Wildlife center to explore caves in Saudi Arabia’s north

The National Center for Wildlife’s program to explore biodiversity in caves was launched due to its positive impact on wildlife. (SPA)
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The National Center for Wildlife’s program to explore biodiversity in caves was launched due to its positive impact on wildlife. (SPA)
Wildlife center to explore caves in Saudi Arabia’s north
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The National Center for Wildlife’s program to explore biodiversity in caves was launched due to its positive impact on wildlife. (SPA)
Wildlife center to explore caves in Saudi Arabia’s north
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The National Center for Wildlife’s program to explore biodiversity in caves was launched due to its positive impact on wildlife. (SPA)
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Updated 19 May 2024
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Wildlife center to explore caves in Saudi Arabia’s north

The National Center for Wildlife’s program to explore biodiversity in caves was launched due to its positive impact on wildlife.
  • The program to explore biodiversity in caves was launched “due to its environmental significance and positive impact on wildlife”

RIYADH: Teams from Saudi Arabia’s National Center for Wildlife will begin examining various caves in the Northern Borders region as part of the Caves Exploration Program, which began in 2022.

It comes as part of a larger program that monitors ecosystems and biodiversity throughout the Kingdom.

These sites will be added to an international map of biodiversity and natural heritage hotspots as historical ecosystems and natural biological museums.




Dr. Mohammed Ali Qurban, National Center for Wildlife CEO

Dr. Mohammed Ali Qurban, CEO of the center, explained that the discoveries in the caves hold significant historical environmental value for Saudi Arabia.

“The cave ecosystems serve as a historical museum, providing evidence of the biological diversity that has existed in the Kingdom throughout various historical eras, as well as the spatial, environmental, and climatic changes in the Arabian Peninsula,” he explained.

The cave ecosystems serve as a historical museum, providing evidence of the biological diversity that has existed in the Kingdom throughout various historical eras.

Dr. Mohammed Ali Qurban, National Center for Wildlife CEO

Qurban added that these unique ecosystems provide a suitable environment for a wide range of organisms, as evidenced by the discovery of numerous skeletons of different types of mammals.

The program to explore biodiversity in caves was launched “due to its environmental significance and positive impact on wildlife.”




The National Center for Wildlife’s program to explore biodiversity in caves was launched due to its positive impact on wildlife. (SPA)

The center is currently completing studies on the targeted cave sites and documenting their importance within an integrated program.

According to Qurban, the center’s earlier discovery of several Arabian cheetah mummies in a cave in the northern part of the Kingdom — with some skeletons estimated to be over 4,000 years old — provided the first evidence of the species’ presence in the Kingdom.

Consequently, the center plans to develop a program for the resettlement of the Arabian cheetah in the Kingdom, enabling it to play a crucial role in maintaining environmental balance.

Qurban noted that, among other significant discoveries, researchers from the center discovered rare bats and the remains of several extinct animals.

The center is currently working on classifying these finds and determining their ages. This effort will facilitate the resettlement of these extinct species or their closest genetic relatives, thereby restoring their role.

The cave ecosystem is one of the rarest and most important of its kind in the world, recognized as natural heritage by UNESCO.

There are 1,826 caves in the Kingdom, consisting of underground passages and tunnels formed by natural processes in dry limestone areas — evidence of a historical era that experienced prolonged rainy climatic conditions.

 


Muslims start Hajj pilgrimage in Makkah

Muslims start Hajj pilgrimage in Makkah
Updated 14 June 2024
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Muslims start Hajj pilgrimage in Makkah

Muslims start Hajj pilgrimage in Makkah
  • 1,000 families of Palestinians killed or wounded in Gaza war also arrived to perform Hajj at the invitation of Saudi King Salman
  • This year’s Hajj saw Syrian pilgrims traveling to Makkah on direct flights from Damascus for the first time in more than a decade

JEDDAH: In sweltering temperatures, Muslim pilgrims in Makkah converged on a vast tent camp in the desert on Friday, officially opening the annual Hajj pilgrimage. Ahead of their trip, they circled the Kaaba in the Grand Mosque, Islam’s holiest site.
More than 1.5 million pilgrims from around the world have already amassed in and around Makkah for the Hajj, and the number was still growing as more pilgrims from inside Saudi Arabia joined.  
Saudi authorities expected the number to exceed 2 million this year.
This year’s Hajj came against the backdrop of the raging war in the Gaza Strip between Israel and Palestinian militants, which pushed the Middle East to the brink of a regional war between Israel and its allies on one side and Iran-backed militant groups on the other.
Palestinians in the coastal enclave of Gaza were not able to travel to Makkah for Hajj this year because of the closure of the Rafah crossing in May when Israel extended its ground offensive to the strip’s southern city of Rafah on the border with Egypt.
“We pray for the Muslims, for our country and people, for all the Muslim world, especially for the Palestinian people,” Mohammed Rafeeq, an Indian pilgrim, said as he headed to the tent camp in Mina.

Pilgrims started Hajj by praying Fajr in the Grand Mosque in Makkah. (SPA)

Palestinian authorities said 4,200 pilgrims from the occupied West Bank arrived in Makkah for Hajj. Saudi authorities said 1,000 more from the families of Palestinians killed or wounded in the war in Gaza also arrived to perform Hajj at the invitation of King Salman of Saudi Arabia. The 1,000 invitees were already outside Gaza — mostly in Egypt — before the closure of the Rafah crossing.
“We are deprived of (performing) Hajj because the crossing is closed, and because of the raging wars and destruction,” said Amna Abu Mutlaq, a 75-year-old Palestinian woman in Gaza’s southern city of Khan Younis who had planned to perform Hajj this year but was unable to. “They (Israel) deprived us from everything.”
This year's Hajj also saw Syrian pilgrims traveling to Makkah on direct flights from Damascus for the first time in more than a decade. Syrians in rebel-held areas used to cross the border into neighboring Turkey in their trip to Makkah for Hajj.
“This is the natural thing: Pilgrims go to Hajj directly from their home countries,” said Abdel-Aziz al-Ashqar, a Syrian coordinator of the group of pilgrims who left Damascus this year for Hajj.

Pilgrims started Hajj by praying Fajr in the Grand Mosque in Makkah. (SPA)

The pilgrimage is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, and all Muslims are required to make the five-day Hajj at least once in their lives if they are physically and financially able to do so.
It is a moving spiritual experience for pilgrims who believe it absolves sins and brings them closer to God, while uniting the world’s more than 2 billion Muslims.  
For many Muslims, the Hajj is the only major journey that they make in their lives. Some spend years saving up money and waiting for a permit to embark on the journey in their 50s and 60s after raising their children.
The rituals during the Hajj largely commemorate the Quran’s accounts of Prophet Ibrahim, his son Prophet Ismail and Ismail’s mother Hajar — or Abraham and Ismael as they are named in the Bible.
Male pilgrims wear an ihram, two unstitched sheets of white cloth that resemble a shroud, while women dress in conservative, loose-fitting clothing with headscarves and forgo makeup and perfume. They have been making the ritual circuit around the Kaaba in the seven-minaret Grand Mosque since arriving in Makkah over recent days.
Saudi authorities have adopted security restrictions in and around Makkah, with checkpoints set up on roads leading to the city to prevent those who don’t have Hajj permits from reaching the holy sites.
Security authorities arrested many people who attempted to take pilgrims to Makkah who didn’t have Hajj permits, said Lt. Gen. Muhammad al-Bassami, head of the Hajj Security Committee. Most were expelled from the country, while travel agents faced jail for up to six months, according to the Interior Ministry.

Pilgrims head to Mina to spend the first day of Hajj. (SPA)

Many pilgrims whose documentations were not complete paid fines to be allowed into Makkah.  
On Friday, the pilgrims made their way to Mina, officially opening the Hajj. They then will move for a daylong vigil Saturday on Mount Arafat, a desert hill where the Prophet Muhammad is said to have delivered his final speech, known as the Farewell Sermon. Healthy pilgrims make the trip on foot, others use a bus or train.
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. The Health Ministry has cautioned that temperatures at the holy sites could reach 48 Celsius.

Pilgrims head to Mina to spend the first day of Hajj. (SPA)

Many pilgrims carried umbrellas to use under the burning sun, and in Mina charities distributed cold water and cooling stations sprayed pilgrims with water to cool them down. The faithful set up in their tents, resting in the rows of cubicles and praying together to prepare for the coming rituals.
After Saturday’s warship in Arafat, pilgrims will travel a few kilometers 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.
In recent years, the annual pilgrimage has returned to its monumental scale after three years of heavy restrictions because of the coronavirus pandemic. In 2023, more than 1.8 million pilgrims performed Hajj, approaching the level in 2019, when more than 2.4 million participated.


Muslims start Hajj pilgrimage in Makkah

Muslims start Hajj pilgrimage in Makkah
Updated 59 min 48 sec ago
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Muslims start Hajj pilgrimage in Makkah

Muslims start Hajj pilgrimage in Makkah
  • 1,000 families of Palestinians killed or wounded in Gaza war also arrived to perform Hajj at the invitation of Saudi King Salman
  • This year's Hajj saw Syrian pilgrims traveling to Makkah on direct flights from Damascus for the first time in more than a decade

In sweltering temperatures, Muslim pilgrims in Makkah converged on a vast tent camp in the desert on Friday, officially opening the annual Hajj pilgrimage. Ahead of their trip, they circled the Kaaba in the Grand Mosque, Islam’s holiest site.
More than 1.5 million pilgrims from around the world have already amassed in and around Makkah for the Hajj, and the number was still growing as more pilgrims from inside Saudi Arabia joined.  
Saudi authorities expected the number to exceed 2 million this year.
This year’s Hajj came against the backdrop of the raging war in the Gaza Strip between Israel and Palestinian militants, which pushed the Middle East to the brink of a regional war between Israel and its allies on one side and Iran-backed militant groups on the other.
Palestinians in the coastal enclave of Gaza were not able to travel to Makkah for Hajj this year because of the closure of the Rafah crossing in May when Israel extended its ground offensive to the strip’s southern city of Rafah on the border with Egypt.
“We pray for the Muslims, for our country and people, for all the Muslim world, especially for the Palestinian people,” Mohammed Rafeeq, an Indian pilgrim, said as he headed to the tent camp in Mina.

Pilgrims started Hajj by praying Fajr in the Grand Mosque in Makkah. (SPA)

Palestinian authorities said 4,200 pilgrims from the occupied West Bank arrived in Makkah for Hajj. Saudi authorities said 1,000 more from the families of Palestinians killed or wounded in the war in Gaza also arrived to perform Hajj at the invitation of King Salman of Saudi Arabia. The 1,000 invitees were already outside Gaza — mostly in Egypt — before the closure of the Rafah crossing.
“We are deprived of (performing) Hajj because the crossing is closed, and because of the raging wars and destruction,” said Amna Abu Mutlaq, a 75-year-old Palestinian woman in Gaza’s southern city of Khan Younis who had planned to perform Hajj this year but was unable to. “They (Israel) deprived us from everything.”
This year's Hajj also saw Syrian pilgrims traveling to Makkah on direct flights from Damascus for the first time in more than a decade. Syrians in rebel-held areas used to cross the border into neighboring Turkey in their trip to Makkah for Hajj.
“This is the natural thing: Pilgrims go to Hajj directly from their home countries,” said Abdel-Aziz al-Ashqar, a Syrian coordinator of the group of pilgrims who left Damascus this year for Hajj.

Pilgrims started Hajj by praying Fajr in the Grand Mosque in Makkah. (SPA)

The pilgrimage is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, and all Muslims are required to make the five-day Hajj at least once in their lives if they are physically and financially able to do so.
It is a moving spiritual experience for pilgrims who believe it absolves sins and brings them closer to God, while uniting the world’s more than 2 billion Muslims.  
For many Muslims, the Hajj is the only major journey that they make in their lives. Some spend years saving up money and waiting for a permit to embark on the journey in their 50s and 60s after raising their children.
The rituals during the Hajj largely commemorate the Quran’s accounts of Prophet Ibrahim, his son Prophet Ismail and Ismail’s mother Hajar — or Abraham and Ismael as they are named in the Bible.
Male pilgrims wear an ihram, two unstitched sheets of white cloth that resemble a shroud, while women dress in conservative, loose-fitting clothing with headscarves and forgo makeup and perfume. They have been making the ritual circuit around the Kaaba in the seven-minaret Grand Mosque since arriving in Makkah over recent days.
Saudi authorities have adopted security restrictions in and around Makkah, with checkpoints set up on roads leading to the city to prevent those who don’t have Hajj permits from reaching the holy sites.
Security authorities arrested many people who attempted to take pilgrims to Makkah who didn’t have Hajj permits, said Lt. Gen. Muhammad al-Bassami, head of the Hajj Security Committee. Most were expelled from the country, while travel agents faced jail for up to six months, according to the Interior Ministry.

Pilgrims head to Mina to spend the first day of Hajj. (SPA)

Many pilgrims whose documentations were not complete paid fines to be allowed into Makkah.  
On Friday, the pilgrims made their way to Mina, officially opening the Hajj. They then will move for a daylong vigil Saturday on Mount Arafat, a desert hill where the Prophet Muhammad is said to have delivered his final speech, known as the Farewell Sermon. Healthy pilgrims make the trip on foot, others use a bus or train.
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. The Health Ministry has cautioned that temperatures at the holy sites could reach 48 Celsius.

Pilgrims head to Mina to spend the first day of Hajj. (SPA)

Many pilgrims carried umbrellas to use under the burning sun, and in Mina charities distributed cold water and cooling stations sprayed pilgrims with water to cool them down. The faithful set up in their tents, resting in the rows of cubicles and praying together to prepare for the coming rituals.
After Saturday’s warship in Arafat, pilgrims will travel a few kilometers 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.
In recent years, the annual pilgrimage has returned to its monumental scale after three years of heavy restrictions because of the coronavirus pandemic. In 2023, more than 1.8 million pilgrims performed Hajj, approaching the level in 2019, when more than 2.4 million participated.


More than 35 million bottles of Zamzam water delivered to pilgrims

More than 35 million bottles of Zamzam water delivered to pilgrims
Updated 14 June 2024
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More than 35 million bottles of Zamzam water delivered to pilgrims

More than 35 million bottles of Zamzam water delivered to pilgrims
  • The gesture is part of ongoing efforts to ensure pilgrims have easy access to the sacred water throughout their Hajj journey

RIYADH: Al-Zamazma Company has distributed more than 35 million bottles of Zamzam water to residences and reception centers across Makkah, reported Saudi Press Agency on Friday.

The gesture is part of ongoing efforts to ensure pilgrims have easy access to the sacred water throughout their Hajj journey.

Yasser bin Sulaiman Shushu, board member of Al-Zamazma Company, praised the dedication of the teams which delivered the water.

Distribution is via the Zamzam digital platform, which integrates with the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah’s Nusuk platform, he said.


KSrelief delivers 25 tonnes of dates to World Food Programme in Guinea

KSrelief delivers 25 tonnes of dates to World Food Programme in Guinea
Updated 14 June 2024
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KSrelief delivers 25 tonnes of dates to World Food Programme in Guinea

KSrelief delivers 25 tonnes of dates to World Food Programme in Guinea

RIYADH: Saudi aid agency KSrelief has delivered 25 tonnes of dates to the World Food Programme’s office in Guinea, reported the Saudi Press Agency.

The dates were delivered in the presence of Saudi Ambassador Fahd bin Eid Al-Rashidi and representatives of the aid agency at WFP headquarters in Conakry, the country’s capital.

The WFP delegate in Conakry, Hyoung-Joon Lim, received the shipment on Thursday.


10 investors convicted for violating Saudi stock market rules

10 investors convicted for violating Saudi stock market rules
Updated 14 June 2024
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10 investors convicted for violating Saudi stock market rules

10 investors convicted for violating Saudi stock market rules
  • 1 imprisoned, all to pay total of $27.1m in fines, compensation
  • Manipulated share prices with false statements of firm’s health

RIYADH:Ten investors have been convicted of violating the Kingdom’s Capital Market Law and ordered to pay the government a total of $27.1 million in fines and compensation for losses, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Thursday.

The Appeal Committee for Resolution of Securities Disputes, or ACRSD, sentenced one of the individuals to imprisonment, the SPA report said. The “final decision” was issued by the ACRSD on Dec. 24, 2023.

The amount of $27.1 million comprised SR670,000 in fines and SR101 million as compensation for losses resulting from the violations committed in their investment portfolios, the report added.

The convictions, which included bans on trading for between one and two years, were announced online in detail by the ACRSD and the Capital Market Authority. According to the ACRSD statement, cases were filed against the 10 investors after referral by the CMA.

Several of the perpetrators had “illegally” disclosed internal information related to the financial position of Abdullah A.M. Al-Khodari & Sons Co. before it was made available to the public.

They had also falsely boosted the value of the firm to manipulate the share price and lure in unsuspecting investors.

In a statement posted on its website and on X, the CMA said: “One of the (convicted) was held responsible for making an incorrect statement in the announcement published by a listed company in the capital market.

“This was done to affect the price of the security or to urge others to purchase the security, in addition to his responsibility for neglecting to disclose essential developments in the company.”

In addition, others “engaged in trading based on the illegally disclosed internal information, intending to benefit from it before it was announced and made available to the general public.”

Named in the ruling were Mish’al bin Abdullah bin Abdulmohsen Alkhudari, Naif bin Abdullah bin Abdulmohsen Alali, Abdulaziz bin Abdullah bin Abdulmohsen Alkhudari, Ghada bint Abdullah bin Abdulmohsen Alkhudari, and Sami bin Abdullah bin Abdulmohsen Alkhudari.

The others named were Fawaz bin Abdullah bin Abdulmohsen Alkhudari, Jameel bin Abdullah bin Abdulmohsen Alkhudari, Ali bin Abdullah bin Abdulmohsen Alkhudari, Fawzi bin Abdullah bin Abdulmohsen Alali, and Fawzia bint Abdullah bin Abdulmohsen Alali.

Fawaz bin Abdullah bin Abdulmohsen Alkhudari was ordered to pay the CMA SR50.5 million because of the violations he committed in his investment portfolio.

The others were fined sums between SR100,000 and SR12 million.

Investors who had lost money have been urged to file claims for compensation, the SPA stated.