Makkah locals welcome blessings of the spiritual season

Residents of Makkah have historically played a crucial role in hosting and supporting the millions of Muslims who come to perform Hajj. (Supplied)
Residents of Makkah have historically played a crucial role in hosting and supporting the millions of Muslims who come to perform Hajj. (Supplied)
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Updated 18 June 2024
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Makkah locals welcome blessings of the spiritual season

Makkah locals welcome blessings of the spiritual season
  • Hajj invites millions to the holy city where locals show deep-rooted Saudi hospitality

RIYADH: During the sacred days of Hajj, Makkah witnesses an influx of pilgrims and locals themselves engage more fervently in Islamic practices such as prayer and fasting.

Sami Al-Alwani, a local citizen, enjoys the spiritual aspects of the pilgrimage and says the Hajj season is unlike any other month.

“This annual tradition of welcoming, joy and enthusiasm with which we receive the pilgrims of the House of God is passed down from generation to generation,” he told Arab News.




Muttawwif Wejdan Buqas with Malaysian pilgrims after Hajj. (Supplied)

The arrival of pilgrims also means a peak in economic activity and boost for local employment.

Al-Alwani added: “One significant economic aspect we notice is the full occupancy of hotels, leading to a noticeable economic boost in restaurants and services.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Locals of Makkah, including young men and women, volunteer through available programs to assist and guide pilgrims.

• The sacred time of Hajj also brings forth the deep- rooted compassion and friendliness that are hallmarks of the people of Makkah.

“We have numerous job opportunities during Hajj to assist pilgrims and work with them in Mina, Arafat, Muzdalifah and the train station. We also serve as their supervisors and assist them in completing their Hajj obligations. Many volunteers, including young men and women from Makkah, participate voluntarily through available programs.”




Residents of Makkah have historically played a crucial role in hosting and supporting the millions of Muslims who come to perform Hajj. (Supplied)

Al-Alwani added pilgrimage routes and traffic patterns in recent years had had no negative effects for Makkah’s population.

Wejdan Buqas is a female mutawwif — someone who leads pilgrims in the traditional rites and prayers of Hajj and Umrah — who says she used to offer to drive people to Mount Hira and other holy locations.

“Back in the 1980s, we used to greet pilgrims, let them stay in our homes, and transport them to the Al-Tanaim Mosque, Al-Maala Cemeteries, and Hira Mountain. We used to also take them to private, tiny museums that highlighted Makkah inhabitants’ customs, such as telling them about our Eid celebrations,” she said, adding such activities were now streamlined by the government.

Due to the high volume of pilgrims, nearby companies and service providers were set up to meet their needs by providing lodgings, transportation, medical care, and guidance. The sacred time of Hajj also brings forth the deep-rooted compassion and friendliness that are hallmarks of the people of Makkah.

Bakur Hemdi is a Makkah native from a long lineage of muttawifs, including his grandfather and father. He followed in their footsteps and took up the role when he was 21 years old.

“As a mutawwif, my role goes beyond just guiding the pilgrims through the rituals and ceremonies of Hajj and Umrah,” he said.

“I’m a cultural ambassador, helping them navigate the intricacies of Makkah’s landscape and ensuring they can fully immerse themselves in the spiritual journey they’ve come to undertake.”

He added: “Through my interactions with pilgrims from diverse backgrounds, I've gained a deep appreciation for the richness of their traditions and the shared devotion that unites them in their pursuit of spiritual enlightenment. I take great pride in upholding the legacy of my ancestors, while also adapting to the evolving needs of modern-day pilgrims.”   

Hayat Eid, who also comes from a family of mutawwifs, said everyone in Makkah mostly worked during Hajj or, if not, they traveled.

“We make a profit of a whole year during Hajj season, so many people will not miss that opportunity,” she said. “We also remark to each other, ‘Hajj wala dajj?’ which translates to ‘Are you working in Hajj or are you fleeing?’ which is a humorous statement.”  

She added many women participated by preparing treats like maamoul cookies and date cakes to share during Eid.

Every activity contributes to the Hajj season, a time of great spiritual significance and community engagement for the residents of Makkah who play a crucial role in hosting and supporting the millions of Muslims who come to perform this important religious duty.

 


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 37 min 45 sec ago
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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.