RIYADH: Saudi investors have accused some Ethiopian government officials of robbing them of their land and equipment. Mohammed Al-Shehri, who leads a body of investors in the African country, claimed that certain Ethiopian officials falsely accused him and others of criminal activities so that they could confiscate their property. Al-Shehri was quoted as saying in a local publication that the alleged corruption was rife in certain areas, with some investors imprisoned and accused of forgery, and not allowed to bring their equipment back to Saudi Arabia. He said that all farming operations of Saudi citizens in Ethiopia had come to a virtual standstill six years after their inception. The African country had failed to live up to promises made to investors, he said. Al-Shehri said that 50 percent of Saudi investors in Ethiopia have left the country, some leaving behind their farms and others selling them. He said many do not want to return there because they fear being framed for crimes they did not commit. He said that the investors have contacted the foreign ministries of both countries but have yet to get a response on the allegations. Saudi investors were facing similar problems in other countries, including Sudan, he claimed.
‘We must cooperate’ to curb virus, avoid tough measures, Saudi Ministry of Interior warns
Makkah police arrest 13 people for violating isolation, quarantine instructions
Updated 19 min 30 sec ago
RIYADH: The Saudi Ministry of Interior (MoI) announced on Sunday that authorities have detected a surge of “worrying” behaviors in the Kingdom since the beginning of Ramadan, warning citizens to avoid ignoring anti-coronavirus health measures.
At a joint press conference between the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Health (MoH) and the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, MoI spokesperson Lt. Col. Talal Al-Shalhoub warned that the rising number of coronavirus cases in the Kingdom could potentially lead to citywide lockdowns, as well as the banning of certain activities.
“We must cooperate and not trivialize the dangers. We do not want to have to resort to tough measures,” he said.
Al-Shalhoub added that the Kingdom was continuing to crack down on rule-breakers and those who violate safety precautions, including people using social media to spread misinformation about safety measures and ways to circumvent them.
Meanwhile, Makkah’s regional police spokesman said that 13 people were arrested in Jeddah and Taif for violating isolation and quarantine instructions after they tested positive for coronavirus.
Preliminary legal procedures were taken against them and their cases were referred to the Public Prosecution. The MoI previously warned that violators will face up to a two-year prison sentence, a fine of up to SR200,000 ($53,300), or both.
Ministry of Health spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly revealed that the Kingdom has seen a slight rise in the percentage of women contracting coronavirus, warning that the number of women coming forward to be vaccinated was lower than expected.
“We have also seen a rise in the number of female cases that become critical and end up needing intensive care. Women also make up 55 percent of the overall number of cases in the Kingdom,” he said.
The MoH announced that 917 new coronavirus cases were reported on Saturday, raising the total number of cases to 404,970.
There are now 9,445 active cases, 1,044 of which are in critical care.
404,970 Total cases
Of the new cases, 402 were in Riyadh, 203 in Makkah and 131 in the Eastern Province. Baha and Jouf reported the lowest cases on Saturday, with just six cases each.
Al-Aly said that appointments for second vaccine doses would be automatically updated, following news that some appointments had been canceled. The Saudi strategy aims to immunize the largest number of people possible with at least the first dose, Al-Aly added.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah announced that more than 15 million people have benefited from its Eatmarna app.
The ministry said that only people who have taken at least the first dose of the vaccine will be permitted to perform Umrah, or pray at either the Grand Mosque in Makkah or the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah.
Violators will be prosecuted for attempting to perform the pilgrimage without the proper permissions, officials said, adding that authorities are encouraging safety precautions in order to ensure safe, smooth, and seamless pilgrimages for all visitors.
There were 907 new recoveries reported in the Kingdom, raising the total number of recoveries over the course of the pandemic to 388,702. The Kingdom’s death toll rose to 6,823 after 13 new coronavirus-related deaths were recorded.
Almost 7.1 million coronavirus vaccines have been administered in Saudi Arabia so far.
KSrelief also continued distributing Ramadan food baskets to Lebanon and Pakistan
Updated 1 min 54 sec ago
RIYADH: The General Supervisor of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah met with Sweden’s special envoy for Yemen Peter Semneby in Riyadh.
During the meeting, Al-Rabeeah, who is also adviser at the Royal Court, reviewed the 590 humanitarian and relief projects that the Kingdom has carried out through the center in Yemen.
Both sides also discussed matters of common interest related to humanitarian and relief affairs in Yemen and the efforts made to alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people.
Semneby praised the pioneering role provided by the Kingdom through KSrelief in support of countries in need, and the special attention given to the Yemeni people.
Meanwhile, KSrelief distributed more than 27 tons of food baskets to displaced families in Yemen’s Marib governorate, benefiting 1,554 individuals.
The center also continued distributing Ramadan food baskets to Syrian and Palestinian refugees and Lebanese families in Lebanon.
About 1,000 Ramadan food baskets were distributed in the Katarmaya area in Mount Lebanon, benefiting 5,000 people.
The center also distributed 1,713 Ramadan food baskets in Wadi Khaled in northern Lebanon, Arsal in northern Bekaa and Jiyeh in Mount Lebanon, benefiting 8,500 individuals.
KSrelief also continued distributing Ramadan food baskets in Pakistan. Nearly 1,200 Ramadan food baskets were distributed in the Sibi and Qalat districts of Balochistan region, benefiting 7,056 individuals.
KSrelief has implemented 1,556 projects worth more than $5 billion in 59 countries. The initiatives have been carried out in cooperation with 144 local, regional and international partners since the inception of the center in May 2015.
According to a recent KSrelief report, the countries and territories that benefited the most from the center’s various projects were Yemen ($3.53 billion), Palestine ($363 million), Syria ($305 million) and Somalia ($203 million).
Saudi Arabia’s Diriyah celebrates International Day for Monuments and Sites
Salwa Palace is a symbol of the rise of the Al-Saud family to unify the present-day Saudi Arabia
Updated 32 min 36 sec ago
JEDDAH: In celebration of UNESCO’s International Day for Monuments and Sites on April 18, Arab News highlights one of the Kingdom’s oldest and most cherished sites: Diriyah, capital of the first Saudi state and birthplace of the ruling family.
The Diriyah Gate Development Authority (DGDA) is racing to finalize its plans to make the site the “Jewel of the Kingdom.”
Restoration of historic Diriyah will reflect Saudi Arabia’s remarkable past, maintain the area’s landmarks and highlight its history.
The Diriyah Gate giga-project was launched in November 2019 by King Salman, who has regarded it as special since he was governor of the region.
The Diriyah Gate giga-project was launched in November 2019 by King Salman, who has regarded it as special since he was governor of the region. Restoration of historic Diriyah will reflect Saudi Arabia’s remarkable past, maintain the area’s landmarks and highlight its history.
“Diriyah holds a number of historic sites that bore witness to the development of the Saudi state,” said DGDA spokesman Thamer Al-Sudairi. He described Diriyah as “a symbol of unity of the land.”
Nestled between the bend of Wadi Hanifa and considered one of Diriyah’s oldest neighborhoods, At-Turaif holds prominence with over 300 years of history etched on the mud-brick walls that dot the area. Salwa Palace is a symbol of the rise of the Al-Saud family to unify the present-day Kingdom.
Makkah is rich in mountains related to Islamic history. These include Jabal Al-Nour, Mount Thowr, Mount Arafat and other mountains that reflect the cultural values of the holy city, which is what distinguishes it from other cities. (Supplied)
Natural features overlooking the Grand Mosque bear testimony to history
Updated 12 min 17 sec ago
MAKKAH: If only mountains could talk. For centuries, Makkah, a holy city in the middle of large grey bouldered mountains, has witnessed thousands of historical events over several millennia and undergone many stages of development, sheltering millions throughout the years.
Surrounded by seven distinct mountains, the once bare land located in a valley where no plants can grow holds the holiest site in Islam, the Holy Kaaba in the Grand Mosque of Makkah. It has drawn people from all walks of life to settle and develop a city of mixed cultures, races, backgrounds, sects and traditions.
Inhabitants of Makkah grew into the habit of climbing the mountains from Al-Misfalah neighborhood and descending from the Al-Mallah area of the Grand Mosque through the valley known as Ibrahim Al-Khalil.
Dr. Mansur Al-Daajani, a history researcher, told Arab News about Makkah’s most famous mountains. Abu Qubays mountain is considered one of the pillars of Makkah and lies east of the Grand Mosque. It is said that this was the first mountain elevated on Earth and overlooks Kaaba. In the days before Islam, the mountain was called “Al-Amin” (the trustworthy), and was where the Kaaba’s black stone was stored in the year of the Genesis flood.
The second is the Khandama mountain, located behind the Qubays mountain.
The third, the Quaiqian mountain, or Jabal Hindi, lies west of the Grand Mosque. It was called Quaiqian due to the clanking of swords during the battle between the tribes of Jurhum and Katura, according to the history books of Makkah.
One of the more famous mountains located northeast of the city is Jabal Al-Nour, “the Mountain of Light,” where the cave of Hira lies and where the Prophet Muhammad received the first of his many revelations.
Another important mountain noted in the history books and Holy Qur’an is Thowr. Located 3 km from the Holy Kaaba, it is where the Prophet and his companion Abu Bakr sought refuge when fleeing to Madinah from the Quraysh tribe.
Located to the west of the mosque, Jabal Omar extends from Al-Shabika to Al-Misfalah neighborhoods and is where many worshippers are housed in hotels and apartment houses nowadays due to its close proximity to the mosque.
The last of the seven mountains is Mount Thabir. Located opposite Jabal Al-Nour to the east, it is believed to be where the scapegoat was sent to Ismail, son of Abraham. The mountain is divided into many regions, such as Thabir Ghinaa, Thabir Al-Nakhil (Thabir of Palms), Thabir Al-Nusu and Thabir Al-Aaraj.
The Abu Qubays, Khandama, Al-Sayeda, Jabal Omar and Quaiqian mountains are landmarks with a long history. Over time, the many homes and slums that covered their slopes became an issue for development planners in the region. The preservation of the city’s identity was a concern and returning these mountains to their correct state is a continuing project for the city’s future development.
Anas Saleh Serafi, head of the real estate committee at Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told Arab News that the process of developing and building on the mountains surrounding the Grand Mosque is important in accommodating the increasing number of Muslims visiting the site and in continuing the expansion plans of the Grand Mosque but in a manner that will ensure that they are preserved within technical parameters.
Serafi said that Jabal Hindi, north of the Grand Mosque, was the first to be developed, where the “Northern Terraces” project was executed to facilitate climbing on its slopes while preserving it and developing the buildings on top of it. The same applies to Jabal Omar, which lies 600 meters north of the mosque, and includes the small market and part of Al-Misfalah neighborhood. He added that rocks were cut to allow for the expansion of the Grand Mosque and for facilitating access to the visitors of holy places.
He said that Makkah is rich in mountains related to Islamic history and heritage. These include Jabal Al-Nour — where the Cave of Hira lies — Mount Thowr, Mount Arafat and other mountains that reflect the cultural values of the holy city, which is what distinguishes it from other cities.
Serafi said that a number of violations had occurred in the past, including building in unauthorized areas in some of Makkah’s mountains, the expansion of slums, and the damage caused by quarries on top of the mountains surrounding the highway leading to Makkah.
“This contributes to staining the beauty and nature of the place, and distorts the image for visitors,” Serafi said. “There should be moderation in developing the mountains of Makkah so as not to stop the necessary development operations and at the same time not to indiscriminately damage this topography that reflects the historical identity of the city, its structure and essence. The ultimate objective is to preserve these mountains, which are deeply rooted in history.”
History researcher, Dr. Samir Barqah, told Arab News that Makkah, with its mountains, has a geographical and historical identity related to events, stories, and facts documented in history.
Barqah said that in some countries, such as Italy and Greece, houses are clustered on top of mountains and still have all the necessary services and infrastructure; they are easily accessible, and have hospitals and schools. He said that Makkah is distinguished by its distinct geographical characteristics, and that its identity and cultural potential should be reflected through its mountain ranges and its building designs.
He said: “Our role as Saudis is to present the identity of Makkah to the world including its historical landmarks and characteristics. This is what officials are trying to do as we saw slums invading the mountains near the Cave of Hira and Jabal Thowr, noting that today we are witnessing the rehabilitation of these two mountains by rendering easy access to them and by giving special care to the holy sites of Muslims, which entails cooperation from all.”
Barqah said that the old houses of Makkah should be preserved, painted and rehabilitated, especially the ones that do not obstruct the development operation in the central region, for they reflect the authentic culture of Makkah and satisfy the curiosity of any visitor who is passionate about history.
Taakad centers provide COVID-19 testing for those who show no or mild symptoms, while Tetamman clinics offer treatment
Updated 18 April 2021
RIYADH: Saudi authorities continued their monitoring campaigns to ensure compliance with the precautionary measures imposed to stem the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
They recorded 27,377 violations of the regulations within one week, according to recent statistics from the Ministry of Interior.
The statistics indicated that the region of Riyadh recorded the highest number with 9,471 violations, followed by Makkah (5,756), the Eastern Province (3,589), Qassim (1,969), Madinah (1,690), Jouf (1,343), Tabuk (897), Hail (801), Baha (579), Asir (503), the Northern Borders (451), Najran (171) and Jazan (157).
The ministry called on citizens and residents to keep abiding by the preventive protocols and the instructions issued by authorities in this regard.
Meanwhile, Saudi health clinics set up by the Ministry of Health as testing hubs or treatment centers have helped hundreds of thousands of people around the Kingdom since the pandemic began.
Among those testing hubs are Taakad (make sure) centers and Tetamman (rest assured) clinics.
Taakad centers provide COVID-19 testing for those who show no or mild symptoms, while Tetamman clinics offer treatment and advice to people with symptoms, such as fever, loss of taste and smell, and breathing difficulties.