Eid holidaymakers head to Madinah and Jeddah

Eid holidaymakers head to Madinah and Jeddah
Updated 06 October 2014

Eid holidaymakers head to Madinah and Jeddah

Eid holidaymakers head to Madinah and Jeddah

Many citizens and residents are using the Eid holidays to spend time in Madinah and Jeddah.
Saudis have also gone to Dubai for the vacation, while expatriates have headed heading home to their loved ones.
In the downtown area of Balad in Jeddah, many bachelor expatriates were seen on Thursday taking taxis and Saudi Transport Company buses to their destinations.
However, sources said that many tour operators had canceled trips to Madinah because there was little accommodation available and a shortage of buses because of the Haj. Dhul Hijjah 1 to 10 are considered one of the peak holiday periods in the Kingdom.
Most expatriates prefer to stay close to the Prophet's Mosque on Qurban Road where furnished apartments and other informal operators charge between SR600 and SR700 for a room accommodating a family of four. This has been a 100 percent hike from SR300 before the holidays.
“A few weeks ago I rented two rooms for SR350 for a relative from Riyadh, but now I'm paying SR750,” said Rashid Puli, a social worker and long-term resident of Madinah.
Opposite the Prophet's Mosque in Abizar Street, owners of furnished apartments have also hiked their prices by 100 percent and are charging SR750 for a single room.
Many Asian expatriates who have been running accommodation businesses in the Sultana area will see their buildings demolished to make way for the expansion of the Prophet's Mosque.
Meanwhile, those heading to Jeddah can expect to find some entertainment and relaxation at the corniche.
The municipality has also made elaborate arrangements for Eid prayers at 247 musallahs and mosques in various locations in the city including the waterfront area. It has also cleaned up parks and other public areas for Eid.
“Eid is the only occasion that I can step out with my siblings and enjoy the atmosphere at a musallah,” said Reem Al-Ghamdi, a Saudi student.
“I really enjoy attending Eid prayers at these areas with my family,” said Nashra Rania, who is from India.
Noormian, a Bangladeshi expatriate, told Arab News that he would be celebrating by sacrificing, skinning and cleaning a sheep.
Mohammed Al-Boqmi, spokesperson of Jeddah Municipality, said that 6,000 workers would be deployed to clean public areas.
There would be Eid prayers at three mosques at the corniche. Fatima Zahra Mosque in North Obhur and Al-Anani mosque at the corniche are popular for Eid prayers.
The Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Call and Guidance in Jeddah has said that Eid sermons would be delivered at all the selected mosques and musallahs in the city. Talal Al-Aqeel, director of the ministry in Jeddah, said there would be Eid prayers at 42 musallahs.


Cirque du Soleil heads to Saudi in special one-off show

Cirque du Soleil heads to Saudi in special one-off show
Updated 11 September 2018

Cirque du Soleil heads to Saudi in special one-off show

Cirque du Soleil heads to Saudi in special one-off show
  • More than 80 artists will take the stage at the King Fahd International Stadium for the show
  • About 250 costumes have been specially made to respect local traditions

MONTREAL: Cirque du Soleil will stage a show in Saudi Arabia for the first time later this month, the high-flying acrobatic troupe announced Monday.
The show will take place in the Saudi capital on Sept. 23 to coincide with the country's national day, public relations director Marie-Helene Lagace told AFP.
More than 80 artists will take the stage at the King Fahd International Stadium for the show, which will also be shown on Saudi state television. Cirque says it will be one of its biggest one-off productions ever.
About 250 costumes have been specially made to respect local traditions and conform to "the artistic standards for which we are known," Lagace said.
The announcement of Cirque du Soleil's appearance in Saudi Arabia was first made in Los Angeles in April, Lagace noted. But it was unclear whether the show would go on given the diplomatic tensions.
At the behest of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia has reopened movie theaters and allowed women and men to attend some concerts together.


US-backed Syrian force declare victory over Daesh in Raqqa

US-backed Syrian force declare victory over Daesh in Raqqa
In this Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017 photo, fighters from the Women’s Protection Units, or YPJ, hold a celebration in Paradise Square in Raqqa, Syria. (AP Photo/Gabriel Chaim)
Updated 20 October 2017

US-backed Syrian force declare victory over Daesh in Raqqa

US-backed Syrian force declare victory over Daesh in Raqqa
BEIRUT: A US-backed Syrian force declared victory over Daesh in its former “capital” of Raqqa on Friday, declaring the northern Syrian city free of any extremist presence.
At a press conference held inside the city Friday, the Kurdish-led force known as the Syrian Democratic Forces formally handed over administration of the devastated northern city to a council made up of local officials and tribal leaders.
In a highly symbolic move, the press conference was held inside the city’s sports stadium which Daesh militants had turned into an arms depot and a huge prison where they incarcerated and tortured their opponents.
“Our victory is one against terrorism, and the liberation of Raqqa marks the latest chapter in the fight against terrorists in Syria,” said Talal Sillo, a spokesman and senior SDF commander.
Standing before a backdrop of shattered buildings, Sillo urged the international community and aid organizations to assist with the city’s reconstruction.
Associated Press drone footage from Raqqa showed the extent of devastation caused by weeks of fighting between Kurdish-led forces and Daesh and thousands of bombs dropped by the US-led coalition.
Footage from Thursday shows the bombed-out shells of buildings and heaps of concrete slabs lay piled on streets littered with destroyed cars. Entire neighborhoods are seen turned to rubble, with little sign of civilian life.
The video showed entire blocks in the city as uninhabitable with knocked-out walls and blown-out windows and doors, while some buildings had several stories turned to piles of debris. The stadium that was used as an arms depot and prison by the extremists appears to have suffered less damage compared with surrounding buildings.
“We call upon all countries and peace-loving forces and all humanitarian organizations to participate in rebuilding the city and villages around it and help in removing the scars of war that were inflicted by the (Daesh) group,” Sillo said.
Sillo said 655 local and international fighters lost their lives during the four-month battle for Raqqa.
Long before the ground offensive by the Syrian Democratic Forces began in Raqqa in early June, warplanes pounded the city for months.
The US-backed Kurdish-led SDF announced Tuesday they have driven Daesh militants out of the city after weeks of fighting.
The fall of Raqqa marks a major defeat for Daesh, which has seen its territories steadily shrink since last year. Daesh took over Raqqa, located on the Euphrates River, in January 2014, and transformed it into the epicenter of its brutal rule.

Journey of faith: Pilgrims begin moving into Mina

Journey of faith: Pilgrims begin moving into Mina
Updated 25 September 2015

Journey of faith: Pilgrims begin moving into Mina

Journey of faith: Pilgrims begin moving into Mina
MINA: As the night wore on Monday, pilgrims started filling into the tent city of Mina.
They came in ones and twos, some on foot, some in wheelchairs, many in buses and SUVs arranged by the pilgrim establishments.
All roads and highways from Jeddah, Madinah, Riyadh, Dammam, Abha, Jazan and Taif were leading into Makkah and Mina.
The first leg of the five-day Haj begins on Tuesday when all pilgrims will spend the night in Mina before heading to Arafat on Wednesday morning.
Under the leadership of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal have arranged foolproof safety and security measures for the pilgrims.
Nearly 100,000 men in uniform are at the holy sites to make the journey of a lifetime for nearly 2 million pilgrims safe and secure.
“Haj is where you see near-perfect synchronization among all government agencies, ministries and pilgrim establishments,” said prominent Saudi analyst Sami Al-Nwaiser. “It is gigantic task and the goal is to organize a successful, smooth and hassle-free Haj.”
Traffic moved at a snail's pace on the Jeddah-Makkah Expressway. In addition to the permanent security checkpoint at Al-Shumaisy, there were four new checkpoints to keep undocumented pilgrims away. The 85 km journey from Jeddah to Makkah takes an hour in regular days. On Monday, it took three hours.
At the Al-Shumaisy checkpoint, security personnel were armed with latest high-tech gadgets that looked like iPads. They were screening the permits on those machines.
All alternate routes to Makkah and the holy sites were teeming with security forces in their vehicles, flashing with blue beacons.
Inside Makkah, it was hot and windy. At 7:38 p.m., the mercury was hovering at 40 degrees Celsius. In Mina, it was a different scene. It rained on Monday evening bringing down the temperature considerably. The maximum temperature for Tuesday in Makkah has been forecast to be 46.
The Kingdom has spent billions of riyals improving infrastructural facilities at Makkah, Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifa, including trains, roads, telecom and electricity networks.
“It is a mind-boggling exercise,” said Anwar Khursheed, a first-time pilgrim from Pakistan, who teaches at Punjab University. “Allah has conferred the highest honor of serving the Two Holy Mosques on the Al-Sauds and they have done everything that is humanly possible and doable to make the journey of the guests of Allah comfortable.”

Keeping Hajis safe: Unfit foodstuff seized

Keeping Hajis safe: Unfit foodstuff seized
Updated 25 September 2015

Keeping Hajis safe: Unfit foodstuff seized

Keeping Hajis safe: Unfit foodstuff seized
RIYADH: In a major drive to keep Hajis healthy, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry has confiscated 4,211 unfit consumable items and 40,000 non-consumable items from the shops in Makkah and Madinah.
The inspections were carried out intensively to prevent the sale of unhealthy goods that contravene the local regulations to the pilgrims, said the ministry.
The confiscated items included Zamzam water, frozen chicken, frozen meat, potatoes, pickles, cheese, pineapple jam, olive oil, juice, biscuits, dairy products, cake, chips, tea, cookies with dates, croissant, soda, spices and candies.
The seized non-consumable items were found not in compliance with the Saudi Standard Specifications and Consumer Protection Regulation.
They included electric plugs, cell chargers, mobile accessories, chains, cosmetic items, eyeliners, cream, Vaseline, incense, henna, shampoo, soap, washing liquid, handbags and perfumes.
The ministry has also planned to begin intensive inspections of jewelry and precious metal shops to verify calibration and to check the scales used in such stores.
The authorities regularly inspect fuel stations, especially those located on the pilgrims’ routes, to calibrate the fuel pumps. Tire shops are inspected to verify their items’ quality and validity and to confiscate second-hand and expired tires.

Coalition jets wreck Sanaa runway as Tehran defies blockade

Coalition jets wreck Sanaa runway as Tehran defies blockade
Updated 30 April 2015

Coalition jets wreck Sanaa runway as Tehran defies blockade

Coalition jets wreck Sanaa runway as Tehran defies blockade

SANAA: Coalition warplanes destroyed the runway at Sanaa’s rebel-held airport Tuesday after an Iranian plane “defied” a blockade on Yemeni airspace, the spokesman for the Saudi-led alliance said on Tuesday.
Brig. Gen. Ahmad Al-Assiri said the pilot of the Iranian plane dismissed the coalition’s warnings not to fly in to Sanaa airport after entering through an unauthorized route.
“This forced air forces to destroy the runway at Sanaa airport to prevent him from landing” and forced him to turn back to Iran, he said.
Planes flying to the Yemeni capital must pass through Saudi Arabia’s Bisha Domestic Airport in the south which is assigned with the duty to “search any plane going to Sanaa,” said Assiri.
This showed that there was “something not right” about the Iranian plane, he said, adding that “these are irresponsible actions” carried out in “defiance of blockade measures.”
Assiri said that planes bringing aid from Doctors Without Borders, the International Migration Organization, and other humanitarian groups had landed in Sanaa.