Madinah forum targets improved pilgrim experience

The Umrah and Ziyarah Forum in Madinah is taking place from April 22-24. (SPA)
The Umrah and Ziyarah Forum in Madinah is taking place from April 22-24. (SPA)
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Updated 23 April 2024
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Madinah forum targets improved pilgrim experience

Madinah forum targets improved pilgrim experience
  • The 3-day event explores new opportunities for Hajj and Umrah services

JEDDAH: The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, in collaboration with the Pilgrim Experience Program, organized the inaugural Umrah and Ziyarah Forum at the King Salman International Convention Center in Madinah.

The three-day event, taking place from April 22-24, is being held under the patronage of Prince Salman bin Sultan, the governor of the Madinah region.

Prince Salman said that the leadership has prioritized the enhancement of Hajj and Umrah services during the prosperous era of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

He said: “The great honor bestowed by God on this country is a source of pride for all of us and motivates us to improve the level of services provided to the guests of God, to search for ideas, and to conduct studies that would advance the Umrah and visit sector.”




Minister of Hajj and Umrah Tawfiq Al-Rabiah and Governor of Madinah region Prince Salman bin Sultan attend the Umrah and Ziyarah Forum in Madinah. (SPA)

The forum is an opportunity for specialists to communicate and exchange experiences during dialogue sessions and discussion panels, and to develop recommendations that contribute to enriching visitors’ experience, he added.

He also expressed hope that the forum would yield positive outcomes and thanked the minister of Hajj and Umrah, Tawfiq Al-Rabiah, as well as the ministry’s employees, for organizing the forum.

Prince Salman visited the exhibition held in parallel with the forum. It houses more than 100 pavilions showcasing the services offered by tourism and travel companies, Umrah agencies, academic and research institutions, small and medium enterprises and service developers, as well as companies from related sectors such as hospitality, catering, transportation, healthcare, technology, communications, artificial intelligence, banking and insurance.

A documentary about Madinah, an essential component of the Umrah experience, was screened at the forum.

A group of experts and specialists attended, with discussions focused on enriching the Umrah and Hajj experience and aligning with the goals of Vision 2030.

Al-Rabiah also delivered a speech at the forum, highlighting the special attention given by the leadership to the Two Holy Mosques and visitors to the sites.

One of the most important factors in the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, Al-Rabiah said, is the Pilgrim Experience Program, as the Two Holy Mosques are expected to witness the influx of millions of worshippers and visitors, requiring management by security personnel from the Ministry of Interior, and from the General Authority for the Affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque.

One of the program’s primary goals, he added, is to enrich the visitors’ experience. The forum serves as a comprehensive platform where 180 speakers from the Kingdom and abroad can discuss strategies to improve the experience.

Al-Rabiah highlighted the involvement of 28 government entities and more than 3,000 local and international companies, with more than 1,500 agreements expected to be signed over the course of the event.




Minister of Hajj and Umrah Tawfiq Al-Rabiah and Governor of Madinah region Prince Salman bin Sultan attend the Umrah and Ziyarah Forum in Madinah. (SPA)

He noted that visits were made to 24 countries to address challenges faced by pilgrims and visitors, and to introduce them to the facilities provided by the Kingdom.

Al-Rabiah said that over the past two years, more than 19 million people have visited Al-Rawda Al-Sharifa, along with a significant number of unique historical sites connected to the life of the Prophet Muhammad in Makkah and Madinah, with many of the historical sites having been rehabilitated.

He highlighted the ministry’s commitment to providing quality services throughout pilgrim journeys, describing the Grand Mosque as a globally significant destination. Additionally, he announced the launch of the 1966 contact center in nine languages for pilgrim inquiries, catering to both domestic and international audiences.

Fahd bin Mayouf Al-Ruwaili, the ambassador of Saudi Arabia to France and Monaco, and the permanent representative of the Kingdom to UNESCO, also gave a speech highlighting the role of historical and cultural sites in enriching the visitor experience.

During his address, Al-Ruwaili referenced remarks made by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during the previous Hajj season, emphasizing the Kingdom’s honor in serving the Two Holy Mosques and making it a top priority.

The crown prince’s comments demonstrate the Kingdom’s leadership goals toward serving pilgrims, enabling them to perform their worship rituals and achieve the purposes of Hajj, Umrah, or visitation with ease and peace of mind, he added.




The Umrah and Ziyarah Forum in Madinah is taking place from April 22-24. (SPA)

Four significant agreements were signed during the opening ceremony.

The first, between the General Authority for the Affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque and Nusuk, aimed to establish and operate an awareness center for pilgrims.

The second, with the Prince Mutaib bin Abdulaziz Charitable Foundation, created a fund of SR100 million ($26 million) for water supply.

The third agreement, between the General Authority for Awqaf and the Madinah Region Development Authority, focused on repairing and renovating water facilities at the Meeqat of Dhul-Hulayfah.

The fourth agreement, between the General Authority for Awqaf and the Taybah Mosques Association, addressed support for the Quba Mosque’s needs.

The forum consists of six dialogue sessions and 24 workshops, in which 29 experts and specialists will take part. It also includes several competitions, including the Artificial Intelligence Competition in Umrah and a hackathon on historical sites related to the Prophet Muhammad’s life.


KSrelief continues aid projects in Sudan, Somalia, Lebanon and Yemen

KSrelief continues aid projects in Sudan, Somalia, Lebanon and Yemen
Updated 25 May 2024
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KSrelief continues aid projects in Sudan, Somalia, Lebanon and Yemen

KSrelief continues aid projects in Sudan, Somalia, Lebanon and Yemen

RIYADH: The Kingdom’s aid agency KSrelief  continued its humanitarian projects in Sudan, Somalia, Lebanon and Yemen.
In Sudan, the agency distributed 950 personal hygiene kits to displaced and needy families in Kosti, benefiting 5,463 individuals. In Wad Sharifi, 330 food parcels were provided to displaced families, benefiting 1,710 individuals. 
Meanwhile in Lebanon, KSrelief continued its implementation of the Al-Amal Charitable Bakery Project in Akkar and Miniyeh. The project distributed 150,000 loaves of bread daily to Syrian and Palestinian refugee families, or about 62,500 individuals.
In Yemen, 897 food parcels were delivered in Al-Abr, benefiting 6,237 individuals, as part of the Kingdom’s humanitarian initiative.
in Somalia, KSrelief continued providing medical services in collaboration with the Kidney Dialysis Center at Banadir Hospital in Mogadishu. The center catered to a total of 384 patients and assisted dialysis, medical examination and emergency sessions.


12 arrested in qat smuggling attempt in Saudi Arabia

12 arrested in qat smuggling attempt in Saudi Arabia
Updated 25 May 2024
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12 arrested in qat smuggling attempt in Saudi Arabia

12 arrested in qat smuggling attempt in Saudi Arabia
  • A separate smuggling attempt of 70kg of qat was thwarted in Jazan Region

RIYADH: Saudi authorities arrested 12 Yemeni nationals for attempting to smuggle 266kg of qat through the borders of Asir region, state news agency SPA reported.
The items were seized and handed over to the relevant authority, SPA said on Friday.
A separate smuggling attempt of 70kg of qat was thwarted in Jazan region. Border authorities said the suspects were arrested and the seized items were transferred to relevant authorities for further action.

Mostly chewed by users, Qat is a mild stimulant and illegal across most of the Arab world.

The government has urged citizens and residents to report any information they have regarding drug smuggling or sales to the General Directorate of Narcotics Control. Reports can be made by calling 911 for Makkah, Riyadh and the Eastern Province, and 999 for other regions. Alternatively, information can be emailed to [email protected]. All reports are treated confidentially.

 


Saudi foreign minister meets French counterpart, discusses bilateral relations and situation in Gaza

Saudi foreign minister meets French counterpart, discusses bilateral relations and situation in Gaza
Updated 25 May 2024
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Saudi foreign minister meets French counterpart, discusses bilateral relations and situation in Gaza

Saudi foreign minister meets French counterpart, discusses bilateral relations and situation in Gaza

PARIS: Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah met on Friday with French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs Stephane Sejourne in Paris.

The two ministers discussed Saudi-French relations and ways to enhance them as well as improve coordination on various issues of mutual concern.

The two officials also discussed the current situation in Gaza and its surroundings and the need to deliver humanitarian assistance to the civilians in the enclave.

The meeting was attended by Saudi Ambassador to France Fahd bin Mayouf Al-Ruwaili, Foreign Minister’s Office Director General Abdulrahman Al-Dawood and Ministry of Foreign Affairs Advisor Dr. Manal Radwan.


Shoura Council arrives in Algiers for Arab parliamentary forum

Shoura Council arrives in Algiers for Arab parliamentary forum
Updated 25 May 2024
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Shoura Council arrives in Algiers for Arab parliamentary forum

Shoura Council arrives in Algiers for Arab parliamentary forum
  • The conference will be held in Algiers on May 26-27
  • Al-Sheikh said that the Shoura Council’s participation in the conference stems from the Kingdom’s commitment to supporting joint Arab action

RIYADH: Dr. Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Ibrahim Al Al-Sheikh, Speaker of the Saudi Shoura Council, has arrived in the Algerian to lead the Kingdom’s delegation to the 36th Conference of the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union, Saudi Press Agency reported.

The conference will be held in Algiers on May 26-27, and will be attended by heads of parliaments and councils from Arab countries.

Al-Sheikh was received by Brahim Boughali, President of the Algerian National People’s Assembly and President of the 36th session of the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union; Abdullah bin Nasser Al-Busairi, the Saudi Ambassador to Algeria, and other officials upon his arrival at Houari-Boumediene International Airport,

In an earlier statement, Al-Sheikh said that the Shoura Council’s participation in the conference stems from the Kingdom’s commitment to supporting joint Arab action, and its continued interest in establishing security, stability, and peace in Arab countries and the world.

The council seeks to support official diplomacy by taking part in regional and international parliamentary meetings and conferences, or through reciprocal visits to enhance parliamentary cooperation with various parliaments around the world, he said.

A consultative meeting between heads of parliaments before the conference will discuss several topics to be presented by its permanent committees, the Palestine Committee; the Social Affairs, Women, Children, and Youth Committee; and the Political Affairs and Parliamentary Relations Committee.

The Shoura Council delegation includes council member and member of the Executive Committee of the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union Bandar bin Mohammed Asiri, council members Issa bin Mohammed Al-Issa and Ahmed bin Abdulaziz Al-Yahya, and several council staff members.


Saudi entrepreneur converts farm into a tourism attraction in Al-Baha

Saudi entrepreneur converts farm into a tourism attraction in Al-Baha
Updated 25 May 2024
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Saudi entrepreneur converts farm into a tourism attraction in Al-Baha

Saudi entrepreneur converts farm into a tourism attraction in Al-Baha
  • Al-Barouqi Tourist Farm owner Ahmed Al-Barouqi rehabilitated the farm while preserving its agricultural terraces, famous trees and old wells
  • The farm is enjoying a surge in demand due to recent rainfall, the pristine atmosphere and the natural beauty of the area

AL-BAHA: A farmer in Al-Mandaq Governorate has turned his passion and hobby into a thriving tourism project.

Ahmed Al-Barouqi, who owns Al-Barouqi Tourist Farm in the governorate, northwest of Al-Baha, takes advantage of the mild climate and natural beauty of the area, including its agricultural terraces, historic village and picturesque valley, to attract visitors.  

With a mild climate and natural beauty of the area, the farm has become a tourist attraction.  (SPA)

The Saudi Press Agency interviewed Al-Barouqi, the young farmer in Al-Tarf, Wadi Rusba, behind Al-Barouqi Tourist Farm.

“My relationship with agriculture spans over 27 years, having grown up in a family surrounded by farms,” he said. “This inspired me to invest in the farm in Al-Tarf village, where we have fond childhood memories of planting grape, almond and fruit trees.

“I was determined to create a rural tourism investment model that harmonizes with the region’s natural features and moderate climate, providing a unique experience for visitors to the province,” he added.

Al-Barouqi said he rehabilitated the farm while preserving its agricultural terraces, famous trees and old wells. He created paved paths and seating areas and opened scenic views of the adjacent valley by adding seating areas.

Popular dishes, including tannour bread, coffee, and tea are offered to visitors in the farm. (SPA)

He also offers popular dishes, including tannour bread, coffee, and tea.

He highlighted the success of implementing drip irrigation for strawberry crops, which aligns with the goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. This initiative has added value to the farm and its visitors, creating new agricultural investment opportunities and promoting a diverse agricultural culture. By diversifying products and experimenting with various crops, the farm aims to achieve self-sufficiency in producing crops for local markets.

Fruits are abundant in the farm. (SPA)

Al-Barouqi said: “Farming has created over 20 seasonal job opportunities for young men and women in the region and established sites for productive families.

“We have a comprehensive development plan and vision for the farm that includes agricultural, recreational and investment aspects. Investing in this sector results in pioneering commercial projects that provide a distinctive tourism experience in the Al-Baha region,” he added.

The farm is enjoying a surge in demand due to recent rainfall, the pristine atmosphere and the natural beauty of the area.