British ambassador embraces Islam, performs Haj

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British Ambassador Simon Collis and his wife Huda Mujarkech before embarking on the pilgrimage. Photo via @fawziah1
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In this tweet in Arabic, Simon Collis says: “I have converted to Islam after being in Muslim societies for 30 years, and right before getting married to Huda.”
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British Ambassador Simon Collis in ihram at the Grand Mosque in Makkah. Photo via @fawziah1
Updated 15 September 2016

British ambassador embraces Islam, performs Haj

MINA: Among the 19,000 British pilgrims performing Haj this year was British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Simon Paul Collis and his wife Huda Mujarkech.
It was known to some diplomats and journalists that he had embraced Islam but there had been no official word.
The confirmation came on Tuesday in the form of a tweet from Saudi writer and academic Fawziah Al-Bakr (@fawziah1).
She posted two photos of Ambassador Collis and his wife in which he was wearing ihram.
The ambassador replied to the post by thanking Al-Bakr via his official Twitter handle (@HMASimonCollis). The ambassador’s wife (@HudaMCollis) retweeted Al-Bakr’s post.
Though Collis refused media requests for interviews on Wednesday, he said: “I have converted to Islam after being in Muslim societies for 30 years, and right before getting married to Huda.”
Collis has served as British ambassador to Saudi Arabia since January last year when Sir John Jenkins retired from the diplomatic service. The photos went viral on Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, sending social media into overdrive.
Among the first who congratulated the ambassador and his wife was Princess Basmah bint Saud (@PrincessBasmah).
“Special congratulations to the ambassador and his wife,” wrote Princess Basmah.
“Thank you, Princess Basmah,” replied the ambassador.
British pilgrims were pleasantly surprised by the news.
“I would like to congratulate the ambassador on the historic occasion of his completion of Haj,” said Rashid Mogradia, CEO of the Council of British Hajis (CBHUK). “He is one of many thousands of British pilgrims to perform the journey of faith and we look forward to him sharing his experience and inspiring us all,” Mogradia added.
At a time when there is so much adverse publicity against Islam and Muslims, especially in the West, the ambassador’s embrace of Islam was seen by the faithful as a vindication of the religion’s universal appeal. 
Collis speaks fluent Arabic. He joined the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in 1978 and, after studying Arabic, has served mainly in the Arab world.
A father of five children, his first posting was to Bahrain as second secretary (1981-1984). He served as British ambassador to Iraq (2012-2014), Syria (2007-2012) and Qatar (2005-2007). He was the British consul-general in Dubai (2000-2004) and in Basra (2004-2005). He also served in New Delhi as first secretary from 1991 to 1994.


Four Saudi students to compete at international science and engineering fair

Updated 35 min ago

Four Saudi students to compete at international science and engineering fair

  • Intel ISEF is the world’s largest pre-college science competition
  • The four women from Jeddah were winners at the Kingdom’s National Olympiad for Scientific Creativity

RIYADH: Four Saudi students will represent the Kingdom at a major international science and engineering fair in the US later this year.

The four women from Jeddah were winners at the Kingdom’s National Olympiad for Scientific Creativity. They will be competing against more than 1,700 students from 77 countries at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) for more than $5 million in awards and scholarships.

The Saudi students traveling to Arizona in May are Dan Mohammed Al-Yafei and Tharaa Tariq Al-Dabbagh, who won an award at the olympiad in the field of science and the environment, and Lana Fahd Al-Abbasi and Zeina Tariq Maimani, who won in the field of physics and astronomy.

Intel ISEF is the world’s largest pre-college science competition and is an opportunity for young minds around the world to share ideas and showcase cutting-edge projects.

Intel ISEF says the winners are selected on their creative ability, scientific thought, as well as the thoroughness, skill and clarity shown in their projects.

Former Intel ISEF participant Wud Al-Saadoon won first place in the finals of the Kingdom’s National Olympiad for Scientific Creativity after working extensively on her project. She discovered her passion for science when she was in third grade, passing all aptitude tests for elementary, intermediate and high school and registering in Mawhiba enrichment programs starting from elementary school to high school.

“These programs allow students to enrol temporarily in a Saudi university,” she told Arab News. “This is how I participated as a high school student in the second olympiad program before I enrolled at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals.”

She specialized in renewable chemical energy and made a special device which won her third place in a local competition.

She then qualified for Intel ISEF, where she won fourth place in the field of chemical energy last year.