Nigerian pilgrims barred from bringing kola nut during Haj

NO ENTRY: The kola nut is a caffeine-based edible seed and is often used by Nigerians to show as a gesture of friendship and warmth.
Updated 14 July 2016

Nigerian pilgrims barred from bringing kola nut during Haj

RIYADH: Nigerian pilgrims have been asked not to bring kola nuts during the Haj this year.
Issuing the guidelines for Haj 2016, the Kingdom has notified Nigerian authorities to ban the carrying of kola nuts by pilgrims during the annual pilgrimage.
Confirming this, the National Haj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), in a statement issued on Tuesday said, “the commission received a circular from the Saudi authorities prohibiting the import of kola nuts into the Kingdom during this year’s Haj.”
“All those who intend to perform Haj are therefore advised to adhere strictly to the Saudi rules and regulations on prohibited items,” NAHCON said.
Moreover, the Nigerian Haj commission has also urged Muslim Pilgrim Welfare Boards (MPWB) and licensed tour operators to properly educate pilgrims to avoid penal actions on those found in violation of the instruction on smuggling kola nut. Violators will be punished in accordance with the laws of the Kingdom.
This caffeine-based edible seed, the kola nut, is usually known as “Goro” and “oji” and often used ceremonially by Nigerians to show a gesture of friendship and warmth; it is also used in the production of beverage and energy drinks.
Moreover, orientation and educative sessions are organized aimed at educating the pilgrims on all aspects of the Haj operations ranging from Haj rites, public transportation system, morals and manners during the Haj, new policies introduced for this year’s Haj by Saudi authorities, policies adopted by NAHCON, and Saudi rules and regulations to be followed during the stay in the Kingdom.
The commission made medical screening mandatory for pilgrims last year to qualify them to travel for their once-in-a-lifetime journey to the two holy cities of Makkah and Madinah.
Notably, about 70,000 Nigerian pilgrims perform Haj every year.


‘Dare to dream,’ football hero Thierry Henry tells Saudi fans

Footballing great Thierry Henry thrills fans as he signs 10 footballs on stage and tosses them to the audience. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 6 min 4 sec ago

‘Dare to dream,’ football hero Thierry Henry tells Saudi fans

  • Fans got up close and personal with the former champion during a segment called the lightning round, where Henry had to answer questions in 10 seconds

DHAHRAN: Stepping onto the Tanween stage in front of a sold-out venue full of cheering fans, footballing great Thierry Henry was quick to say how “hyped” he was to meet his Saudi supporters.
As a guest and speaker at Tanween Season, the former Arsenal striker and French international faced a busy schedule on Saturday after arriving at King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) in Dhahran.
First, he had a “meet and greet” with fans, many wearing Arsenal shirts, which was quickly followed by a discussion of the theme for this year’s event, “Play.”
After two young footballers from Riyadh performed a series of tricks that included balancing a football on one leg, then kicking it in the air to land on their backs, Henry said: “I would have broken my back trying to do that. It’s not easy.”
On his second visit to Saudi Arabia — the first was to Riyadh last year — Henry said that he was impressed by this year’s Tanween theme since he had seen firsthand the results of a children’s quality-of-life program at Tanween.
“What I liked most was to see the smiles on the faces of those children when I was walking around the impressive building. Being able to dream is key for me, but seeing how the youngsters were interacting, and how happy they were with their families walking around, was just priceless,” he said.
Growing up, Henry’s father played an important role in his development. The footballer did not miss a beat when answering that his father was his idol. “My dad was the hardest man to please; to put a smile on his face was the hardest thing to do,” he said.
Although the footballer grew up in a “not so great” Paris neighborhood, he considered it an enriching cultural experience. “It was great for me at the time because it allowed me to travel, although I wasn’t really traveling,” he said.
France’s colonial history meant he was exposed to different cultures early in his life.
“If I going upstairs to have couscous, to the second floor to have Senegalese food, or to eat with the Portuguese downstairs, it allowed me to travel, staying where I was,” he explained.
During his talk Henry showed that his Arabic extends to common niceties such as “shukran,” “afwan” and “alsalamau alaikum.”
Having an impact on the English Premier League and his role in Arsenal’s record-breaking era almost two decades ago are more important to him that being considered the world’s best striker, he said. As for his favorite stadium, Henry was quick to choose Highbury.
Offering advice to younger Saudis in the audience, Henry urged them to face their problems calmly and cleverly.
“Don’t run away. Face it and don’t be scared to fail. Come back again, but smarter,” he said.
Fans got up close and personal with the former champion during a segment called the lightning round, where Henry had to answer questions in 10 seconds. That revealed that he has always admired Muhammad Ali as the greatest, Messi is his current favorite football player and winning the World Cup was the most memorable moment in his career.
After the talk, Henry thrilled the crowd — a reminder of his playing days — by tossing 10 footballs to lucky fans who cheered as he left the stage.