Hajj pilgrims arrive in Arafat, attend annual sermon

Special Hajj pilgrims arrive in Arafat, attend annual sermon
Amid strict security and health measures, this year’s Hajj pilgrims arrived in Arafat early Saturday morning, the ninth day of Dul Hijjah, and attended the annual Hajj sermon at Namirah Mosque. (AN Photo/Huda Bashatah)
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Updated 15 June 2024
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Hajj pilgrims arrive in Arafat, attend annual sermon

Hajj pilgrims arrive in Arafat, attend annual sermon
  • Pilgrims say they wish time could pause so they could continue praying on the most special day of Hajj
  • The Hajj sermon highlights that Shariah mandates 'justice and noble ethics' for all Muslims in the world

ARAFAT: Amid strict security and health measures, this year’s Hajj pilgrims arrived in Arafat early Saturday morning, the ninth day of Dul Hijjah, and attended the annual Hajj sermon at Namirah Mosque.

As the sun rose, pilgrims camping in the tent city of Mina performed dawn prayers, then began their journey to Arafat, where Prophet Muhammad gave his final sermon more than 144 decades ago. On Saturday, one could hear nothing louder than the crowd chanting supplications.

Ansarul-Haq Rasheed, a 63-year-old Indonesian pilgrim, expressed a heartfelt desire to pray to Allah for as long as possible.

“I wish time could pause so I could continue praying to Allah with all my heart,” he told Arab News. “These moments are unforgettable. I want to lay bare all my emotions to my creator, who knows everything. I seek His blessings for my needs in this life and the hereafter.”

 

 

Reflecting on the pilgrimage experience, he expressed gratitude for the services provided to pilgrims. He compared it with stories he had been told of his late father’s Hajj, some 45 years ago. “My mother shared the hardships my father faced during Hajj; I wish he could see how much more comfortable Hajj has become,” Rasheed said. 

Meanwhile, 49-year-old Khadija Yakoubi, a Moroccan pilgrim, anticipated a transformative experience from his pilgrimage.

“When all sins are forgiven, life inevitably changes for the better, leading to a renewed enjoyment. This feeling motivates pilgrims to continue doing good throughout their lives,” Yakoubi said, adding that the services pilgrims have received at the holy sites have been “exemplary.”

The Day of Arafat is the most important part of the Hajj — one of Islam’s five pillars; without it, a pilgrimage is not valid. Pilgrims typically combine and shorten the Dhuhr and Asr prayers before staying in Arafat until sunset. They then move on to Muzdalifah before returning to their tents in Mina.

Sheikh Maher bin Hamad Al-Muaiqly, one of the imams of the Grand Mosque, who delivered this year’s sermon, described Hajj as a “sincere act of worship for Allah.”

He urged pilgrims to seize “the great blessings” during their time in Arafat, reminding them that “in this honorable place and virtuous time, the Almighty multiplies his rewards” for their good deeds and forgives their sins.

In his sermon, Al-Muaiqly emphasized that Islam is a religion of peace and that Shariah “mandates justice, noble ethics, and kindness to parents, along with the importance of maintaining family ties, truthfulness in speech, and safeguarding rights to ensure they are rightfully upheld. It also emphasizes respect for contracts and encourages obedience to rightful authorities.”

He added that Shariah also emphasizes the obligation to obey the five central religious laws: safeguarding religion, and protecting the soul, the mind, one’s possessions, and one’s dignity — all important principles in Islamic jurisprudence and ethics, and, he said, guiding principles for the well-being and growth of individuals and society.

“Indeed, Shariah considers any transgression against these basics a crime deserving punishment. Furthermore, safeguarding these essentials is a path to entering paradise and attaining Allah’s satisfaction. It also serves as a key to stability, happiness, progress, and advancement in this world,” the imam said.


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.

 


Masam 7 continues Saudi Arabia’s support of Yemeni people

Ousama Al-Gosaibi. (Supplied)
Ousama Al-Gosaibi. (Supplied)
Updated 14 July 2024
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Masam 7 continues Saudi Arabia’s support of Yemeni people

Ousama Al-Gosaibi. (Supplied)
  • Al-Gosaibi said the project’s work strategy was built on strong foundations after extensive studies of the nature of the threat posed by mines of all kinds, in addition to Yemen’s complex terrain that requires concerted human and material efforts

RIYADH: The head of Saudi Arabia’s Project Masam, Ousama Al-Gosaibi, thanked and praised the Saudi leadership for the help and support provided to Yemen to eliminate the threat of mines and explosives.

As the Saudi aid agency KSrelief extends Masam’s contract for landmine clearance in Yemen for the seventh consecutive year, Al-Gosaibi said in a press statement that the project succeeded during the past six years in carrying out its humanitarian operations on Yemeni territory, achieving high performance rates in all its field operations.

He said this is considered a significant achievement based on international standards, with the total clearances between the project’s first day and the end of last week totalled 450,919 mines, unexploded ordnance and explosive devices.

Al-Gosaibi said the project’s work strategy was built on strong foundations after extensive studies of the nature of the threat posed by mines of all kinds, in addition to Yemen’s complex terrain that requires concerted human and material efforts.

He added that the project also took into consideration the ongoing military operations, planting of mines, and booby-trapping of land and civilian installations with all kinds of explosives by the Houthi militias.

He said the seventh year will be a continuation of what the project started in mid-2018, with a focus on localized work by intensifying training and logistical support.

 


Saudi National Water Co. implements 14 projects in Qassim

Saudi National Water Co. implements 14 projects in Qassim
Updated 14 July 2024
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Saudi National Water Co. implements 14 projects in Qassim

Saudi National Water Co. implements 14 projects in Qassim
  • The company explained that the environmental projects being implemented in the region include seven projects, with a total value of approximately SR283 million

RIYADH: The National Water Co., represented by its northern sector, has begun implementing 14 water and environmental projects in various parts of the Qassim region, with a total cost exceeding SR561 million ($149.56 million).

This aims to increase the coverage rates of water and environmental services, improve their quality, and meet the growing demand for these services.

The company explained that the environmental projects being implemented in the region include seven projects, with a total value of approximately SR283 million, featuring sewage lines and networks extending over 329,000 linear meters, in addition to the construction of a lifting station with a capacity of 1,350 cubic meters per day.

It further stated that the water projects currently being executed in Qassim also encompass seven projects with a total value exceeding SR278 million. These projects involve network and line extensions surpassing 833,000 linear meters, along with the implementation of the waterway system for the Al-Mukharram and Umm Hazm wells.