Minister of transport: 22 comprehensive plans developed to serve pilgrims

The Saudi Minister of Transport and Logistics Saleh Al-Jasser. (Supplied)
The Saudi Minister of Transport and Logistics Saleh Al-Jasser. (Supplied)
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Updated 06 June 2024
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Minister of transport: 22 comprehensive plans developed to serve pilgrims

The Saudi Minister of Transport and Logistics Saleh Al-Jasser. (Supplied)
  • This year, six airports have been prepared to receive pilgrims, with both national and international airlines participating in their transportation
  • Approximately 250 arrival destinations are prepared, the largest number ever for the Hajj season

MAKKAH: The Saudi Minister of Transport and Logistics Saleh Al-Jasser said the transport sector is fully prepared to provide the best services to pilgrims during the Hajj season.

In a press conference organized by the Ministry of Transport to review its plans and logistics services in Mina on Thursday, he said all necessary human resources have been mobilized, with over 47,000 personnel from the transport sector trained and equipped with all necessary tools to ensure the highest quality of service.

He said there are 22 comprehensive plans for the transport sector, including operational plans, business sustainability strategies, and emergency response plans, all fully integrated with the relevant agencies and operating under the supervision of the Supreme Hajj Committee.

He said that this year new technologies will continue to be employed. There are 32 scientific experiments planned for the Hajj season, including 17 new technologies such as flying taxis, delivery services, and various other innovations. Additionally, a new road infrastructure experiment was conducted by mixing rubber with asphalt on the main pedestrian road to enhance comfort and safety for pilgrims. White coating was applied to reduce temperature, and the roads adjacent to Namira Mosque were expanded for better accessibility.

He explained that last year’s coating experiment at a specific location in the holy sites successfully reduced the temperature by 15 C. Building on that success, this year the experiment was expanded to include the use of a rubber mixture with asphalt to further enhance the infrastructure.

This year, six airports have been prepared to receive pilgrims, with both national and international airlines participating in their transportation. Approximately 250 arrival destinations are prepared, the largest number ever for the Hajj season. Additionally, preparations are underway to ensure pilgrims return safely to their homes.

The minister said the transport sector is committed to continuing the implementation of plans in the coming days. Inspections have been conducted at sites in Mina, Arafat, and Muzdalifah, as well as visits to King Abdulaziz Airport in Jeddah, the Jeddah Islamic Port, and other facilities that work together to provide comprehensive services to pilgrims.

In turn, the president of the Saudi Post, Anef Abanomi, said more than 2,570 employees are on the ground serving pilgrims. He highlighted that they have implemented geospatial services to provide addresses and navigation aids and are involved in transporting pilgrims’ luggage from airports and various locations to the holy sites in Makkah, then safely returning it to their respective locations. Additionally, they are providing postal services to over 120 government agencies around the clock, reaching all pilgrims through more than 45 fixed and mobile stations in Makkah, Madinah and other sites. Furthermore, they offer services for the sale of sacrificial animals and the transportation of parcels to countries worldwide after the Hajj season.

Omar Hariri, president of the Saudi Ports Authority, announced that they have received 3,700 out of an expected 4,500 pilgrims, with the final ship scheduled to arrive on Friday. He highlighted the launch of the “Passengers with No Bags” service, which simplifies travel for pilgrims. Hariri also reported the handling of 2.5 million livestock, marking an 8 percent increase over last year, along with the handling of 600,000 containers and various foodstuffs.

Bashar Al-Malik, CEO of the Saudi Railway Co., said they are serving pilgrims through two key networks. The first is the Haramain High Speed Railway, which connects Makkah and Madinah, with additional stops at two stations in Jeddah and one in Rabigh, totaling five stations. The second network is the Al-Mashaaer Metro Line, which provides transportation within the holy sites, featuring nine stations.

He added that the Haramain High Speed Railway operates 35 trains across a network spanning 453 km, making it one of the 10 fastest trains in the world, reaching speeds of up to 300 km/h. This year, seat capacity has been increased to 1.6 million, an addition of 100,000 seats over last year. He also highlighted a new arrangement that allows pilgrims to travel directly from the airport to the Jeddah train station without their bags, ensuring their luggage arrives at their accommodations before they do.


Saudi Arabia invests $46m on cutting-edge veterinary lab

Saudi Arabia invests $46m on cutting-edge veterinary lab
Updated 6 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia invests $46m on cutting-edge veterinary lab

Saudi Arabia invests $46m on cutting-edge veterinary lab
  • Laboratory will conduct disease diagnosis as well as vaccine development and localization in the Middle East
  • Lab is part of the Kingdom’s initiative to develop and produce veterinary vaccines for local disease strains

RIYADH: A state-of-the-art veterinary laboratory will be built in Riyadh to develop local vaccines against animal diseases.

A contract worth more than SR175 million ($46.6 million) was signed by Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture Abdulrahman Al-Fadhli to establish the site.

The laboratory will conduct disease diagnosis as well as vaccine development and localization in the Middle East, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The contract was awarded to a specialized national company. The lab is part of the Kingdom’s initiative to develop and produce veterinary vaccines for local disease strains.

It will serve as a hub for monitoring and controlling the spread of animal diseases, conducting specialized laboratory tests and identifying disease causes through DNA sequencing.

Scientists will develop Saudi-specific vaccines from local microbial strains, boosting the production of local vaccines and conducting applied research that benefits the Kingdom’s animal wealth and health sectors. This includes monitoring and updating standard methods for detecting animal diseases in line with the standards set by the International Organization for Animal Health.

According to the SPA, the facility will spearhead the development of cutting-edge vaccines derived from local disease strains, offering higher immune responses compared to global strains. The move toward localizing veterinary vaccine production will enhance the Kingdom’s ability to control and eliminate local diseases, thereby safeguarding its livestock wealth.

The ministry said that the project aligns with its efforts to develop the animal wealth sector and protect public health by combating zoonotic diseases and cross-species pathogens.

The laboratory will be equipped with cutting-edge technology and staffed by highly qualified specialists, the SPA reported.


KSrelief continues medical projects in Jordan and Somalia

KSrelief continues medical projects in Jordan and Somalia
Updated 15 July 2024
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KSrelief continues medical projects in Jordan and Somalia

KSrelief continues medical projects in Jordan and Somalia

RIYADH: Saudi aid agency KSrelief continued its humanitarian aid projects in Jordan and Somalia, reported state news agency SPA on Sunday.
In Jordan, the aid agency provided medical services to 2,271 patients living in Zaatari camp for Syrian refugees. The services ranged from general medicine for adults and children to dental care and vaccinations.
In Somalia, the kidney dialysis center at Banadir Hospital in Mogadishu, supported by the aid agency, served 348 patients last month.
A total of 163 dialysis patients underwent 1,051 scheduled sessions and 12 emergency sessions.
These initiatives are part of the Kingdom’s effort to alleviate suffering to those in need.


Saudi ambassador presents credentials to Egypt’s president

Saleh bin Eid Al-Hosseini presents his credentials as Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Egypt. (SPA)
Saleh bin Eid Al-Hosseini presents his credentials as Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Egypt. (SPA)
Updated 15 July 2024
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Saudi ambassador presents credentials to Egypt’s president

Saleh bin Eid Al-Hosseini presents his credentials as Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Egypt. (SPA)
  • Al-Husseini was warmly welcomed by El-Sisi and wished him well in his role as ambassador

CAIRO: Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Egypt Saleh bin Eid Al-Hosseini presented his credentials to President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in Cairo on Sunday, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The ambassador conveyed the greetings of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and their wishes for continued progress and prosperity for the Egyptian people.

Al-Husseini was warmly welcomed by El-Sisi and wished him well in his role as ambassador.

El-Sisi asked the ambassador to extend his greetings to King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, wishing them continued prosperity and progress.

 


Zest for life: Disabled Saudi artist finds expression in his work

Rakan Kurdi’s paintings have won acclaim from across the country and abroad. (Supplied)
Rakan Kurdi’s paintings have won acclaim from across the country and abroad. (Supplied)
Updated 14 July 2024
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Zest for life: Disabled Saudi artist finds expression in his work

Rakan Kurdi’s paintings have won acclaim from across the country and abroad. (Supplied)
  • Saudi Rakan Kurdi will not let his genetic condition affect his desire to create

JEDDAH: Meet Rakan Kurdi, a Saudi artist who was born with spinal muscular atrophy and is determined to navigate life, and explore art, on his own terms.

Kurdi’s journey with paints and brushes began at a young age when he joined the Children with Disability Association, a specialized school for people with disabilities in Jeddah.

He is now one of the coastal city’s most popular artists, selling works and winning many prizes.

Rakan Kurdi’s portraits of Saudi royals has earned him viral recognition on social media. (Supplied)

A graphic designer and motivational speaker in addition to his art, Kurdi spoke to Arab News about his life.

An enthusiast from childhood, he was encouraged by his teacher’s words when she told him at the age of 8: “I can see an artist in you. You must work on your talent, learn more at home and keep practicing to develop your skills.”

Speaking about the challenges he faced in school, he said: “My parents decided to enroll me in a regular school in order to associate with regular kids. Unfortunately it did not work right for me because kids at school bullied me and were making fun of me all the time. That’s why I couldn’t pursue my studies.

I am an artist; that’s how I see myself. I don’t want people to like my paintings because of my physical condition.

Rakan Kurdi, Saudi artist

“My greatest strength and source of motivation through all this has been my parents. They never let me feel that I lacked anything.”

After leaving school after the fifth grade, Kurdi dedicated himself to his love for painting, eventually realizing that it was his true calling.

Working from his studio, Kurdi is well on his way to becoming a big name in the region’s art world. (Supplied)

Working from his studio, Kurdi is well on his way to becoming a big name in the region’s art world.

But creating artwork is no easy task for the 32-year-old, who was born with a neuromuscular genetic disorder that left him paralyzed.

However, it has not dampened his creativity. Kurdi has been painting since the age of 8, with his works being showcased in local group exhibitions.

Rakan Kurdi, Saudi artist

He said: “I am an artist; that’s how I see myself. I don’t want people to like my paintings because of my physical condition. I would like to know that my work is self-standing and impressive, regardless of the capabilities of its artist.”

Kurdi continues to live life with an ever-present smile, despite his challenges.

He added: “I have never thought my disability was an obstacle to my dream. Since I stopped going to school, I (have) just continued doing art, participated in various local exhibitions, started to sell my portraits nationally and internationally, and most importantly got married. I am so happy with my life.”

Portraits of King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the late King Faisal bin Abdulaziz, Sheikh Zayed, celebrated Saudi singer Mohammed Abdo, and the late Talal Maddah helped to get Kurdi noticed.

He admits that the biggest project of his career was creating 80 by 110 cm oil paintings of the king and crown prince. His subsequent post on social media received more than 1 million views in less than 19 hours.

He said: “Definitely they are my most expensive and most important portraits.

“I also dedicated a special portrait to Prince Turki bin Salman, who really liked my work and decided to hang it on the wall of the Royal Palace in Jeddah.”

Kurdi’s paintings have won acclaim from across the country and abroad, with commissions ranging from about SR10,000 ($2,666) to SR250,000, depending on the size of the work.

Inspired by the work of Leonardo da Vinci, he said: “We both belong to the same school of art.

“Despite my disability, it’s not difficult to make a realistic painting.”

Social media has proved an important tool to promote his work. He has about 500,000 followers across Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, and says he receives his orders via the platforms.

With many projects in the pipeline, Kurdi’s hands are full.

He is also continuing his work as a motivational speaker, and added: “(I) just want to inspire everyone to identify and follow their dreams, no matter the obstacles.”

Now that his work has earned recognition in the Kingdom and other Gulf Cooperation Council states, Kurdi hopes to showcase his work in London or Paris.

“It is my dream to showcase my work internationally,” he said.

 

 


Women in Tabuk eager to take the reins

Women in Tabuk eager to take the reins
Updated 14 July 2024
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Women in Tabuk eager to take the reins

Women in Tabuk eager to take the reins
  • Al-Talbi is encouraging more women to embrace equestrianism, highlighting benefits that extend beyond physical health and enhance psychological and mental well-being

RIYADH: With the resurgence of equestrian sports in the Kingdom, Saudi women in Tabuk are reconnecting with their heritage and taking the reins with skill and passion.

In a recent interview, equestrian Arwa Al-Talbi spoke to the Saudi Press Agency about the beginnings of her journey into the world of horses.

“My relationship with horses began five years ago when I read about the psychological philosophy of equestrianism, which inspired me to learn to ride,” Al-Talbi said

Saudi Vision 2030 has ushered in a new era for women’s sports, enabling them to pursue various sports, with equestrianism a standout. (SPA)

She said that equestrianism is not just a physical activity, and that there is a spiritual and mental connection inherent in one of the oldest sports known to humanity.

“My journey into the world of horses started thanks to God and the wise leadership’s support for equestrianism and the empowerment of women in various sports,” Al-Talbi added. Her love for horses and skill as a horse rider has led to her becoming an accomplished show jumper and free rider.

She is learning the sport of tent pegging, which is a “test of a rider’s skills due to its historical ties to ancient warfare.”

FASTFACTS

• The Tabuk region is currently hosting a foundation training course for the sport of preliminary tent pegging, organized by the Saudi Equestrian Federation.

• The 15-day course, held at the Al-Thunayanh stable, has attracted about 30 riders of various ages, both male and female.

Al-Talbi is encouraging more women to embrace equestrianism, highlighting benefits that extend beyond physical health and enhance psychological and mental well-being.

Another female rider, Ohoud Al-Majzoub, said her deep connection with horses is rooted in her pride in her Arab identity and a lifelong passion that began in childhood. She followed her dream of becoming an equestrian by training to acquire all the necessary skills.

Now she excels not only in free riding but also in show jumping, a discipline that demands navigating a series of obstacles, from simple vertical heights to intricate courses. Her journey is testament to her unique and distinctive sporting creativity.

In the SPA report, equestrians Raghad Mahmoud and Heba Al-Fares said that their childhood dreams of horse riding were once just hopes, because of the lack of clubs. However, Saudi Vision 2030 has ushered in a new era for women’s sports, enabling them to pursue various sports, with equestrianism a standout.

They have since learned to ride and excel in show jumping and free riding and said the availability of such sports and the establishment of dedicated clubs will ignite the passion of many women, whether in equestrianism or other sports.

Noting the growing interest in equestrian sports among women in the Tabuk region, Nasser Al-Nasser, who owns stables in the area, confirmed to SPA that there is a year-round increase in demand for the sport.

Women’s interest in the sport led him to open a special track for women with a focus on show jumping and with female trainers on hand. He added that, despite its long history in the region, equestrianism is now seen as a modern sport that has captivated young men and women alike. In Saudi culture, he said, it symbolizes courage, pride, beauty, strength, heroism and authenticity.

The sport also enhances self-confidence, teaches patience and endurance, and provides numerous psychological and physical benefits to its enthusiasts, he added.

The Tabuk region is currently hosting a foundation training course for the sport of preliminary tent pegging, organized by the Saudi Equestrian Federation. The 15-day course, held at the Al-Thunayanh stable, has attracted about 30 riders of various ages, both male and female.

The training course aims to promote the sport in Saudi society and encourage its practice among horse riding enthusiasts regardless of gender, the SPA said in its report.

The course includes a theoretical part that educates participants on the key regulations and laws of tent pegging. The practical part focuses on training techniques and skills in using spears and swords in various approved competitions.

Participants who complete the training will be awarded certificates by the federation in collaboration with the Leaders Development Institute.