Omani literature, culture in the spotlight at Riyadh International Book Fair

Omani literature, culture in the spotlight at Riyadh International Book Fair
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Oman’s pavilion reflects the cultural exchange and cooperation between Saudi Arabia and the sultanate. (AN photo Abdulrahman Shulhub)
Omani literature, culture in the spotlight at Riyadh International Book Fair
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Oman’s pavilion reflects the cultural exchange and cooperation between Saudi Arabia and the sultanate. (AN photo Abdulrahman Shulhub)
Omani literature, culture in the spotlight at Riyadh International Book Fair
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Oman’s pavilion reflects the cultural exchange and cooperation between Saudi Arabia and the sultanate. (AN photo Abdulrahman Shulhub)
Omani literature, culture in the spotlight at Riyadh International Book Fair
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Oman’s pavilion reflects the cultural exchange and cooperation between Saudi Arabia and the sultanate. (AN photo Abdulrahman Shulhub)
Omani literature, culture in the spotlight at Riyadh International Book Fair
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Oman’s pavilion reflects the cultural exchange and cooperation between Saudi Arabia and the sultanate. (AN photo Abdulrahman Shulhub)
Omani literature, culture in the spotlight at Riyadh International Book Fair
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Oman’s pavilion reflects the cultural exchange and cooperation between Saudi Arabia and the sultanate. (AN photo Abdulrahman Shulhub)
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Updated 03 October 2023
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Omani literature, culture in the spotlight at Riyadh International Book Fair

Omani literature, culture in the spotlight at Riyadh International Book Fair
  • Oman is ‘guest of honour’ country at the RIBF 2023

RIYADH: The Riyadh International Book Fair, or RIBF 2023, is attracting thousands of visitors daily. It offers its audience millions of books, new titles and manuscripts, as well as a space for intellectual and cultural dialogue.

Omani literature and culture is in the spotlight this year as the sultanate is the “guest of honour” country.

Oman’s pavilion reflects the cultural exchange and cooperation between Saudi Arabia and the sultanate. It represents its national culture, books and manuscripts, showcasing the distinctiveness of Omani culture.

The RIBF was launched by the Saudi Literature, Publishing and Translation Commission at its new headquarters at King Saud University on Sept. 28 and will continue until Oct. 7. It attracts publishers, intellectuals and content creators from all over the world.

Hassan Al-Matrooshi, cultural expert at the Omani Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth, and a member of the Omani delegation, told Arab News: “This is a very important opportunity to be here in this big cultural event. This is one of the biggest and most important book fairs around the Arab world. So it’s an important opportunity to be here showing a lot of our cultural aspects, like poetry, novels, history and so many other things, also our arts and music.”

The Omani participation as a guest of honor was an affirmation of the rapprochement between the two countries, and an embodiment of the distinguished cultural relations and issues of concern to Arab culture and thinkers, Al-Matrooshi said.

“This comes within the framework of the deep, long and strong brotherly relationships between Oman and Saudi Arabia. It builds up and enhances all the cultural cooperations between the two countries. There are a lot of things we are aiming to achieve through this platform,” he said.

“Oman actually has been participating for a long time, but this year it’s our first time to be a guest of honor, which is very important.

“This is an opportunity to build up on what has already been built up through history, through a long experience,” Al-Matrooshi said.

“And this definitely will help to strengthen cultural exchange, cultural relations between the two countries. We have a lot to give to each other. Saudi Arabia is a great country with a huge history and civilization. Oman also has great history, culture, heritage. We have a lot of things in common; we speak the same language, share the same heritage, and we live in the same region. We have the same religion. So we feel here we are in our country. There are a lot of things that we can give, and there are a lot of things we can also gain from this opportunity,” he said.

“There are publishers and some official establishments (participating). Of course, the main organizer is the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth, but we also have here the Ministry of Tourism and Heritage, Ministry of Auqaf and Religious Affairs, Sultan Qaboos University Cultural Club. As you see, there are a lot of establishments, official and also private publishers here, around ten publishers exhibiting their books.

“There is a huge amount of visitors and also publishers coming here, that is encouraging.

“The princes, high officials to intellectuals, poets, writers, all sorts of visitors. So this is an opportunity for them and us,” he said.

“Due to similarity we visit each other, every year we receive thousands of our Saudi brothers in Muscat and in Salalah during tourist season.

“We are having a lot of Saudis present on our occasions, cultural and tourism. I am still inviting them to come and see Oman and discover the beauty, the culture of Oman, and the history of their brotherly country to further deepen our ties.”

Al-Matrooshi said that visitors had flocked to the Oman pavilion after the opening last Thursday to see the rare manuscripts, art exhibition, musical shows and VR presentation on display.

The pavilion exhibits a collection of rare manuscripts that reflect Omani cultural history and the sultanate’s role in the Arab world, the connections among Arab countries and people throughout history, and their civilizational role in advancing humanity and serving scientific and cultural purposes.

The Omani pavilion displays diverse aspects of thought, culture, literature, art and heritage, and presents poetry evenings and art shows in which Omani novelists and intellectuals take part.

The pavilion is hosting a folkloric Omani group that performs popular arts, reflecting the diversity and richness of the country.

The outdoor area hosts theater shows featuring Saudi and Omani performances.


Hajj pilgrims innovate for comfort amid Saudi Arabia’s efforts to beat the heat

Hajj pilgrims innovate for comfort amid Saudi Arabia’s efforts to beat the heat
Updated 9 min 47 sec ago
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Hajj pilgrims innovate for comfort amid Saudi Arabia’s efforts to beat the heat

Hajj pilgrims innovate for comfort amid Saudi Arabia’s efforts to beat the heat
  • Portable fans, personal water sprinklers among useful aids in scorching conditions

ARAFAT: Pilgrims have remained inventive in their quest for comfort, despite Saudi Arabia’s diligent efforts to mitigate the sweltering heat at the holy sites.

Alongside the Kingdom’s measures — which include extensive cooling systems — pilgrims are using rechargeable and battery-powered neck and handheld fans in their determination to offset the challenging conditions brought by the summer.

A sprinkler system comprising more than 8,000  water posts has been installed at the holy sites to mitigate the high temperatures. (SPA)

The portable fans provide much-needed relief by offering personal cooling in crowded areas where air circulation may be limited. They allow pilgrims to maintain comfort and focus on their religious duties without being overly affected by the extreme temperatures, thereby enhancing their overall pilgrimage experience.

According to online retail websites, the hands-free fans range from $4 to $8, while neck fans are between $32 to $60. However, some portable waist clip fans may cost from $30 to more than $110.

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Managed by the Royal Commission for Makkah City and Holy Sites, the sprinkler system at the holy sites disperses 230,000 cubic meters of water through a pipe network spanning over 190,000 meters.

In accordance with the Health Ministry’s warnings and instructions, many pilgrims are also being observed using small water sprinklers to cool themselves amid the high temperatures.

A sprinkler system comprising more than 8,000  water posts has been installed at the holy sites to mitigate the high temperatures. (SPA)

A report by the National Center for Meteorology noted that temperatures reached 46 C in Arafat on Saturday. In anticipation of such conditions, a massive water sprinkler system had been installed to reduce heat and refresh the air for pilgrims.

Saleh Al-Sufiyani, a Saudi pilgrim from Taif, said that he was aware of the weather conditions in Makkah and purchased a cooling gadget for SR150 (approximately $40).

Pilgrims are using rechargeable and battery-powered neck and handheld fans in their determination to offset the challenging conditions brought by the summer. (SPA)

He added: “The device provides direct airflow to my neck and face, which are sensitive areas for cooling the body. It helps me feel more comfortable as it reduces the sensation of heat.”

Maryam Jadallah, an Egyptian pilgrim, said that she had bought her portable battery-powered fan from Jeddah after learning about the high temperatures in Makkah.

Water is sprayed on Muslim pilgrims at 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 Arabi, Saturday, June 15, 2024. (AP)

She added: “The fan operates quietly, allowing me to hear everything around me without disturbing my supplications.”

She stressed that cooling the body during hot weather can help prevent heat-related illnesses like heat exhaustion or heatstroke.

Volunteers spray water on Muslim pilgrims during the annual Hajj pilgrimage. (AN photo by Huda Bashattah)

She said that despite having her fan with her, she often kept it off as fans and water sprinklers were installed everywhere to help the pilgrims stay cool.  

According to Kidana Development Company, a substantial sprinkler system comprising more than 8,000 water posts has been installed at the holy sites to mitigate the high temperatures.

Despite Saudi Arabia's diligent efforts to mitigate the sweltering heat in the holy sites, pilgrims remained inventive in their quest for comfort. (AN photo by Huda Bashattah)

Managed by the Royal Commission for Makkah City and Holy Sites, the system disperses 230,000 cubic meters of water through a pipe network spanning over 190,000 meters. It will operate for 15 hours daily across a span of 13 days.

A recent study published by King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre revealed that heat-related deaths and strokes during Hajj have fallen by 47.6 and 74.6 percent respectively over a 40-year period because of the interventions by the Kingdom’s government.

 


Hajj — a profound journey connecting global Muslims

Pilgrims learn the importance of social solidarity through sharing food and mutual assistance in performing the rituals. (SPA)
Pilgrims learn the importance of social solidarity through sharing food and mutual assistance in performing the rituals. (SPA)
Updated 10 min 24 sec ago
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Hajj — a profound journey connecting global Muslims

Pilgrims learn the importance of social solidarity through sharing food and mutual assistance in performing the rituals. (SPA)
  • Pilgrimage unites languages and cultures, building a bridge to the world

MAKKAH: Each Hajj season, Muslims from all over the world, representing diverse languages, cultures and traditions, gather in the holy cities.

Beyond its religious significance, the pilgrimage offers a platform for cultural engagement among worshippers, displaying the rich cultural tapestry of the global Muslim community.

The cultural diversity is evident not only in the pilgrims’ traditional attire, but also in the variety of languages that can be heard throughout Makkah’s neighborhoods, in the Grand Mosque and the roads leading to it, as well as on public transportation.

Muslim pilgrims arrive to perform the symbolic 'stoning of the devil' ritual as part of the hajj pilgrimage in Mina, near Saudi Arabia's holy city of Mecca, on June 16, 2024. (AFP)

Fawaz Al-Dahas, a history professor at Umm Al-Qura University, emphasized the understanding and solidarity of Muslims who gather for one purpose: to perform Hajj.

Despite their different languages and cultural backgrounds, pilgrims strive for understanding, harmony and kindness with each other to ensure their pilgrimage is accepted and their efforts are not in vain, he said.

“The cultural exchange during Hajj is a unique and enriching opportunity. Pilgrims learn about the customs and traditions of other countries, opening new horizons and deepening knowledge,” Al-Dahas said, adding that this leads to greater respect and deeper understanding among people from different backgrounds.

Muslim pilgrims walk at Mount of Mercy on the plain of Arafat during the annual haj pilgrimage, outside the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, June 15, 2024. (REUTERS)

“Hajj promotes the concept of one nation, where all pilgrims are equal, regardless of race or nationality,” Al-Dahas said.

“Wearing the ihram, all pilgrims feel a sense of equality and belonging to a single community, fostering peaceful coexistence. This experience teaches patience, tolerance and cooperation during the performance of the rituals, further strengthening the spirit of understanding and coexistence among Muslims after they return home.”

Hajj also promotes collaboration among Islamic nations in areas such as health, security, and logistics, as governments work together to ensure pilgrims’ safety and comfort, he added. This cooperation promotes brotherly relations and solidarity.

Pilgrims learn the importance of social solidarity through sharing food and mutual assistance in performing the rituals. (SPA)

Through this annual event, Muslims bridge cultural and geographical divides. Hajj highlights the value of interaction between peoples and nations, demonstrating how diversity can be a strength in society.

Rania Shawdary, a mutawif (guide for the pilgrims), said: “Hajj is a significant annual event that reflects the Kingdom’s substantial efforts in serving pilgrims from around the world. Pilgrims witness firsthand the extensive services and facilities provided, which encourages them to cooperate and participate and observe everyone working together for the success of this great ritual for Muslims.”

She highlighted the generosity and hospitality, with pilgrims from different parts of the world receiving free services, such as water, food and housing.

Muslim pilgrims pray at dawn on Saudi Arabia's Mount Arafat, also known as Jabal al-Rahma or Mount of Mercy, during the climax of the Hajj pilgrimage on June 15, 2024. (AFP)

Pilgrims learn the importance of social solidarity through sharing food and mutual assistance in performing the rituals, thereby enhancing the spirit of solidarity and brotherhood, Shawdary said.

“The shared challenges and difficulties faced during their journey prompt pilgrims to assist each other and cooperate, helping them put aside their differences.”

Majid Al-Mufadhli, a Saudi journalist who has covered Hajj events for years, said that media plays a significant role in conveying the Hajj experience to the world.

“This helps promote understanding and communication between different cultures, as media coverage of Hajj events and pilgrim stories and experiences raises awareness of Hajj’s importance and its role in uniting Muslims,” he said.

Social media platforms also enhance communication among pilgrims, their families and friends, as well as between worshippers themselves, facilitating the exchange of experiences and cultures and promoting understanding, Al-Mufadhli added.

“Pilgrims face significant challenges related to crowd management, joint work and adhering to plans set by the responsible authorities, which drives them to cooperate and harmonize with each other to perform the rituals with comfort and ease,” he said.

The pilgrimage also represents an opportunity for innovation in areas such as crowd management, health and transportation technology, utilizing modern technologies to ensure safety and comfort. The atmosphere of cooperation shows the world that Muslims are an organized and compassionate community, capable of adapting to ensure the safety and comfort of all.

“Hajj is an opportunity and an extraordinary gathering that unites languages and cultures. Through participating in this great event, pilgrims learn the values of generosity, hospitality, love and brotherhood, returning home with a new spirit of unity and cooperation,” Al-Mufadhli said.

 


Saudi Arabia’s advanced measures ensured a successful season for pilgrims, says chairman of the Hajj Security Committee

Saudi Arabia’s advanced measures ensured a successful season for pilgrims, says chairman of the Hajj Security Committee
Updated 10 min 30 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia’s advanced measures ensured a successful season for pilgrims, says chairman of the Hajj Security Committee

Saudi Arabia’s advanced measures ensured a successful season for pilgrims, says chairman of the Hajj Security Committee
  • Address to military sectors emphasizes commitment to high-quality services

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s precise execution of security measures has been pivotal to the success of this year’s Hajj season, according to Lt. Gen. Mohammad bin Abdullah Al-Bassami, director of Public Security and chairman of the Hajj Security Committee.

In an address to the military sectors involved in the Hajj season on Sunday, Al-Bassami emphasized the directives from the Kingdom’s leadership and the commitment to delivering high-quality services to the pilgrims as key elements of the success.

He highlighted the Kingdom’s concerted efforts in utilizing all available human and mechanical resources alongside modern technological advancements. This had streamlined Hajj operations, enhancing the services provided to pilgrims, saving time and effort and improving overall service quality.

Al-Bassami noted that Public Security had effectively implemented artificial intelligence for crowd management at the holy sites. The technology had been instrumental in ensuring the safety and security of pilgrims, supported by modern equipment and the dissemination of awareness messages.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received well-wishers on the occasion of Eid Al-Adha at Mina Palace on Sunday where he also praised the various organizations involved in the success of Hajj.
 


Saudi medical team performs brain surgery on Turkish pilgrim

Saudi medical team performs brain surgery on Turkish pilgrim
Updated 40 min 44 sec ago
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Saudi medical team performs brain surgery on Turkish pilgrim

Saudi medical team performs brain surgery on Turkish pilgrim
  • 70-year-old Turkish female Hajj pilgrim suffered a hemorrhage

RIYADH: A Saudi medical team from the neurosciences center at King Abdullah Medical City performed a complex brain operation on a 70-year-old Turkish female Hajj pilgrim who had suffered a hemorrhage, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday.

The team acted quickly to relieve pressure on the woman’s brain, drilling a hole in the skull and inserting a drainage tube.

X-rays identified an arteriovenous malformation in a critical area of the brain, which was treated using advanced medical techniques. There were no complications.

When the patient regained consciousness she was able to be taken off the respirator.

Her health is gradually improving, and plans are being made to allow her to complete Hajj with full medical supervision.


 


Hajj pilgrims from around the world celebrate Eid Al-Adha at the holy sites

Hajj pilgrims from around the world celebrate Eid Al-Adha at the holy sites
Updated 16 June 2024
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Hajj pilgrims from around the world celebrate Eid Al-Adha at the holy sites

Hajj pilgrims from around the world celebrate Eid Al-Adha at the holy sites
  • Abdullah, a pilgrim from Egypt, told Arab News: “Praise be to God, this is our first hajj and thankfully it went smoothly”

MAKKAH: Hajj pilgrims, hailing from various corners of the globe, embarked on a profound journey from Muzdalifah to Jamarat on Sunday, culminating in a joyous celebration of Eid Al-Adha.

The diversity of languages, cultures, and backgrounds present at Jamarat showcased the universal appeal of Islam and the importance of coming together in shared faith.

Eid Al-Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifice in English, has its roots in the story of the Prophet Ibrahim, who God instructed in a dream to sacrifice his son, Ismail, as a test of faith.

The diversity of languages, cultures, and backgrounds present at Jamarat showcase the universal appeal of Islam. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

As he was about to make the sacrifice, God intervened and sent the Angel Gabriel with a ram to be sacrificed instead.

Devoted individuals, who traversed vast distances to partake in the sacred pilgrimage, unite in shared reverence and harmony to mark the significant occasion.

Abdullah, a pilgrim from Egypt, told Arab News: “Praise be to God, this is our first hajj and thankfully it went smoothly.”

Abdullah said that he and his mother went to Arafat, and from Arafat to Muzdalifah, then on to Mina. “We came to Jamarat here, and thank God everything went well.

“Honestly, it is an indescribable feeling for someone experiencing it for the first time. It is a blessing from God that he brought us here, and may he grant us this opportunity every year,” he said.

As his son was cutting his hair, Suleiman Ali, a 70-year-old pilgrim from Indonesia, told Arab News that he is blessed to be spending Eid Al-Adha in Makkah with his family.

“The first time I performed Hajj was in 1993, and I never thought God would bless me with another chance but with my family this time.”

Asma, a pilgrim from India, told Arab News it is her first time in Saudi Arabia and performing Hajj.

“I am happy to be here with my parents, my husband, my brother-in-law, and his wife,” she said.

“It is a very emotional journey for us because we always dreamed of celebrating Eid Al-Adha here.”

Asma said that they still have not performed their animal sacrifice but they are excited to do so.

The annual pilgrimage to Makkah and the holy sites brings together people from all walks of life, breaking down barriers and fostering a sense of unity among believers.

The diversity and unity among pilgrims serve as a poignant reminder of the universal bond that transcends geographical borders and cultural differences.