Radio has its history and legacy in the Kingdom

Updated 14 February 2013

Radio has its history and legacy in the Kingdom

As the World Radio Day was celebrated yesterday across the world, radio continues to evolve in the digital age and remains the medium that reaches the widest audience worldwide.
In the Kingdom, it is quite popular. The arrival of online radio stations has boosted its popularity even further. The history of radio in Saudi Arabia goes back to 1949 when airwaves were filled with the recitation of Holy Qur’an that won the heart of millions across the Kingdom. In earlier decades, large wooden box radios were confined to the elite. Later, transistor radios reached masses. Now, radio in Saudi Arabia has been completely reshaped by the various private players that entered the sector after the government opened up licenses to them.
In the new digital era, TV, cellular technology and social media dominate the field of information and entertainment. Yet radio stations in Saudi Arabia have persevered. Many broadcasters thought that the time for radio is over with the introduction of social media. However, the reality is quite different. Many listeners tune in to online radio stations nowadays. A large number of radio listeners tune in while driving. Broadcast experts say that radio listenership consists of more than 60 percent in vehicles. Over 70 percent of the listeners are men. The lions’ share of listeners is young.
Saudi Radio has a prominent role in the Kingdom. The station traditionally broadcasts Qur’an reading, Islamic lectures, news and entertainment. In 1994, MBC FM has made significant inroad into Saudi listeners.
In 2011 five new FM stations were allowed to operate that expect to have an audience of 25 million. All FM stations are targeting youth and offer a variety of info and entertainment programs.
As the number of stations grows and the competition stiffens, the content of a broadcast has become questionable with some broadcasters. The competition leads to attempts to monopolize music and barring others from broadcasting it. Saudi-based radio programs have received a wide acceptance, not only at home but also across the Arab world.
Though there is a wide range of choice available to Arabic listeners, English listeners have little choice in the Kingdom. Only a few stations offer broadcast services in English.
Radio Riyadh FM is popular with English listeners. Football-loving English speakers turn to the English service of Jeddah Radio. US Armed Forces Network is available on different frequencies and is largely appreciated for their Western music. Aramco’s FM also has a sizeable audience.
Many Asian expatriates living in central and eastern region also listen to the broadcast services of their choice from various stations in neighboring GCC countries.
Jeddah Radio’s Urdu service broadcasts in the afternoon and has a large following. The programs of Jeddah Radio are quite popular during Haj season, as the programs contain a variety of topics supported by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs. Saudi Radio broadcasts programs during Haj season in English, French, Urdu, Arabic, Bahasa Indonesia, Swahili, and Turkish. Programs in Urdu and Bahasa Indonesia remain the most popular due to the high influx of pilgrims from the subcontinent and Indonesia.
Apart from drivers, a vast majority of people who work in remote areas cannot access satellite television while at the job. They are also unable to read newspapers, so they depend on radio service. Print media reach an educated audience in an office environment. Radio reaches across deserts in all parts of Kingdom.


Worshippers flock to reopened Prophet’s Mosque for Friday prayers

Updated 06 June 2020

Worshippers flock to reopened Prophet’s Mosque for Friday prayers

MADINAH: Hundreds of thousands of worshippers attended the first Friday prayers to be held at the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah since the gatherings were suspended to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.

The green light for the resumption of the prayer meetings came as part of a plan to gradually reopen the Kingdom’s mosques while ensuring worshippers and visitors adhered to preventive measures.

A ban on access to the Rawdah remained in place and only groups of worshippers numbering up to a maximum of 40 percent of the mosque’s capacity were being allowed entry.

Precautionary measures also included the allocation of specific doors for the entry of worshippers, the installation of thermal cameras, removal of all carpets so that prayers could be performed on the marble, sanitization of the mosque’s floors and courtyards, periodic opening of domes and canopies to ventilate the mosque, and the removal of Zamzam water containers.

The Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah will be closed after evening prayers and reopened one hour before dawn prayers. Parking lots will operate at 50 percent capacity and a media awareness campaign has been launched to highlight safety procedures at the holy site.

Medical teams have also been stationed at the main entrances to the mosque in cooperation with the Ministry of Health.

Elsewhere in the Kingdom, worshippers also flocked to perform Friday prayers at mosques amid strict health measures.

On May 31, Saudi authorities reopened all mosques for prayers, except in Makkah, as part of the Kingdom’s plan for a gradual return to normal life.

Last week the minister of Islamic affairs, dawah and guidance said that the country’s mosques were ready to welcome back worshippers, following his field trips to check that necessary preparations had been made.

All worshippers must still maintain a distance of 2 meters between rows, wear masks to enter a mosque, and Friday sermons and prayers have been limited to a maximum of 15 minutes.