Hajj pilgrims from Uzbekistan, Morocco, Niger and Iraq latest to arrive in Saudi Arabia

The first group of pilgrims from Uzbekistan, 950 in total, arrived in Makkah ahead of Hajj. (SPA)
The first group of pilgrims from Uzbekistan, 950 in total, arrived in Makkah ahead of Hajj. (SPA)
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Updated 24 May 2024
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Hajj pilgrims from Uzbekistan, Morocco, Niger and Iraq latest to arrive in Saudi Arabia

Hajj pilgrims from Uzbekistan, Morocco, Niger and Iraq latest to arrive in Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: The first group of pilgrims from Uzbekistan, 950 in total, arrived in Makkah on Thursday ahead of Hajj.

Several expressed “gratitude to the Kingdom’s government for the services and facilities that have been provided to make their pilgrimage safe and reassuring,” the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Meanwhile, the Saudi ambassador to Morocco, Sami Al-Saleh, attended a farewell ceremony at Rabat-Sale Airport as the first group of Hajj pilgrims from the country set off for the Kingdom. He was accompanied by the Moroccan minister of endowments and Islamic affairs, Ahmed Toufiq, and other senior government officials.

Similarly, the Saudi ambassador to Niger, Zaid Al-Harbi, saw off the first group of Nigerien pilgrims as they departed from the capital, Niamey. The country’s prime minister, Ali Lamine Zeine, was also present.

Closer to home, a second group of Hajj pilgrims from Iraq arrived at the Arar border crossing in the Northern Borders Province on Thursday, where authorities said they received a warm welcome and benefited from a range of services and procedures designed to streamline entry procedures.

The Iraqi pilgrims expressed their thanks and “commended the Kingdom’s leadership for the generous hospitality and exceptional services provided by the authorities responsible for Hajj affairs,” SPA reported. 

They also praised the facilities at the crossing, which officials said will operate around the clock throughout the Hajj season to provide the best possible pilgrimage experience.


Saudi Arabia participates in Beijing International Book Fair

Saudi Arabia participates in Beijing International Book Fair
Updated 19 June 2024
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Saudi Arabia participates in Beijing International Book Fair

Saudi Arabia participates in Beijing International Book Fair
  • Saudi Heritage Commission aims to familiarize visitors with Kingdom’s diverse culture
  • Kingdom is the guest of honor at BIBF

BEIJING: The Saudi Heritage Commission is participating in the Beijing International Book Fair in China with the aim of providing visitors with a platform to expand their knowledge about national heritage.
The commission also aims to familiarize visitors with the Kingdom’s diverse culture, historical landmarks and historical significance through its participation in BIBF, which began on Wednesday and continues until June 23, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
Saudi Arabia is guest of honor at the exhibition, providing visitors with a distinct heritage experience through its special pavilion.
The Saudi platform includes a display of archaeological reproductions that reflect the Kingdom’s cultural and historical depth over thousands of years.
It also showcases several Saudi handicrafts, such as Arabic calligraphy, prayer bead making and Sadu weaving. Saudi artisans will provide live demonstrations of their handicrafts. The exhibition will feature display screens presenting the Kingdom’s rich and diverse heritage.
The commission’s involvement in BIBF is part of the Kingdom’s participation in various international forums.
Saudi Arabia continues its efforts to raise cultural awareness and preserve national heritage, and this participation also aims to highlight the Kingdom’s heritage to a global audience.


Madinah Governor inspects health services for pilgrims around Prophet’s Mosque

Madinah Governor inspects health services for pilgrims around Prophet’s Mosque
Updated 19 June 2024
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Madinah Governor inspects health services for pilgrims around Prophet’s Mosque

Madinah Governor inspects health services for pilgrims around Prophet’s Mosque
  • Prince Salman was briefed on the preparations made to cater to meet pilgrims’ needs in the post-Hajj season

MADINA: Madinah Governor Prince Salman bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz inspected the health services available to pilgrims in the central area near the Prophet’s Mosque, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.
During his inspection tour, the governor was briefed on the preparations made by the health cluster to cater to the needs of pilgrims in the post-Hajj season, in line with the directives of the Kingdom’s leadership to provide optimal health care and treatment to visitors to the Prophet’s Mosque.
Furthermore, Prince Salman urged medical staff and health care workers at Madinah’s health care centers and hospitals to cater to the health needs of the pilgrims and strive to achieve the highest standards of public health, thereby fulfilling the objectives of the Health Transformation Program outlined in Saudi Vision 2030.


Pilgrims hosted by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Guests Program leave for Madinah

Pilgrims hosted by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Guests Program for Hajj, Umrah and Visit leave for Madinah. (SPA)
Pilgrims hosted by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Guests Program for Hajj, Umrah and Visit leave for Madinah. (SPA)
Updated 19 June 2024
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Pilgrims hosted by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Guests Program leave for Madinah

Pilgrims hosted by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Guests Program for Hajj, Umrah and Visit leave for Madinah. (SPA)
  • They will visit the Prophet’s Mosque in the holy city after completing Hajj on Tuesday

RIYADH: Pilgrims hosted by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Guests Program for Hajj, Umrah and Visit have left for Madinah, Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.

They will visit the Prophet’s Mosque in the holy city after completing Hajj on Tuesday.

The pilgrims expressed their thanks to the Saudi leadership for the generous hospitality and services provided to them during their Hajj journey, SPA reported. 

They praised the efforts made by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah, and Guidance to provide the pilgrims with the best services and care so that they could perform their rituals comfortably. 


Fluent Makkah locals break down language barriers during Hajj

During the Hajj season, locals in Makkah are often praised for their fluency in several languages. (Supplied)
During the Hajj season, locals in Makkah are often praised for their fluency in several languages. (Supplied)
Updated 19 June 2024
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Fluent Makkah locals break down language barriers during Hajj

During the Hajj season, locals in Makkah are often praised for their fluency in several languages. (Supplied)
  • Most Makkah residents are able to communicate in several languages after years of direct contact with pilgrims

MAKKAH: During the Hajj season, locals in the holy city are often praised for their fluency in several languages, stemming from their interactions with people from around the world.

Their engagement in Hajj-related activities, both commercial and voluntary, across various sectors, enables them to secure seasonal jobs and gain valuable experience in volunteering. Most importantly, it provides them with the honor of serving pilgrims, meeting their needs, and ensuring their comfort.

Anas Al-Harithi, a Makkah resident, engages in seasonal work every year during the Hajj season with agencies that offer temporary jobs.

He describes it as a great experience that has allowed him to learn Indonesian and interact with Indonesian worshippers — the largest group of pilgrims arriving in Makkah each year.

Al-Harithi said that linguistic barriers have significantly diminished, as many people in Makkah have long been fluent in several languages.

Through his years of working during Hajj, Al-Harithi has built extensive knowledge related to the pilgrimage. His ability to share languages and actively participate makes the journey easier and smoother for pilgrims.

Most Makkah residents gain this skill not through formal education but through direct contact with pilgrims, enabling them to meet the worshippers’ needs effectively, he said.

Rania Chaudhry, a pilgrims’ guide, said that Hajj is a great opportunity for the people of Makkah to work, serve, and enjoy the honor of this noble profession.

Her ability to communicate in Urdu was developed through years of experience welcoming pilgrims, meeting their needs, and ensuring their journey is as smooth and comfortable as possible.

Chaudhry said that many of the male and female guides originally come from the same countries as the pilgrims. Therefore, learning these languages is not difficult for them.

“This advantage allows these families the honor of serving the pilgrims, hosting them, ensuring their comfort, and providing the best possible services to help them perform their rituals during the Hajj season,” she said.

Chaudhry added that guides welcome pilgrims from the moment they arrive in Makkah and accompany them throughout the Hajj journey, helping to overcome any linguistic barriers.

The relationship between guides and pilgrims forms a strong bond, not driven by economic interest but by human, spiritual, and religious ties, she said.

“It is an obligation before God, as well as to officials and society, to care for those described as guests of God who have come to answer His call. Therefore, everyone strives to understand their needs and communicate in their language if they are not fluent in Arabic. This commitment reflects the true essence of faith that the guides live by, witnessing its blessings and maximizing its rewards.”

Awad Al-Maliki, a professor specializing in linguistics at the Islamic University of Madinah, said that pilgrims coming to Makkah from all over the world have a strong desire to get to know this society, experience its culture and social life, harmonize with Saudi traditions, and engage in knowledge exchange and constructive cultural partnerships.

Pilgrims see Saudi Arabia not only as the heart of the Islamic world but also as a distinct and open cultural hub and a cultural incubator that unites the entire Islamic world, he said.

Al-Maliki said that pilgrims feel a strong cultural connection to Makkah, and many are not fluent in Arabic.

Consequently, residents often serve as their cultural and tourist guides, offering tours of heritage and cultural sites in Makkah and other Saudi cities in several languages, including English, French, Urdu, Malay, and Hausa.

Saudis are passionate about linguistic communication with all groups to enhance the pilgrims’ experience. This cultural diversity propels the city, enriching it culturally, Al-Maliki said.


Saudi deputy environment minister says desertification among ‘most pressing environmental challenges of our time’

Saudi deputy environment minister says desertification among ‘most pressing environmental challenges of our time’
Updated 19 June 2024
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Saudi deputy environment minister says desertification among ‘most pressing environmental challenges of our time’

Saudi deputy environment minister says desertification among ‘most pressing environmental challenges of our time’
  • Saudi Arabia has been at the forefront of driving global efforts to combat land degradation and drought
  • The 30th Desertification and Drought Day was hosted by Germany and concluded this week

RIYADH: Desertification and drought are among the most pressing environmental challenges faced by the world, Saudi Deputy Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture Osama Faqeeha has said.

In a statement marking the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, the minister said land degradation affected up to 40 percent of the world’s land area, resulting in the annual loss of 100 million hectares of healthy land, Saudi Press Agency reported.

Emphasizing the Kingdom’s commitment to sustainable land management, Faqeeha said: “Desertification, land degradation and drought are among the most pressing environmental challenges of our time. This year’s 30th anniversary of the UNCCD coincides with COP16, which is expected to be a pivotal moment for land restoration and sustainable management. Together, we can turn the tide and restore our land. Our future depends on our ability to manage our land sustainably.”

He added that land degradation meant the world lost an area of healthy land equivalent to four football fields every second.

“Healthy land is essential for our future. Let’s unite for sustainable land management,” he said.

Saudi Arabia has been at the forefront of driving global efforts to combat land degradation and drought. Programs such as the Saudi Green Initiative and various land restoration projects were highlighted as models for sustainable development.

The minister said the initiatives not only contributed to environmental sustainability, but also aimed to create economic opportunities and improve the quality of life for communities.

The 30th Desertification and Drought Day was hosted by Germany and concluded this week.

UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw said: “This year, we focus on sharing the wisdom of our ancestors with future generations. More than a billion young people under the age of 25 in developing countries depend on land and natural resources. They are key to transforming their communities and driving innovation in sustainable land management”.

Key highlights of the event included a presentation of the new cohort of UNCCD Land Heroes and the unveiling of the UNCCD Youth Engagement Strategy and the Land Youth Negotiators Program.

These initiatives empower young people to transform land management practices and engage in policy-making processes, especially ahead of the upcoming UNCCD COP16 negotiations which will take place in Riyadh from Dec. 2 to 13.