendly pilgrimage

How Saudi Arabia aims to make Hajj 2024 an eco-friendly pilgrimage
  • Journey causes environmental strain through waste, water and energy consumption, and carbon emissions
  • By adopting sustainable practices, pilgrims can contribute to a greener journey and minimize their impact

JEDDAH: Hajj draws about 2 million people each year. However, this monumental event places a significant strain on the environment through waste, water and energy consumption, and carbon emissions. 

That is why measures have been put in place to encourage pilgrims to minimize their waste, use resources judiciously, and reduce their overall carbon footprint while fulfilling their Hajj obligations.

Various government bodies are collaborating to manage solid waste, promote environmentally conscientious behaviors, and mitigate the adverse effects of litter on the environment.



In a statement posted on X, the National Waste Management Center said: “With integrated efforts to safeguard the environment of the holiest places on earth, MWAN inspection teams are conducting rounds to ensure safe waste management, facilitating the performance of Hajj rituals with ease and peace of mind.”

Its teams inspected 49 operational facilities in the waste management sector across Makkah and Madinah in May to ensure their compliance with waste management regulations.

Teams from the Saudi National Waste Management Center conduct inspections regularly to ensure safe waste management. (X: @ncwmsa)

MWAN says that it aims to roll out several initiatives to serve pilgrims, optimize natural resource use, and promote public health and environmental sustainability.

The National Center for Environmental Compliance plays a crucial role in gathering data and monitoring air quality before, during and after the Hajj season.

“These figures are sent directly to the central monitoring station, where national experts analyze them and issue daily reports provided to the Hajj Committee,” Saad Al-Matrafi, the center’s spokesperson, told Arab News.

“Quick responses from field committees and appropriate decisions are made upon observing significant deviations to ensure the safety of the pilgrims.”

In the streets of Makkah province, thousands of cleaners are hard at work separating plastic waste from compost as more than two million Muslims wrap up their annual hajj pilgrimage. (AFP)

The center also conducts inspection rounds of sites and facilities to ensure compliance with environmental regulations and standards.

“The first phase of this year’s operational plan has been completed, which includes inspection rounds of sites and facilities in the health, municipal, industrial, agricultural, fuel stations, and roads used by pilgrims,” Mohammed Ammar Ameen, the head of the center’s Hajj Operations Room, told Arab News.

Ameen said that any facility found to be non-compliant during these visits was reported to the relevant authorities to ensure the quality of environmental conditions before the start of Hajj rituals.

Maintaining the sacred ambiance: Sanitizing and perfuming the Grand Mosque ensures lasting memories of cleanliness and pleasant fragrances for all pilgrims. (SPA)

In the second phase, the center will intensify its field visits around Makkah and the holy sites, monitoring water, soil and air samples to ensure their safety.

“This year’s monitoring plan includes monitoring environmental violations and responding to environmental emergencies in the holy site camps,” Ameen said. 

“The center’s team of inspectors and environmental specialists work around the clock to ensure the comfort of guests through continuous environmental monitoring and instant detection of any violations in environmental standards and noise pollution.”


• The electric Holy Sites Train produces zero carbon emissions, preserving the environment and pilgrims’ health.

• The National Center for Waste Management is raising awareness about environmentally friendly behaviors.

• The National Center for Environmental Compliance established 20 air quality monitoring stations in Makkah and Madinah.

• The National Center for Wildlife Development works to ensure baboon-free zones at the holy sites.

Clean water for drinking and for carrying out ablutions is provided at dispensing stations around the holy sites and along connecting routes to keep pilgrims and performers of Umrah cool and hydrated.

The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture has initiated 10 projects to enhance water infrastructure, with 2,000 employees dedicated to providing services to pilgrims.

Abdulrahman Al-Fadley, minister of environment, water and agriculture, said that there was an average daily pumping volume of more than 750,000 cubic meters per day to Makkah and the holy sites, rising to more than one million cubic meters per day on the day of Arafa and the days of Eid Al-Adha.

During the Hajj season, 750,000 cubic meters of water are pumped in Makkah every day. (SPA)

Water storage has reached 3.2 million cubic meters. There are also about 4,100 daily laboratory tests carried out to ensure water quality.

Meanwhile, the National Center of Meteorology is monitoring weather conditions in the event of extreme heat events.

Al-Matrafi of the National Center for Environmental Compliance said that he and other departments had devised a set of environmental performance metrics to help encourage improvements.


This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)

“Through strategic analysis of environmental performance and challenges during the Hajj seasons, we aim to pinpoint areas for improvement and innovation,” he said.

“This approach enables us to develop sustainable environmental standards and introduce forward-looking initiatives, including implementing smart cities, adopting alternative energy sources, promoting recycling, and integrating environmentally friendly transportation systems.”

The Grand Mosque in Makkah has a fleet of rides running on electric battery. (Shutterstock)

These include electric trains, a fleet of electric buses, a rollout of brand new e-scooters, and even a pioneering, all-electric, self-driving aerial taxi service — the world’s first to be licensed by a civil aviation authority.

Despite its many environmental challenges, Hajj presents an opportunity for pilgrims to embrace sustainable practices — be that choosing to travel by electric vehicle, to reuse garments rather than buy new clothing, or simply by carrying a reusable bottle.

By adopting these sustainable practices, pilgrims can contribute to a greener Hajj journey and minimize their environmental impact.


Owner detained over fatal building collapse in Jeddah

Owner detained over fatal building collapse in Jeddah
Updated 14 June 2024

Owner detained over fatal building collapse in Jeddah

Owner detained over fatal building collapse in Jeddah
  • Request for a building permit contained false information, says Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority

RIYADH: The owner of a building that collapsed in Jeddah at the end of May, killing seven people and injuring another eight, has been detained, the Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority announced on Thursday.
The authority found that the building owner, Firas Hani Jamal Al-Turki, the deputy minister for shared services at the Ministry of Culture, had tried to apply for a building permit.
The local municipality ordered Al-Turki to stop construction on the building after it was found to have technical defects, but he failed to comply.
Al-Turki’s legal representative, Fahad Hussein Ali Sanba, who works at the same ministry department, communicated with an engineering consultancy office owned by a Saudi citizen, Majed Mohammed Jameel Bushnaq, through a Yemeni intermediary contractor, Mohammed Salim Ahmed Al-Hussaissi, the authority said.
The legal representative sought to obtain a building permit through the office to construct two additional floors and an upper annex. Subsequently, an employee of the engineering office submitted a request for a demolition permit, followed by a request for a building permit containing false information, including doctored photos indicating that the building had been demolished, in exchange for SR50,000 ($13,325).
Al-Turki transferred the money to his legal representative, who then handed it to one of the office employees in cash. The project contractor proceeded with the construction, leading to increased loads and the collapse of the building.
The building owner admitted to paying the financial amount as a bribe in exchange for the illegal issuance of the building permit.
All individuals involved have been detained and legal proceedings are being taken against them, the authority said.