Deputy governor of Makkah region hands over Kaaba Kiswa to gatekeeper

The Kaaba’s Kiswa was handed over to the gatekeeper of the holy site on Monday. (SPA)
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The Kaaba’s Kiswa was handed over to the gatekeeper of the holy site on Monday. (SPA)
The Kaaba’s Kiswa was handed over to the gatekeeper of the holy site on Monday. (SPA)
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The Kaaba’s Kiswa was handed over to the gatekeeper of the holy site on Monday. (SPA)
The Kaaba’s Kiswa was handed over to the gatekeeper of the holy site on Monday. (SPA)
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The Kaaba’s Kiswa was handed over to the gatekeeper of the holy site on Monday. (SPA)
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Updated 17 June 2024
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Deputy governor of Makkah region hands over Kaaba Kiswa to gatekeeper

The Kaaba’s Kiswa was handed over to the gatekeeper of the holy site on Monday. (SPA)
  • The hand-over was signed off by Minister of Hajj and Umrah Tawfiq Al-Rabiah and the deputy chief gatekeeper Abdul Malik bin Taha Al-Shaibi

RIYADH: The deputy governor of the Makkah Region Prince Saud bin Mishal bin Abdulaziz handed over the Kaaba’s Kiswa to the gatekeeper of the holy site on Monday, Saudi Press Agency reported.

The hand-over was signed off by Minister of Hajj and Umrah Tawfiq Al-Rabiah and the deputy chief gatekeeper Abdul Malik bin Taha Al-Shaibi.

The Kaaba will be adorned with its new Kiswa on Muharram 1, the stat of the new Islamic year.


Bahrain king receives speaker of Saudi Shoura Council

King Hamad receives Saudi Shoura Council Speaker Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Ibrahim Al Al-Sheikh at Al-Safriya Palace.
King Hamad receives Saudi Shoura Council Speaker Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Ibrahim Al Al-Sheikh at Al-Safriya Palace.
Updated 22 sec ago
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Bahrain king receives speaker of Saudi Shoura Council

King Hamad receives Saudi Shoura Council Speaker Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Ibrahim Al Al-Sheikh at Al-Safriya Palace.
  • King Hamad expressed appreciation for King Salman’s efforts to strengthen the historical ties between their kingdoms

RIYADH: Bahrain’s King Hamad received Saudi Shoura Council Speaker Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Ibrahim Al Al-Sheikh at Al-Safriya Palace in Manama on Thursday.

The king praised the deep-rooted relations between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and the high level of close cooperation and mutual coordination achieved on all fronts to fulfil the interests and aspirations of the two countries, Saudi Press Agency reported.

He also expressed appreciation for King Salman’s efforts to strengthen the historical ties between the two kingdoms.

The king commended the instrumental role of Saudi Arabia’s Shoura Council and Bahrain’s Council of Representatives and Shoura Council in bolstering relations and supporting development in the two countries.

The king also welcomed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Bahraini Council of Representatives and the Saudi Shoura Council, which aims to expand and strengthen cooperation frameworks, exchange expertise and experiences at the legislative and parliamentary levels, and coordinate positions taken at various regional and international parliamentary forums.


Hail locals relish ancient, nutrition-rich dish on special occasions

Hail locals relish ancient, nutrition-rich dish on special occasions
Updated 1 min 55 sec ago
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Hail locals relish ancient, nutrition-rich dish on special occasions

Hail locals relish ancient, nutrition-rich dish on special occasions
  • Khalea is mostly lamb fat, needs careful preparation
  • Bedouin communities used it for energy in the past

RIYADH: Residents of Hail are known to enjoy a local dish, khalea, on special occasions and especially during winter because of its nutritious and calorie-rich properties.

Consisting largely of lamb fat, khalea requires tedious and lengthy preparation before it can be consumed.

Manifa Ali, a resident of Hail, told Arab News that the fat is cut into small pieces and yoghurt added as a marinade.

It is then slow-cooked over a low flame, which requires constant stirring so the fat does not burn. As the fat dissolves, the mixture is filtered, and the process is repeated multiple times until it is free of all impurities.

Turmeric can be added for color, and the fat is then fried carefully until crispy, said Ali.

It can then be enjoyed with bread or rice-based dishes.

Sarah Mohammed, another resident, said that making khalea requires “continuous practice and extreme precision because any delay in stirring the fat may lead to it being burned.”

Mohammed’s sister, Nora, enjoys eating the khalea like popcorn while watching TV.

Munif Ali, who lives with his family in a remote area east of Hail, said that khalea has ancient roots, harking back to a time when people did not have electricity.

In the past, local Bedouin communities extracted oil from sheep fat as a source of energy.


Saudi Arabia rejects, condemns Israeli security minister’s visit to Al-Aqsa Mosque compound

Israel’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir speaks at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem on July 17, 2024. (AFP)
Israel’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir speaks at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem on July 17, 2024. (AFP)
Updated 18 July 2024
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Saudi Arabia rejects, condemns Israeli security minister’s visit to Al-Aqsa Mosque compound

Israel’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir speaks at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem on July 17, 2024. (AFP)
  • The Kingdom’s Foreign Ministry also condemned an Israeli parliament vote to oppose a Palestinian state
  • Continuing and hostile practices toward Islamic sacred sites and international resolutions demonstrate the aggressive approach of Israeli authorities, ministry said

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia condemned and rejected in the strongest terms on Thursday a visit made by Israel’s far-right national security minister to Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site.

Itamar Ben-Gvir, an ultranationalist settler leader, said he had gone up to the Jerusalem hilltop compound of Al-Aqsa Mosque to pray for the return of Israeli hostages on Thursday.

The Kingdom’s Foreign Ministry also condemned an Israeli parliament vote to oppose a Palestinian state.

The 120-member Knesset late on Wednesday passed by 68 votes to nine a resolution that said a Palestinian state on land occupied by Israel would “perpetuate the Israel-Palestinian conflict and destabilize the region.”

These continuing and hostile practices toward Islamic sacred sites and international regulations and resolutions demonstrate the aggressive approach of Israeli authorities, the ministry said. 

The ministry added that these practices prevent the achievement of any progress aimed at sparing the blood of innocent people and achieving a just and comprehensive peace. 

Earlier on Thursday, the Palestinian Foreign Ministry condemned Ben-Gvir’s visit as a “provocative intrusion” that endangered the fragile status quo regarding the Jerusalem hilltop compound.


Saudi Arabia sets new tourism record

Saudi Arabia sets new tourism record
Updated 18 July 2024
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Saudi Arabia sets new tourism record

Saudi Arabia sets new tourism record
  • Record 60 million tourists spent a total of SR143 billion in the first half of 2024
  • Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb: Our country is blessed with a multiplicity of tourist destinations and climate diversity

ABHA: A record 60 million tourists to Saudi Arabia during the first half of 2024 spent a total of SR143 billion ($38.1 billion), Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb has announced.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, the minister highlighted the significant advances made by both the Kingdom and its tourism industry which have resulted in such a notable achievement.

“Our country is blessed with a multiplicity of tourist destinations and climate diversity, (as well as) the moderate weather that the Aseer region enjoys during the summer season and low temperatures compared to most cities in the world,” he said.

Al-Khateeb added that visitors could enjoy diverse attractions, from historic villages to farms rich in local products, along with delicious cuisine telling stories of the past.

The third Aseer Season — which will run until Sept. 1 — is ready to make its mark on the region, with renowned locations set to provide rich cultural experiences for visitors.

Known as the cultural hub of Saudi Arabia, Aseer boasts a range of attractions in Abha such as Rijal Alma and Shada Palace Museum. A key landmark is Soudah Peaks, a sustainable luxury mountain destination standing 3,015 meters above sea level — the highest point in the Kingdom.

Al-Khateeb said the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 had strengthened the tourism sector through the launch of the National Tourism Strategy in 2019 and a tourist visa. He also spoke about the launch of the Bachelor of International Hospitality Management program, a partnership between the Ministry of Tourism, King Khalid University, and Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

“Our goal is to develop tourism capabilities and expand international specialized technical colleges and strategic partnership institutes in the field of tourism and hospitality,” he said.

Al-Khateeb said 10,000 training opportunities both inside and outside the Kingdom would be allocated to those working in the Aseer region’s tourism sector.

The National Tourism Strategy aims to reach over 150 million local and international tourists by 2030. In 2023, it reached 109 million.

Al-Khateeb added: “The Tourism Development Fund plays an important role in providing financing, allocating SR7.4 billion to enable over 100 tourism projects around the Kingdom with a value exceeding SR35 billion.”


Saudi MMA fighters make waves in world of combat sport

Saudi MMA fighters make waves in world of combat sport
Updated 18 July 2024
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Saudi MMA fighters make waves in world of combat sport

Saudi MMA fighters make waves in world of combat sport
  • Al-Saif and Al-Qahtani reflect on their career journeys

RIYADH: Two trailblazing Saudi mixed martial arts fighters making waves in the Professional Fighters League praised the development of the sport in the Kingdom.

Hattan Al-Saif and Abdullah Al-Qahtani, the most recent guests on “The Mayman Show” by Arab News, recalled their journeys in the world of combat sports.

“Combat sports were unknown in Saudi Arabia, but thanks to the Ministry of Sports, everyone was really pushing, pushing in different ways in Saudi Arabia to develop the sports in a really good way,” Al-Saif said. “We have Saudi games ... we have a lot of tournaments, I’m really proud to be Saudi and I feel like I’m prouder day by day for being a sports person from Saudi in Saudi.”

Al-Saif, 22, a pioneering female fighter, has already made history with her gold-medal win at the 2023 International Federation of Muay Thai Associations World Championships.

Professional fighter Al-Qahtani said: “When I got the contract I was the first in Saudi Arabia, and then I go there and have a good record and … you know, they love it, and they gave me more of what I need,” he said.

“They push me to be the best, and now I’m in the league, I’m in the PFL MENA League, before it was just two or three fights on the global (stage).”

Of his PFL victories, Al-Qahtani said the contests “made me like a star, because the fights were crazy, and I did something no one can do, you know.”

Both fighters agree that their trailblazing efforts should make the Kingdom proud.

“I’m gonna represent the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. And it’s not an easy country to represent and they’re not easy people to make them satisfied with what you are doing. But I’m quite sure that I’m a good person to do it, and I am so proud to be this person to do it,” Al-Saif said. “So, I’m always pushing myself. I’m always doing the best.”

She added that she is glad to have Al-Qahtani and others who support her.

“I have my team, I have my coach. And also half of Saudi Arabia are in love with me and they are helping me and they are pushing me,” she said. “I see a lot of comments. I see a lot of DMs. I see a lot of messages of Saudi people telling me they believe in me. They are proud of me.”

Al-Qahtani said much of his success is down to the influence of his mother.

“My mom, you know, she wanted me to be a world champion, but which sport? We didn’t know. Just a world champion, in a combat sport.”

Besides combat sports he said he also likes extreme sports such as dirt biking.

“But, when I grew up, I liked Muay Thai, MMA … kickboxing. I know what this sport is, this is a combat sport. I just saw my mom who wanted to push me. I needed to be a world champion … and so, yeah, I just started that.”

At PFL MENA 2 on July 12, when Al-Saif beat Egypt’s Eman Baraka at Riyadh’s Green Halls Auditorium, she had Al-Qahtani, currently the Kingdom’s biggest MMA star, in her corner.