Muslim pilgrims converge at Mount Arafat for daylong worship as Hajj reaches its peak

Muslim pilgrims converge at Mount Arafat for daylong worship as Hajj reaches its peak
Muslim pilgrims gather at top of the rocky hill known as the Mountain of Mercy, on the Plain of Arafat, during the annual Hajj pilgrimage, near the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Saturday, June 15, 2024. (AP)
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Updated 15 June 2024
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Muslim pilgrims converge at Mount Arafat for daylong worship as Hajj reaches its peak

Muslim pilgrims converge at Mount Arafat for daylong worship as Hajj reaches its peak
  • Hajj officially started Friday when pilgrims moved from Makkah’s Grand Mosque to Mina
  • Saudi authorities expect the number of pilgrims this year to exceed 2 million

MOUNT ARAFAT, Saudi Arabia: Following the footsteps of prophets beneath a burning sun, Muslims from around the world congregated Saturday at a sacred hill in Saudi Arabia for intense, daylong worship and reflection.
The ritual at Mount Arafat, known as the hill of mercy, is considered the peak of the Hajj pilgrimage. It is often the most memorable for pilgrims, who stand shoulder to shoulder, feet to feet, asking God for mercy, blessings, prosperity and good health. The mount is about 20 kilometers (12 miles) southeast of Makkah.
It’s believed that Prophet Muhammad delivered his final speech, known as the Farewell Sermon, at the sacred mount 1,435 years ago. In the sermon, the prophet called for equality and unity among Muslims.
“It’s indescribable,” Ahmed Tukeyia, an Egyptian pilgrim, said on his arrival Friday evening at a tent camp at the foot of Mount Arafat.




Muslim pilgrims gather at top of the rocky hill known as the Mountain of Mercy, on the Plain of Arafat, during the annual Hajj pilgrimage, near the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Saturday, June 15, 2024.  (AP)


Hajj is one of the largest religious gatherings on earth. The rituals officially started Friday when pilgrims moved from Makkah’s Grand Mosque to Mina, a desert plain just outside the city.
Saudi authorities expect the number of pilgrims this year to exceed 2 million, approaching pre-coronavirus pandemic levels.
The pilgrimage is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. All Muslims are required to make the five-day Hajj at least once in their lives if they are physically and financially able to make the demanding pilgrimage.

GALLERY: Hajj 2024: Muslims converge at Mount Arafat as pilgrimage reaches peak
The rituals largely commemorate the Qur’an’s accounts of Prophet Ibrahim, his son Prophet Ismail and Ismail’s mother Hajjar — or Abraham and Ismael as they are named in the Bible.
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 (104 Fahrenheit). The Health Ministry has cautioned that temperatures at the holy sites could reach 48 C (118 F). It urged pilgrims to use umbrellas and drink more water to stay hydrated.




Muslim pilgrims arrive at the Mountain of Mercy, on the Plain of Arafat, during the annual Hajj pilgrimage, near the holy city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia, Saturday, June 15, 2024. (AP)


After Saturday’s worship in Arafat, pilgrims will travel a few kilometers (miles) 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.
Once the Hajj is over, men are expected to shave their heads, and women to snip a lock of hair in a sign of renewal. Most of the pilgrims then leave Makkah for the city of Medina, some 340 kilometers (210 miles) away, to pray in Prophet Muhammad’s tomb, the Sacred Chamber. The tomb is part of the prophet’s mosque, which is one of the three holiest sites in Islam, along with the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
In recent years, Saudi authorities have made significant efforts to improve access and avoid deadly accidents. Tens of thousands of security personnel were deployed across the city, especially around the holy sites, to control the crowds, and the government built a high-speed rail link to ferry people between holy sites in the city, which has been jammed with traffic during the Hajj season. Pilgrims enter through special electronic gates.
Saudi authorities have also expanded and renovated the Grand Mosque where cranes are seen around some of its seven minarets as construction was underway in the holy site.


Gaza is worst human catastrophe in modern history, Saudi envoy tells UN Security Council

Gaza is worst human catastrophe in modern history, Saudi envoy tells UN Security Council
Updated 17 July 2024
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Gaza is worst human catastrophe in modern history, Saudi envoy tells UN Security Council

Gaza is worst human catastrophe in modern history, Saudi envoy tells UN Security Council
  • Abdulaziz Alwasil says it is a sign of a broken world order caused by ‘some major powers’ putting their own interests ahead of UN’s founding principles
  • The organization is ‘shackled with procedures and rules that allow a small number of states to control the destiny of helpless peoples and countries,’ he adds

NEW YORK CITY: The global order is in one of the most dangerous phases it has experienced since the end of the Cold War, Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to the UN said on Tuesday.

Abdulaziz Alwasil blamed this on “some major powers” putting their own interests ahead of the principles on which the UN was built, as a result of which the organization is unable to uphold its responsibilities because its agencies and mechanisms are “shackled with procedures and rules that allow a small number of states to control the destiny of helpless peoples and countries.”

Speaking during a meeting of the Security Council, Alwasil said: “The blatant violations being perpetrated against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip are a prime example of the inaction of the current global order and the failure of its most important body, tasked with the maintenance of international peace and security, to fulfill the hopes that have been pinned on it.”

This, he added, has allowed “the Israeli war machine to kill and injure thousands of Palestinians without accountability or deterrence, so that the world stands witness to the worst human catastrophe of our modern history.”

In recent years the world has seen a growing number of increasingly severe crises, Alwasil said, and so it is more important than ever that a new multilateral system be established that is more fair, more cohesive, and has more effective mechanisms to help establish peace and security.

“We’re currently witnessing a phase of a transition to a new multilateral global order, whose features have not solidified yet,” he added.

“This requires us all to enhance our joint and global efforts to protect ourselves from the dangers of conflict and war, especially as we see increasing signs of fragmentation in policy and economics and digitization, and as we see increasing fears of nuclear annihilation and world war three.”

The pursuit of peace and security is the founding principle of the UN, Alwasil said, and he vowed that Saudi Arabia would continue to strive to achieve “the goals or purposes of the United Nations and the maintenance of international peace and security.”

He underscored the important need for “comprehensive reforms” of the Security Council and other UN bodies to better enable them “to perform their duties effectively and in accordance with the principles of the organization, international law and international humanitarian law.”

More than 50 states, including Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait, attended the high-level Security Council open debate, titled “Multilateral cooperation in the interest of a more just, democratic and sustainable world order.”


Saudi crown prince receives US senator Chris Van Hollen 

Saudi crown prince receives US senator Chris Van Hollen 
Updated 17 July 2024
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Saudi crown prince receives US senator Chris Van Hollen 

Saudi crown prince receives US senator Chris Van Hollen 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received in Jeddah on Tuesday visiting Senator Chris Van Hollen, a member of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and his accompanying delegation.

The meeting discussed bilateral relations and cooperation, in addition to issues of mutual interest, the Saudi Press Agency said.

Saudi Minister of Defense Prince Khalid bin Salman, National Security Adviser Musaed Al-Aiban, and US ambassador to the Kingdom Michael Ratney attended the meeting.


Saudi Cabinet reiterates calls for immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza

Saudi Cabinet reiterates calls for immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza
Updated 16 July 2024
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Saudi Cabinet reiterates calls for immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza

Saudi Cabinet reiterates calls for immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza
  • Cabinet session was headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
  • Stressed need to activate international accountability mechanisms regarding continued Israeli violations

RIYADH: The Saudi Cabinet on Tuesday condemned the “continued genocidal massacres” against the Palestinian people amid Israel’s battle with Hamas in Gaza, Saudi Press Agency reported.

During Tuesday’s session, which was headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Cabinet also renewed calls for an immediate and permanent ceasefire and for providing protection for civilians in the occupied Palestinian territories, SPA added. 

It also stressed the need to activate international accountability mechanisms regarding the continued Israeli violations of international humanitarian law and international legitimacy resolutions.

The Cabinet reviewed recent meetings between Saudi and regional and international officials and stressed the importance of strengthening the existing international system to be a “strong fortress against chaos and conflicts,” as well as the need to provide a “framework for cooperation and peaceful coexistence between countries, in light of the challenges and crises the world is witnessing,” SPA reported.


Have a sunkissed and safe summer

Excessive sun exposure can cause collagen and elastin in the skin to break down, leading to wrinkles, age spots, and sagging.
Excessive sun exposure can cause collagen and elastin in the skin to break down, leading to wrinkles, age spots, and sagging.
Updated 16 July 2024
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Have a sunkissed and safe summer

Excessive sun exposure can cause collagen and elastin in the skin to break down, leading to wrinkles, age spots, and sagging.
  • Experts advise on how you can get that golden glow and save your skin from damage, cancer

RIYADH: As the summertime rolls in, recreational tanning becomes a popular trend among young Saudi men and women who seek a sunkissed glow all year-round. Despite the allure of a bronzed complexion, the dangers associated with recreational tanning cannot be overlooked, especially if one skips applying sunscreen.

Jumana Ghassan, 25, told Arab News that she remains steadfast in her belief that sunscreen will get in the way of a proper bronze tan.

“I never use sunscreen when I tan, which is something I do every weekend, because I believe SPF does not allow me to get a golden and glowy tan.”

Excessive sun exposure can cause collagen and elastin in the skin to break down, leading to wrinkles, age spots, and sagging. (Supplied)

She is convinced that by skipping this vital step in her skincare routine, she will achieve a deeper, more even tan.

Sun exposure is the number one cause of skin cancer, with cases increasing in Saudi Arabia because of the high levels of sunlight throughout the year.   

According to research conducted at King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences in 2020, the two most common types of skin cancer in Saudi Arabia are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, making up 51.4 percent and 22.5 percent of cases respectively.

The proper amount of sunscreen for the face is equivalent to two-finger lengths. (Supplied)

While sunlight exposure has some benefits, exposure to ultraviolet, or UV, radiation from tanning beds or the sun can have detrimental effects on the skin.

Oncology specialist at King’s College Hospital London in Jeddah, Dr. Ali Al-Bayer, told Arab News: “Prolonged exposure to UV rays can damage the DNA in skin cells, leading to potential mutations and abnormal cell growth.”

HIGHLIGHTS

• Sun exposure is the number one cause of skin cancer, with cases increasing in Saudi Arabia because of the high levels of sunlight throughout the year.   

• While sunlight exposure has some benefits, exposure to ultraviolet, or UV, radiation from tanning beds or the sun can have detrimental effects on the skin.

This damage is cumulative over time and increases the risk of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer, he added.

Sunscreen should be applied generously to all exposed areas of skin, including the face, neck, arms, legs, and even the scalp. (Supplied)

Al-Bayer said that it was crucial to try to avoid direct sunlight from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Dermatologist Dr. Fatima Al-Satouf told Arab News that sunscreen acted as a barrier, shielding the skin from the sun’s rays and preventing damage.

“Overexposure to the sun’s harmful rays can lead to the breakdown of collagen and elastin in the skin, resulting in wrinkles, age spots and sagging,” she explained.

The proper amount of sunscreen for the face is equivalent to two-finger lengths. (Supplied)

She added that by applying sunscreen regularly and correctly, people could significantly reduce their risk of skin damage and premature aging caused by sun exposure.

Sunscreen should be applied generously to all exposed areas of skin, including the face, neck, arms, legs, and even the scalp.

Al-Bayer said that in nearly all cases, skin cancer appeared in areas that were most exposed to the sun.

Sunscreen should be applied generously to all exposed areas of skin, including the face, neck, arms, legs, and even the scalp. (Supplied)

“It is important to choose a sunscreen with a high SPF (sun protection factor) and broad spectrum coverage to ensure maximum protection against both UVA and UVB rays,” he said.

Al-Bayer said that the use of sunscreen should be combined with other sun-safe practices, such as seeking shade during peak sun hours and avoiding unnecessary sun exposure.

Consulting with a dermatologist for skin checks and advice on sunscreen use can further enhance a sun protection regimen.

Sunscreen should be applied generously to all exposed areas of skin, including the face, neck, arms, legs, and even the scalp. (Supplied)

“Regularly checking your skin for signs of sun damage, like freckles, moles, or sunspots, can help detect potential issues early on,” Al-Bayer said.

Al-Satouf said that it was recommended to apply sunscreen at least 20 minutes before going outside to allow time for it to be absorbed into the skin.

“Reapplying sunscreen every two hours, especially after swimming or sweating, is crucial to maintain its effectiveness.”

Al-Satouf added that the proper amount of sunscreen for the face is equivalent to two-finger lengths.

In addition to sunscreen, wearing protective clothing, such as hats, sunglasses and long-sleeved shirts, can further shield the skin from sun exposure.

Resorting to tanning beds is dangerous as they emit concentrated UV radiation that can be even more damaging than natural sunlight.

In fact, indoor tanning before the age of 35 increases the risk of melanoma by 59 percent, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

To achieve a tan while minimizing the risk of sun damage, there are several strategies that individuals can adopt.

Rasha Al-Ghamdi told Arab News: “After a skin cancer scare, I opted to use spray tan to get my desired shade, and my skin has never felt this healthy and supple.”

Self-tanning products and spray tans offer a safer alternative to traditional sunbathing or tanning beds.

These products can help to achieve a sun-kissed glow without the damaging effects of UV radiation.

It is important to choose self-tanning products that contain safe and effective ingredients and to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application and maintenance.

Young people must prioritize their skin health and take measures to protect themselves from the dangers of recreational tanning.

By promoting sun-safe practices and embracing natural beauty, we can work toward a healthier and more inclusive beauty culture for all.

 


Kernels of promise in Asir as farmers ready for summer harvest

Kernels of promise in Asir as farmers ready for summer harvest
Updated 16 July 2024
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Kernels of promise in Asir as farmers ready for summer harvest

Kernels of promise in Asir as farmers ready for summer harvest
  • Time running out as annual summer rains loom
  • Crops are of superior quality, quantity this year

RIYADH: As the summer rains loom, farmers in Saudi Arabia’s Sarawat Mountains of Asir are in a race against time to bring in their wheat harvest.

This year’s crop is notable for both its abundance and superior quality, the Saudi Press Agency reported recently.

The wheat-cultivation cycle in Asir, which begins in February and spans five to six months, culminates in the traditional harvest known as Al-Sareem.

The wheat cultivation cycle in Asir, which begins in February and spans five to six months, culminates in the traditional harvest known as Al-Sareem. (SPA)

While some farmers still employ time-honored harvesting methods using sickles, many have embraced modern machinery, including large harvesters and handheld devices.

“Our terraced fields yield a variety of grains,” Issa Al-Waymani, a local farmer, told the SPA. “Besides different wheat varieties, we also grow barley and white and yellow corn.”

He highlighted the diverse grain production of Asir’s terraces. The region’s various types of wheat include Al-Seeb, Al-Mabia, Al-Qiyad and Al-Sumeira.

The wheat cultivation cycle in Asir, which begins in February and spans five to six months, culminates in the traditional harvest known as Al-Sareem. (SPA)

“We know it is time to harvest when the ears turn yellow and reach full maturity,” Al-Waymani said regarding the wheat-harvesting process. After harvesting, the crops are transported to designated threshing areas known locally as Al-Jareen.

Al-Waymani said these threshing grounds have evolved over time. “Traditionally, cattle or camels would drag a large stone weighing over 100 kg over the crop to separate the grains from their husks, called Al-Hatha,” he said.

FASTFACTS

• While some farmers in Asir still employ time-honored harvesting methods using sickles, many have embraced modern machinery.

• Asir’s farmers take great care to protect their crops from birds and monkeys until the harvest is complete.

Today, however, modern methods have largely replaced these traditional practices. “Now we use large harvesters or smaller machines operated by agricultural tractors,” Al-Waymani added. “We manually feed the crop into these machines after it has been sun-dried for at least 14 days.”

The wheat cultivation cycle in Asir, which begins in February and spans five to six months, culminates in the traditional harvest known as Al-Sareem. (SPA)

The region’s wheat production is concentrated along the Sarawat mountain range, from Dhahran Al-Janub in the south to Balqarn in the north, the report explained.

Areas including Al-Soudah, Tabab, Billahmer and Billasmar are renowned for producing the highest quality grains in the region for traditional local markets and the summer festivals in Asir.

Asir’s farmers take great care to protect their crops from birds and monkeys until the harvest is complete. After threshing and winnowing, the crop is weighed for Zakat purposes before being marketed.

The wheat cultivation cycle in Asir, which begins in February and spans five to six months, culminates in the traditional harvest known as Al-Sareem. (SPA)

Wheat remains one of the most sought-after crops in local markets, with prices ranging from $106 to $160 for a 50 kg bag.

Scientific studies have highlighted the nutritional benefits of this local wheat, which is packed with essential fatty acids, folic acid, B-complex vitamins, and fiber.

The produce is also thought to lower cholesterol and aid digestion, the SPA report stated.