Spanish PM meets Joint Arab-Islamic Ministerial Committee on Gaza in Madrid

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez met with members of the Joint Arab-Islamic Ministerial Committee to tackle developments in the Gaza Strip. (SPA)
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Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez met with members of the Joint Arab-Islamic Ministerial Committee to tackle developments in the Gaza Strip. (SPA)
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez met with members of the Joint Arab-Islamic Ministerial Committee to tackle developments in the Gaza Strip. (SPA)
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Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez met with members of the Joint Arab-Islamic Ministerial Committee to tackle developments in the Gaza Strip. (SPA)
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez met with members of the Joint Arab-Islamic Ministerial Committee to tackle developments in the Gaza Strip. (SPA)
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Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez met with members of the Joint Arab-Islamic Ministerial Committee to tackle developments in the Gaza Strip. (SPA)
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Updated 30 May 2024
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Spanish PM meets Joint Arab-Islamic Ministerial Committee on Gaza in Madrid

Spanish PM meets Joint Arab-Islamic Ministerial Committee on Gaza in Madrid
  • Officials discuss efforts to stop Israeli aggression in Gaza Strip, Rafah
  • Saudi FM thanks Spain for decision to recognize State of Palestine

RIYADH: Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Wednesday held talks in Madrid with the members of the Joint Arab-Islamic Ministerial Committee on Gaza, headed by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The meeting, to discuss developments in the besieged Gaza Strip, was attended by the foreign ministers of Qatar, Palestine, Jordan and Turkiye and the secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

The committee members hailed Spain’s move to recognize the State of Palestine and vowed to keep pushing to secure Palestinians’ rights and promote peace in the region and the world at a time of extremism, violence and violations of international law, the report said.

More than 140 countries now recognize a Palestinian state, after Spain, Norway and Ireland made the diplomatic move on Tuesday.

The meeting discussed efforts to stop Israeli aggression in the Gaza Strip and the city of Rafah, the importance of an immediate ceasefire and the introduction of sustainable humanitarian aid.

It also called for an end to illegitimate Israeli actions in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in order to achieve a comprehensive peace, protect Palestinian rights and ensure regional security.

The meeting reviewed the committee’s efforts to support Palestinian statehood and take the necessary steps to implement the two-state solution in line with the Arab Peace Initiative and other international proposals.

The committee stressed the importance of the international community taking urgent steps to recognize Palestine to preserve the rights of its people and achieve security in the region.

Prince Faisal thanked Spain and said its move gave “hope in a very dark time.”

“We are here to say thank you to Spain, Norway, Ireland and Slovenia for taking the right decision at the right time, for being on the right side of history, for being on the right side of justice with all the dark we are seeing as a result of the continuing human catastrophe in Gaza,” he said.

“This is the right moment to give a beacon of hope to the two-state solution, to peace, to coexistence and for that we thank you and we hope that others will follow suit because the only way forward is the path to peace and the path to peace goes through a two-state solution, through a state of Palestine that lives in peace and harmony with all its neighbors including Israel.”


Hajj pilgrims reach Jamarat Bridge

Hajj pilgrims reach Jamarat Bridge
Updated 5 sec ago
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Hajj pilgrims reach Jamarat Bridge

Hajj pilgrims reach Jamarat Bridge
  • It is here that Muslims believe the devil tried to talk the Prophet Ibrahim out of submitting to God’s will

RIYADH: Hajj pilgrims on Sunday reached Jamarat Bridge as they advanced through Mina for the final rite, the stoning of the devil, on the first day of Tashreeq.

It is here that Muslims believe the devil tried to talk the Prophet Ibrahim out of submitting to God’s will. On the 10th day of Dul Hijjah, Hajj pilgrims collect small stones that they throw at three pillars in the Jamarat Al-Aqaba, representing the devil.

Huge crowds lined up to perform the rite, many holding umbrellas to shield themselves from the sun. The pilgrims say “Allah-u Akbar” (“God is the greatest”) each time they cast a pebble.

Pilgtims can stone the pillars any time from midday to midnight on the day of the ritual.

After finishing the ritual, male pilgrims traditionally shave or cut their hair and change out of their ihram. Women cut a lock of their hair.

The ihram symbolizes equality, religious unity and the pursuit of spiritual renewal.

Security guards sprayed the pilgrims with water as they braved searing heat to reach the Jamarat complex. Temperatures as high as 45 degrees Celsius have been recorded at the Hajj this year.

The pilgrims will then return to Makkah to do Tawaf, the circumambulation of the Kaaba.

Junaid Nizami, a pilgrim from Pakistan, told Arab News that he was impressed by the arrangements in place to ensure the safety of pilgrims.

“My experience in Jamarat was good and they prepared very well for the pilgrims. Also, the system (is created) in a way where no one can clash with each other. There are police, medical staff and helpers who are supporting the people.”

After dawn prayers, when pilgrims leave Muzdalifah and proceed to Jamarat to take part in the stoning rite, women and older pilgrims can delegate this responsibility to a male in their spiritual journey.


First phase of 2024 Hajj security plans completed

First phase of 2024 Hajj security plans completed
Updated 16 June 2024
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First phase of 2024 Hajj security plans completed

First phase of 2024 Hajj security plans completed

MAKKAH: Col. Talal bin Abdulmohsen Al-Shalhoub, security spokesperson at the Ministry of Interior, announced during a daily press conference for the 2024 Hajj season the successful completion of the first phase of security plans to lead pilgrims from Makkah to subsequent holy sites.

After spending around 12 hours in Arafat on Saturday for the most important part of Hajj, the over 1.8 million worshippers officially moved to the rocky plains of Muzdalifah in preparation for the final stages of their Hajj.

“The second stage of the journey to the holy sites is currently being implemented to transport pilgrims from Arafat to Muzdalifah, where they will be spending the night before departing to Mina for Eid Al-Adha,” said Al-Shalhoub.

He added that 25 persons found to be violating Hajj regulations were arrested on the night of June 15 for transporting 103 individuals without Hajj permits.

“The Unified Security Operations Centers (911) in Makkah received 52,274 calls from June 14 to 15. These calls varied between security reports, inquiries, and service calls from pilgrims,” he said.

Speaking on the journey to Muzdalifah, Ayed Al-Ghuwaynem, undersecretary of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah for Hajj Affairs said: “The tranquility and comfort we witnessed today in Arafat enabled the pilgrims to perform rituals and devote themselves to worship and supplication.”

He added that the smooth operations were the fruit of early planning and collective governmental action.

“This was the result of distinguished cooperation from pilgrims’ affairs offices from all countries, as well as pilgrims’ service providers inside and outside the Kingdom,” said Al-Ghuwaynem.

Dr. Mohammed Al-Abdulali, spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, said that over 112,000 pilgrims have received health care from different providers during the Hajj season, including clinics, emergency departments, hospitals, and intensive care units.


Mashaer metro system transports thousands of pilgrims from Mina to Arafat

Mashaer metro system transports thousands of pilgrims from Mina to Arafat
Updated 16 June 2024
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Mashaer metro system transports thousands of pilgrims from Mina to Arafat

Mashaer metro system transports thousands of pilgrims from Mina to Arafat
  • There are 17 trains in the Mashaer metro fleet, each capable of carrying 3,000 passengers

MAKKAH: Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims used the Mashaer metro system to travel from Mina to Arafat on Saturday, as they began the most important day of the Hajj pilgrimage.

The metro system consists of nine stations located across the holy sites, connected by an 18-kilometer double-track railway, and is capable of accommodating 72,000 passengers per hour in one direction. The journey from Mina to Arafat takes just 20 minutes, with the train traveling at 80 km per hour, according to a report by the Saudi Press Agency.

There are 17 trains in the Mashaer metro fleet, each capable of carrying 3,000 passengers. The eco-friendly electric trains significantly reduce traffic congestion and carbon emissions by replacing approximately 50,000 passenger buses during the Hajj season.

The trains are managed the Facilities Security Forces, under the supervision of the Ministry of Interior.

Khalil Hasan, an Egyptian pilgrim, said he is performing Hajj for the second time.

“The first time I performed Hajj was nearly 30 years back when I was a schoolteacher in Yanbu. Everything here has unbelievably changed, including the Jamarat Bridge.“Seeing the metro travelling between stations in the holy sites was a wonderful scene that added great glamor to the place and substantial enhancement to the many services provided by the kingdom,” Hasan said.

Previously, he added, he could not have imagined that a pilgrim would be able to reach Arafat from Mina within minutes.

Hasan’s lifelong friend, AbdulTawab, who is accompanying him on the spiritual journey, said that it is his first Hajj experience, and he was amazed by the metro service.

“It is wonderful, and I am grateful to the Kingdom for this metro that has facilitated the movement of pilgrims, especially the elderly, making it easy and comfortable to move from one place to another within the holy places,” he said.


Pilgrims prepare for the final stages of Hajj

Pilgrims prepare for the final stages of Hajj
Updated 16 June 2024
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Pilgrims prepare for the final stages of Hajj

Pilgrims prepare for the final stages of Hajj
  • Pilgrims spent the night in Muzdalifah, under the open sky, where they took the time to rest and refresh

MAKKAH: Hajj pilgrims have begun preparing for the final stages of this year’s pilgrimage, arriving in Muzdalifah after spending the entire day performing prayers and supplications in Arafat.

After they arrived in Muzdalifah, pilgrims performed Maghrib and Isha prayers and collected pebbles for the stoning rituals at the Jamarat area in Mina, which begin Sunday morning.

These stones are used once they reach Mina, where pilgrims perform the “first throwing” of Jamarat, before heading to the Grand Mosque in Makkah for tawaf (circumambulation) and “sacrificing the lamb,” a commemoration of the sacrifice Prophet Ibrahim had intended to make of his son Ismail as an act of obedience to Allah.

Pilgrims spent the night in Muzdalifah, under the open sky, where they took the time to rest and refresh.

The first day in Mina, the 10th of Dhul Hijjah, marks the first day of Eid Al-Adha. On this day, pilgrims sacrifice animals. Male pilgrims have their heads shaved and take off their ihram clothes. Female pilgrims cut only a portion of their hair.

Hisham Thamin, an Indian pilgrim living in Qatar, told Arab News that it had been a seamless Hajj experience.

“It’s a very nice (and) very spiritual feeling. I’m enjoying the vibes here. The people here are very calm. It’s a very peaceful atmosphere.”

Thamin said that he was initially concerned about the arrangements given the heat and high numbers of people, but he was pleasantly surprised by the coordination and organization by the Saudi government.

“I’m glad the Saudi government has made very good arrangements. There’s cold water, cold juices, and breakfast boxes for everyone. They have spread out all the sheets on the sand, to make sure it’s comfortable for everyone. So I’m liking it very much. And it’s not what I expected, it’s much better than what I expected.”

Nawaf Alhabib, a Saudi pilgrim, said his experience had been “perfect.”

Alhabib planned to walk to Mina on Sunday morning before Fajr prayer.

“By 12 in the morning, we will finish from Muzdalifah and make our way towards Mina. We will rest and then perform Jamarat and it will hopefully be a beautiful day tomorrow.”

Saudi pilgrim Tawfeeq Alquraishi said he was proud of the developments and initiatives fulfilled by the Kingdom.

“The services provided to ensure a smooth Hajj experience for pilgrims is something I am so proud of as a Saudi national. This is a successful and comfortable Hajj.”

Waleed Mohammed, a pilgrim from Egypt, was grateful for being able to perform Hajj.

“This is a feeling I cannot explain. Thank God for everything,” he said. “This is an experience that everyone dreams of … everyone is happy and the organization is beyond our expectations.”


225 pilgrims treated for heat stress and fatigue on second day of Hajj

225 pilgrims treated for heat stress and fatigue on second day of Hajj
Updated 16 June 2024
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225 pilgrims treated for heat stress and fatigue on second day of Hajj

225 pilgrims treated for heat stress and fatigue on second day of Hajj
  • The cases were treated at the Medical Center for Heat Exhaustion and Sunstroke 

MAKKAH: About 225 cases of pilgrims suffering from heat stress and fatigue had been treated at the medical center for heat exhaustion and sunstroke in Makkah, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday.

The cases were reported on Saturday, the second day of Hajj, when pilgrims ascended Mount Arafat to ask God for mercy, blessings, prosperity and good health.

The ritual at Mount Arafat, known as the Hill of Mercy, is considered the peak of the Hajj pilgrimage. 

 

Medics at the center for heat exhaustion and sunstroke in Makkah attend to a heat stroke victim on Saturday. (SPA)

The center, affiliated with the Saudi Ministry of National Guard Health Affairs, has 20 beds equipped with the latest equipment to deal with cases of heat stress and sunstroke.

It is also equipped with an air and water spray system using sprinklers to cover all parts of the injured person’s body, in addition to clinics for men and women and a pharmacy.

Saudi officials had earlier advised pilgrims to use umbrellas and keep themselves hydrated, and to take rest periods between rituals to avoid heat fatigue. 

The National Center for Meteorology had forecast that temperatures in Makkah would range between 45 C and 48 C, with little rain potential.