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Old September 3rd, 2018, 05:21 AM   #11661
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Preparations for Haj of 2019 begin

Central Haj Committee reviews successful Haj operation


Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, emir of Makkah and advisor to Custodian of the Two Holy
Mosques, chairs a meeting of the Central Haj Committee in Makkah on Tuesday.
August 28, 2018

MAKKAH — The Saudi Arabian authorities have started preparations for next year’s Haj with a decision to hold the Haj workshop to discuss all the aspects of the operation of the annual pilgrimage in the end of the coming month of Muharram. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, emir of Makkah, advisor to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, and chairman of the Central Haj Committee, approved holding the Haj workshop, in preparations for the next Haj season. Meanwhile, the Haj Housing Committee in Makkah will start receiving from Muharram 1 applications from citizens who want to rent out their residential buildings for the accommodation of the pilgrims for the Haj of 2019.

Prince Khaled made the approval while chairing the meeting of the committee at the emirate office in Makkah on Tuesday. The meeting reviewed the operation of the Haj of 2018 and making arrangements and preparations for the next Haj. At the outset of the meeting, Prince Khaled thanked Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, and Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Saud Bin Naif, minister of interior and chairman of the Supreme Haj Committee, for the resounding success of this year’s Haj. He said that as of Tuesday morning, 207,000 out of the total foreign pilgrims of 1,760,486 have left the Kingdom.

According to the emir, the meeting observed several positive factors that contributed to making the Haj operation a great success. “There has been a qualitative leap in the Haj operation with complete coordination of all the concerned departments and agencies, and deployment of huge number of human and material resources, and a sharp decline in the number of those who infiltrated to the holy sites to perform Haj without a permit. These were some of the positive factors in addition to the overall sound health condition of the pilgrims.”

Prince Khaled said that the Haj season was completely free from epidemic or contagious diseases, and there were isolation rooms at the hospitals in Makkah and the holy sites. More than 333,000 pilgrims received treatment at these hospitals during Haj. “The dramatic improvement in the system of crowd control and grouping of pilgrims, smooth flow of traffic, running of Mashair Train on time, and implementation of Makkah Road initiative for immigration pre-clearance facility for over 100,000 Malaysian and Indonesian pilgrims are some of the other positive factors,” he added.

The meeting also discussed the plan for starting preparations for the Haj of 2019. In a related development, the Haj Housing Committee in Makkah urged the citizens who want to get issuance of licenses for accommodating pilgrims in their residential buildings to approach the concerned engineering offices, approved by the Makkah municipality, at the earliest. The engineering offices and the Civil Defense teams will inspect the buildings and issue fitness certificates before the committee issuing licenses for these buildings.

http://saudigazette.com.sa/article/5...-of-2019-begin

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Old September 3rd, 2018, 05:24 AM   #11662
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A new app helps pilgrims
perform tawaf Al-Ifada


August 28, 2018

MAKKAH — Under the instructions of the Ministry of Haj and Umrah, the six private tawafa establishments have this year used an electronic app to know the best time the pilgrims can to do tawaf Al-Ifada, according to Makkah daily on Tuesday.

This new step was aimed at organizing the grouping of the pilgrims to go to the Grand Mosque for tawaf Al-Ifada.

Tariq Anqawi, chairman of the tawafa establishment for the Muslims from Turkey, Europe, America and Australia, said the wishes of the pilgrims were entered into the computer long before their arrival in the Kingdom.

"The wishes were conveyed to the Ministry of Haj and Umrah to consider and approve," he added.

He said the grouping of pilgrims for the tawaf Al-Ifada was this year included in the 12 grouping stages.

"This new app. will help the mutawifeen know the time their pilgrims prefer to go to the Grand Mosque for tawaf Al-Ifada," he said.

Anqawi said the ministry would take these wishes into consideration when approving the timings for the tawaf Al-Ifada which follows the stoning of the Satan and the other rituals in Mina on the first Eid Al-Adha day.

Mohammed Amin Anderqairi, chairman of the tawafa establishment for Southeast Asia pilgrims, said the tawafa establishments will be committed to the grouping schedules formulated by the ministry but will try to answer the wishes of the pilgrims as much as possible.

He said the pilgrims would enter their wishes in the computer long before they arrive in the Kingdom so as to be forwarded to the ministry for necessary action.

"The new system will answer the wishes of the pilgrims and will at the same time help in organizing the grouping procedures," he added.

http://saudigazette.com.sa/article/5...tawaf-Al-Ifada
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Old September 3rd, 2018, 05:37 AM   #11663
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Cleaning of Grand Mosque intensifies


Some 4,000 workers supervised by 275 employees clean the carpets and floors
of the Grand Mosque around the clock in three overlapping shifts.


Makkah — With the successful completion of Haj, the cleaning of the Grand Mosque in Makkah has been intensified.

The administration responsible for cleaning the carpets and the floors of the Grand Mosque and its external courtyards has deputed some 4,000 workers for the cleaning purpose supervised by 275 employees.

A total of 2,247 tons of garbage was collected from the Grand Mosque and its external courtyards.

One thousand machines are used for cleaning the floors.

The carpets and the floors are cleaned around the clock in three overlapping shifts with each shift taking 30 minutes for the cleaning process, according to Director General of Services Affairs Muhammad Al-Jabri.

Contingency plans are always ready to be implemented in case of rainfall.

Some 150 plastic carpets are spread in two lanes in the courtyards and at the entrances to the Grand Mosque to prevent pilgrims and visitors from slipping.

Seventy machines are pressed into service to suck puddles of water from the floors.

http://saudigazette.com.sa/article/5...ue-intensifies

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Old September 4th, 2018, 03:48 AM   #11664
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Prophet’s Mosque all geared up
to receive visitors



Copies of the Holy Qur'an being presented to departing Haj pilgrims in Madinah.
August 28, 2018

MADINAH — The Prophet's Mosque is ready and fully prepared to receive pilgrims who arrive in Madinah after the Haj to pay homage to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and pray at his mosque.

The Presidency of the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques said all the concerned administrations and departments have completed their arrangements to receive the visitors and provide them with consummate services that will enable them complete their post-Haj rituals.

The presidency said it has doubled the number of its staff and equipment to serve the visitors. "We are determined to provide the visitors of the Prophet's Mosque with the best of services and facilities," it said.

In a statistical report, the Haj Committee said more than 83,000 pilgrims arrived in Madinah on Sunday after completing their Haj. It added that the pilgrims came to Madinah on 1,529 buses and 8,124 cars.

It said more than 62,000 pilgrims arrived in Madinah on Saturday and 4,577 left on the same day. The committee said bout 4,190 pilgrims had medical treatment at the hospitals, health centers and clinics in the city.

On the other hand, the "Gift of Madinah" project, by a welfare organization, started to package and distribute more than 500,000 meals and 600,000 containers of Zamzam water among the visitors.

Supervisor of the project, Faiz Talib Al-Ahmadi said more than a million hot meals will be distributed among the visitors during their stay in the Prophet's city.

Meanwhile the tawafa establishment for the pilgrims from Turkey, Europe, America and Australia said it had so far grouped a total of 59,125 pilgrims from Makkah to Madinah and to their respective homes after successfully completing the pilgrimage.

Chairman of the establishment, Tariq Anqawi, said the establishment had prepared a farewell program to see the pilgrims off with feelings of cordiality and love similar to their welcome program on arrival.

He said as many as 18,513 pilgrims left for their respective homes through King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah while 748 left by land. Anqawi said the establishment this year served 240,057 pilgrims who came from 74 countries in five continents.

http://saudigazette.com.sa/article/5...ceive-visitors
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Old September 4th, 2018, 04:57 AM   #11665
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New Umrah season advanced by a month


September 2, 2018

MAKKAH — The Ministry of Haj and Umrah has started taking practical steps to implement the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 aimed at ensuring the arrival of about 30 million Umrah pilgrims annually.

The ministry announced that the Umrah season for 2018-2019 has been advanced by 30 days to begin in Muharram (September) instead of Safar (October).

The Umrah season used to start in Safar, the second month of the Islamic calendar. However, this year Umrah pilgrims will start arriving in the Kingdom about eight days from now i.e. from Muharram 1.

The ministry said it will work with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to start issuing Umrah visas to pilgrims at its diplomatic and consular missions abroad.

According to the ministry, more than seven million pilgrims performed Umrah last season.

Deputy Minister Abdul Fattah Mashshat said 15 million pilgrims are expected to perform Umrah by 2022. The number will rise to about 30 million by the year 2030.

“We now have 1.8 million Haj pilgrims coming from outside. We plan to increase this number to five million by 2030,” he said.

The deputy minister said the arrival of pilgrims through the air, land and sea inlets has been made extremely easy and that the processing of passports of pilgrims will now take only a few minutes.

“In the just concluded Haj season we introduced the Makkah Road initiative under which pilgrims, especially from Malaysia and Indonesia, processed their passport procedures in their home countries,” he said.

Under the new initiative pilgrims will not have to wait for immigration on arrival in the Kingdom.

http://saudigazette.com.sa/article/5...ced-by-a-month
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Old September 4th, 2018, 05:45 AM   #11666
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348,965 pilgrims arrive in Madinah


The Prophet’s tomb can be visited by entering Al-Salam Door.
Monday . September 03, 2018

MADINAH: The total number of pilgrims who have arrived in Madinah after performing Hajj rituals has reached 348,965, according to the statistics announced by authorities in the holy city. After the completion of Hajj, thousands of pilgrims visit sites of historical interest in the two holy cities.

Saudi authorities ensure to provide them with the best services during their stay in the Kingdom. Last week, Madinah Charity Society distributed more than 500,000 meals and 600,000 water bottles to pilgrims visiting Madinah.

A supervisor of Madinah Gift Project said the total meals provided to pilgrims were 1 million, in addition to 1.5 million bottles of water.

Experts believe pilgrims’ visits to historical sites are of cultural significance as they enrich their knowledge. They stressed the need to preserve the rich historical value of the two holy cities, adding that tourism companies have to share that responsibility. They said many people — particularly researchers and students — are interested in the history of heritage sites of the Kingdom.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1366341/saudi-arabia

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Old September 4th, 2018, 05:57 AM   #11667
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All aboard: The bus project that transformed
Hajj transport in Makkah


30 August 2018

MAKKAH: Shuttle buses to the holy sites in Makkah were introduced 23 years ago to help Hajj pilgrims get around, increase capacity and reduce traffic.

The project is one of the pioneering ideas developed and launched by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Institute of Hajj and Umrah Research over the years.

Dr. Othman bin Bakr Qazzaz, head of the Research and Studies Department at the institute, said King Salman’s government makes every effort to help pilgrims perform Hajj with ease, peace, safety and security. The institute was established to assist with this, and has carried out many studies and research projects, the most important of which resulted in the shuttle buses being introduced in Makkah.

The bus project

The initial bus project took place in 1995, he added, involving the National Tawafa Establishment for Pilgrims of Turkey and Muslims of Europe, Americas and Australia. It was designed to find a way to reduce traffic on the roads used by pilgrims to travel from Arafat to Mina, and protect pedestrians from the risks posed by vehicles.

Special bus routes were set up to help pilgrims quickly move from their camps to Muzdalifah, Mina and Arafat. The project was a great success, Qazzaz said, in helping pilgrims travel safely and quickly from Arafat to Mina.

It was subsequently expanded to the National Tawafa Establishment for Pilgrims of Non-Arab African Countries, the National Tawafa Establishment for South Asian Pilgrims and the National Tawafa Establishment for South East Asian Pilgrims.

He said the service not only connects pilgrims’ camps with the holy sites but other parts of the city as well, and operates during Hajj and Umrah seasons.

This year, the buses began transporting pilgrims from Arafat to Muzdalifah on Aug. 20.

The shuttle bus center has space for 2,000 buses, while the roads are closed to other traffic and no vehicle can enter without authorization.

Pilgrims are transported from Arafat to Muzdalifah in less than 20 minutes and the total trip, including loading and unloading, takes less than 50 minutes.

Previously, the journey could take between four and five hours, given the millions of people traveling at peak times. The buses also help the environment, reducing air pollution by restricting the number of vehicles on the roads.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1364411/saudi-arabia

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Old September 5th, 2018, 02:07 AM   #11668
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Countdown for Haramain Train service begins


September 5, 2018

Minister of Transport Nabeel Al-Amoudi inspected the preparedness of the Haramain High Speed Train between the sectors of Makkah and Jeddah on Tuesday.

Accompanied by Public Transport Authority Chief Rumaih Al-Rumaih and Saudi Railway Company CEO Bashar Al-Malik, he made inspection tour of the Jeddah Railway Station in Sulaimaniyah and Makkah Railway Station in Rusaifa and traveled on board the train between the two cities.

Al-Amoudi said the countdown for commercial operation of the Haramain Train service, linking Makkah and Madinah via Jeddah and Rabigh, will start by the end of this month.

http://saudigazette.com.sa/article/5...service-begins



https://www.spa.gov.sa/1809455


Haramain train arrival at Makkah station



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Old September 7th, 2018, 07:27 PM   #11669
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More than a million pilgrims
have left Saudi Arabia after Hajj


07 September 2018

JEDDAH: More than a million pilgrims have left the Kingdom after completing their Hajj, according to Saudi authorities.

The General Directorate of Passports said that out of 1,758,722 foreign pilgrims, 1,001,783 had departed as of 4pm on Sept. 6, 19 days after the climax of the Hajj. The “day of Arafat,” which fell on Aug. 20 this year, is considered the pinnacle of the pilgrimage. More than 2.3 million pilgrims spent the day in worship on the plain of the Makkah suburb, under the scorching sun.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman praised the efficient organization of the Hajj, which allowed the pilgrims “to perform their duties with ease, security and reassurance in a serene environment.” The king and his crown prince also thanked Interior Minister Prince Abdul Aziz bin Saud bin Naif, whose job as the head of the Supreme Hajj Committee is to ensure the successful implementation of the plans for the pilgrimage.

The king said he prayed for God’s acceptance of pilgrims’ prayers and their safe return to their homelands, and wished success for Islam and Muslims.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1368136/saudi-arabia

Distribution of Quran on the pilgrims
departing at King Abdulaziz Airport








https://www.spa.gov.sa/viewstory.php...newsid=1802659
https://www.spa.gov.sa/viewstory.php...newsid=1811139
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Old September 9th, 2018, 03:53 AM   #11670
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15,000 jobs in Umrah field awaiting Saudis


September 9, 2018 / 29 Dhu al-hijjah 1439

JEDDAH – The 1440 Umrah season, beginning in Muharram, will see the entry of new Saudi companies in the field, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Haj and Umrah for Umrah Affairs Dr. Abdulaziz Abdulrahman Wazzan told Okaz/Saudi Gazette Saturday.

Licenses have been granted to some 685 companies and establishments. Investment opportunities in the hotel sector will increase by over SR100 million. This will create over 15,000 job opportunities for Saudi young men and women, he said.

Asked about the number of new companies that are scheduled to enter the Umrah sector this season and whether they have completed their licensing procedures, Wazzan said: “The ministry’s endeavor to convert the Haj and Umrah work into an industry to make it one of the major tributaries of the new Saudi economy, is in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, which aims to host 30 million Umrah pilgrims throughout the coming years. The ministry has completed procedures for licensing some 685 Saudi Umrah companies and establishments.”

In reply to a question on the number of expected Umrah pilgrims in the new 1440 season, he said: “The ministry’s target for 1440 is to receive 8.5 million Umrah pilgrims. It is working continuously and in coordination with all the concerned sectors and its partners in Umrah services in readying all the necessary resources and potentials to serve Umrah pilgrims. The ministry is in the process of developing the electronic portal for Umrah through which all Umrah procedures are completed electronically. This will enhance transparency and cut down the time for completing procedures and raise the standard of services by achieving integration among all the authorities participating in providing Umrah services.”

http://saudigazette.com.sa/article/5...waiting-Saudis

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Old September 9th, 2018, 05:43 AM   #11671
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Saudi Arabia arrests Imam
of Makkah’s Grand Mosque




Sheikh Saleh al-Talib
August 23, 2018

Makkah: Saudi Arabia arrested prominent Imam of Makkah’s Grand Mosque. The Imam had reportedly criticized mixed public gatherings.

According to the report published in Al-Jazeera, on Sunday, the Social Media Advocacy Group Prisoners of Conscience had claimed that Saudi Arabia has arrested Sheikh Saleh al-Talib. Saudi Arabia allegedly took this decision after the imam reportedly delivered a sermon on the duty in Islam to speak out against the evil in public.

Talib who is also a judge in Makkah had allegedly slammed mixing of men and women at different events. However, the imam did not directly criticize the Saudi Royal Family.

No official statement was issued on this issue.

It may be mentioned that recently, Saudi Arabia had relaxed law related to women allowing them to attend public events.

Talking to media, Mr. Yahya Assiri, a UK-based Saudi Human Rights activist claimed that authorities of Saudi Arabia are searching for the people who were present at the spot.

It may be noted that after Mohammed bin Salman became the Saudi Crown Prince, many imams, Women’s rights activists and members of the royal family were arrested.

https://www.siasat.com/news/saudi-ar...osque-1396283/


Saudi 'detains' Mecca imam
who 'challenged mixed gatherings'



22 Aug 2018

Saudi Arabia has detained a prominent imam and preacher at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, activists said, after he reportedly delivered a sermon criticising mixed public gatherings.

The social media advocacy group Prisoners of Conscience, which monitors and documents arrests of Saudi preachers and religious scholars, said on Sunday that Sheikh Saleh al-Talib was arrested after he delivered a sermon on the duty in Islam to speak out against evil in public.

Khaleej Online reported that in his sermon, Talib, who also serves as a judge in Mecca, derided the mixing of unrelated men and women at concerts and other mixed entertainment events.

While there was no direct criticism of the Saudi royal family in his speech, the kingdom has in recent months relaxed laws on female attendance at public events.

Saudi Arabia has yet to issue an official statement on the issue.

Hours after his reported arrest, both of al-Talib's Engish and Arabic Twitter accounts were deactivated.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Yahya Assiri, a UK-based Saudi human rights activist, said the kingdom's "authorities are looking at everyone that's influential and has a presence on the scene".

He added: "Even those that have kept quiet or pledged allegiance to the state, even those that have been drumming up the authorities and their initiatives, even these are not safe."
Wave of arrests

Since Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MBS, became the Saudi crown prince in June 2017, dozens of imams, women's rights activists and members of the ruling royal family have been detained.

Among those arrested are prominent Islamic preachers Salman al-Awdah, Awad al-Qarni, Farhan al-Malki, Mostafa Hassan and Safar al-Hawali.

Al-Awdah and al-Qarni, who have millions of followers on social media, were arrested last September and accused of having links to the Muslim Brotherhood, a group Saudi Arabia blacklisted as a "terror organisation".

Meanwhile, al-Hawali, 68, was detained after he published a 3,000-page book attacking bin Salman and the ruling family over their ties to Israel, calling it a "betrayal".

Earlier this year, bin Salman softened the kingdom's stance on Israel, telling the US-based Atlantic magazine that Israelis "have the right to their own land" and "there are a lot of interests we [Saudi Arabia] share with Israel."

In March, Riyadh granted India's national carrier permission to use its airspace to operate a direct flight between New Delhi and Tel Aviv.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/...105619043.html


Saudi Arabia Silent on Reports
of Mecca Imam’s Arrest


26 Aug 2018

Officials in Saudi Arabia have yet to confirm or deny reports this week that Sheikh Dr. Saleh bin Mohammed Al Talib, imam and preacher of the Grand Holy Mosque on Mecca, has been arrested.

According to a report in Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper, Saleh was arrested after delivering a sermon on the duty in Islam to speak out against evil in public. Al Jazeera noted that, hours after his alleged arrest, both the sheikh’s Engish and Arabic Twitter accounts were deactivated.

Arabic news website Khaleej Online reported that Saleh “derided the mixing of unrelated men and women at concerts and other mixed entertainment events” during his sermon.

Although Saleh did not directly criticize Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) and the ruling family, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has recently relaxed its laws on female attendance at public events and officially allowed for women to start driving vehicles in June.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in an interview with CBS in July, “We have extremists who forbid mixing between the two sexes and are unable to differentiate between a man and a woman alone together and their being together in a workplace. Many of those ideas contradict the way of life during the time of the Prophet (pbuh).”

Yahya Assiri, a UK-based Saudi human rights activist who previously served as a member of the Saudi Air Force, told Pakistan’s Express Tribune, “Authorities are looking at everyone that’s influential and has a presence on the scene. Even those that have kept quiet or pledged allegiance to the state, even those that have been drumming up the authorities and their initiatives, even these are not safe.”

In November, Saudi officials arrested a significant number of high-ranking political figures in a corruption crackdown. They could reportedly receive prison sentences of 3-10 years for a variety of crimes. These officials were reportedly charged with the Saudi version of perjury, defined as “voicing injustice before Allah and before the king,” and for violating their duty to protect the nation’s institutions and interests.

At the time, popular columnist Khaled al-Suliman wrote an article titled, “Finally – who will be will be” in which he said:

What’s interesting about the list of those arrested for corruption is that it includes those who received complaints of corruption and we demanded that they fight corruption, and we assumed they were our defenders, but it turns out they are the wolf predators. While we thought them models to emulate, they were collecting suspicious fortunes through dirty deals.

https://www.breitbart.com/national-s...-imams-arrest/
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Old September 10th, 2018, 02:51 AM   #11672
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Holy sites to go smart

Technology to help overcome
all difficulties facing pilgrims: Emir



Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, emir of Makkah and adviser to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques,
meets heads of consulates and Haj missions in Jeddah on Sunday.
September 10, 2018

JEDDAH — Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, emir of Makkah and adviser to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, unveiled plans to turn Makkah and holy sites into smart sites with technology as the key element in overcoming all difficulties facing pilgrims.

He said the Royal Commission for Makkah and the Holy Sites, headed by Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, will implement giant projects in Makkah and the holy sites as part of the Kingdom’s utmost keenness in serving pilgrims and making their pilgrimage more comfortable.

The emir made the remarks during a reception for the heads of consulates and Haj missions at his office in Jeddah on Sunday.

The consuls general came to greet the emir on the occasion of the successful operation of this year’s Haj.

Prince Khaled said that the commission will announce its programs to implement high-tech projects for Makkah and the holy sites in the near future.

“On behalf of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, and Minister of Interior and Chairman of the Supreme Haj Committee Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Saud Bin Naif, I thank you for making this year’s Haj a resounding,” he said.

http://saudigazette.com.sa/article/5...es-to-go-smart
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Old September 10th, 2018, 03:11 AM   #11673
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1,141,998 Hajj pilgrims have left
Saudi Arabia so far,
says Passport Department


September 10, 2018

JEDDAH: The total number of Hajj pilgrims departing via land, air and sea ports of the Kingdom has reached 1,141,998 according to the statistics issued by the Directorate General of Passports (Jawazat).

The directorate said the number of pilgrims leaving by air was 1,042,305 by land 83,339 and by sea 15,954.

The number of pilgrims who arrived in Madinah reached 553,151 while the total number remaining in Madinah is 194,373 authorities said.

Meanwhile, pilgrims who were part of the Guests of King Salman for Hajj and Umrah program has thanked the Saudi authorities for the welcome they received, and shared stories of the heartbreaking suffering and loss they have endured over the years at home.

King Salman praised the efficient organization of the Hajj, which allowed the pilgrims “to perform their duties with ease, security and reassurance in a serene environment.” The king and the crown prince also thanked Interior Minister Prince Abdul Aziz bin Saud bin Naif, head of Supreme Hajj Committee, for ensuring the successful implementation of Hajj plans.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1369421/saudi-arabia

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Old September 11th, 2018, 05:45 PM   #11674
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New Hijri year 1440
____________________________________________

Saudi Arabia says Tuesday marks
beginning of new Hijri year


11 September 2018

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has announced that Tuesday marks the start of the Islamic New Year.

The Islamic New Year, or Hijri New Year, marks the first day of the month of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar.

A statement by the Supreme Court announced that courts and moon-sighting committees said the crescent of the new month was not sighted in the Kingdom on Sunday, the 29th of Dhul Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic year.

Accordingly, it was decided that Monday will be the last day of Dhul Hijjah, and that Muharram will commence on Tuesday, marking the beginning of the new Islamic year, 1440.

The name Hijri refers to the Hijra, or the migration of the Prophet Muhammad and his followers from Makkah to Madinah.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1370131/saudi-arabia
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Old September 13th, 2018, 12:28 AM   #11675
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Two Holy Mosques appoint 41 women
in leadership positions


September 11, 2018

Jeddah — Close on the heels of the appointment of female chiefs in Jeddah Municipality and directors of health centers in Makkah, 41 women have been appointed in leadership positions at the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques.

The Presidency said in a statement that the appointments were made by President of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques Sheikh Dr. Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais.

Shiekh Sudais said the Presidency works to ensure that women play a constructive and active role in improving the services offered in the Two Holy Mosques.

These appointments are in conformity with Kingdom’s Vision 2030 that supports empowering Saudi women and showing confidence in their abilities.

Three Saudi women were recently appointed as directors of health centers in Makkah.

They are the director of primary healthcare center in Hindawiyah, Dr. Shahad Muhammad Rummani, director of primary healthcare center in Al-Dhiyafa district Nahla Haddad, and director of primary healthcare center in Al-Iskan district Hatoon Bint Abdullah.

Recently a reshuffle in Jeddah Municipality by Mayor Saleh Al-Turki led to structural changes and more opportunities for women.

The mayor issued the reorganization of the municipality’s branches and redistributed over a dozen civil servants to various posts. Five were assigned to women, advancing women’s participation in leadership.

The changes and introduction of divisions such as an agency for hygiene services, community service, and a rain drainage project, among others, aim to increase productivity and performance, according to the mayor.

A newly created position called the supervisor of central municipalities is now taken up by Amani Mahmoud. She oversees the airport, Al-Sharafiyah, Al-Balad and Historical Jeddah and regularly meets with the mayor and his deputies.

http://saudigazette.com.sa/article/5...ship-positions
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Old September 13th, 2018, 12:37 AM   #11676
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Haramain train to start
operations after 11 days


on Muharram 14 / Sept. 24


Earlier this month, Minister of Transport Nabeel Al-Amoudi inspected the preparedness
of the Haramain High Speed Train between the sectors of Makkah and Jeddah.
September 12, 2018

Jeddah — The Haramain high-speed train will start commercial operations on Muharram 14 (Sept. 24) between Makkah and Madinah via Jeddah and Rabigh, according to sources.

All the carriages are ready for the operation after the successful completion of trial runs.

Railway stations in Makkah, Madinah and Rabigh are fully furnished while finishing touches are being finalized in Jeddah station.

Tickets are available from the Haramain High Speed Rail Project website.

There will be eight services daily on both sides until the end of this year.

From the beginning of next year, the services will be increased to 12. The frequency of trains will be increased in the future depending on the demand.

Earlier this month, Minister of Transport Nabeel Al-Amoudi inspected the preparedness of the Haramain High Speed Train between the sectors of Makkah and Jeddah.

Accompanied by Public Transport Authority Chief Rumaih Al-Rumaih and Saudi Railway Company CEO Bashar Al-Malik, he made inspection tour of the Jeddah Railway Station in Sulaimaniyah and Makkah Railway Station in Rusaifa and traveled on board the train between the two cities.

http://saudigazette.com.sa/article/5...-after-11-days




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Old September 13th, 2018, 02:31 AM   #11677
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First all-women media team
to be set up in Saudi Arabia


11 September 2018

MAKKAH: The first female media and public relations company in the Kingdom’s history has been set up with the aim of highlighting the role of women in serving the Two Holy Mosques.

The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque announced the move.

Dr. Mohammed Hindiya, head of the media department at Umm Al-Qura University, said: “It is a great step we have been longing for for so long since half the pilgrims are female. This is a good reason to establish this completely independent department to highlight the role of women in Islam and the services they provide in serving pilgrims.”

Dr. Salem Arija, director general of public relations and media department at the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque, said they wanted to highlight the important role Saudi women play in serving the Two Holy Mosques.

“This initiative stems out of our deep belief in its pivotal role in serving pilgrims,” he added.

Dr. Arija underlined that the pioneering step aims to empower women in various media fields. “It is a vital role that will highlight the leading role of women in serving pilgrims and achieve the objectives of providing the best services in the field of media and public relations,” he said.

The female appointees will be highly qualified and multilingual so that they are able to serve pilgrims from inside and outside the country.

“Some of the duties assigned to this specialized department include receiving media delegations from abroad, communicating with women’s media outlets, (they will need to) provide proper media and journalistic content in several languages,” explained Dr. Arija.

Dr. Hindya noted that the establishment of this type of media department requires concerted efforts to be successful, stressing that the Umm Al-Qura university was the first university to have a department dedicated to public relations.

“This would give a varying image of media in Makkah, especially that both Makkah and Medinah abound with rich historical heritage, in which women have played prominent roles, some of which have been documented, while others have not been properly covered,” he said.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1370621/saudi-arabia
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Old September 13th, 2018, 04:14 AM   #11678
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When extremism began: 40 years since
the Grand Mosque in Makkah was seized



Smoke rises during fighting on Nov. 20, 1979, after a group seized the Holy
Mosque. Right: The mastermind of the attack, Juhayman Al-Otaibi.
September 13, 2018 / 3 Muharram 1440

It has been 40 years since Saudi Arabia first experienced a terror attack, which shocked all Muslims worldwide. It took place at their most sacred place where the Kaaba has been located for centuries. The rise of extremism in the Kingdom began on Muharram 1, 1400 — corresponding to Nov. 20, 1979 — when a deviant group stormed the Holy Mosque of Makkah. The incident, which lasted two weeks, claimed the lives of more than 100 people.

It was the 1st of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar. Hundreds of worshippers were circling the Holy Kaaba, in spirituality and peace, performing the dawn prayer. It was nearly 5:25 a.m. All of a sudden, the attendants started to hear sounds of bullets that turned the most peaceful place into a stage for killers, who targeted ordinary, innocent people and rescuers.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has said that extremism started after 1979. He has pledged a return to a moderate past.

“We are returning to what we were before — a country of moderate Islam that is open to all religions and to the world,” he told the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh last year.

“We will not spend the next 30 years of our lives dealing with destructive ideas. We will destroy them today,” he added.

The Saudi authorities had to either immediately crush the aggressors or call on them to lay down their arms. The government sent the attackers a warning through a megaphone stressing that what the deviant group inside the Holy Mosque was doing was in complete contradiction to the teachings of Islam. The warning, in the name of government of the late King Khaled, also included the following Qur’anic verse to remind the attackers of their heinous acts: “Whoever intends a deviant deed at the Holy Mosque, in religion, or wrongdoing, We will make him taste a painful punishment,” and “Do they not then see that We have made a sanctuary secure, and that men are being snatched away from all around them? Then, do they believe in that which is vain, and reject the Grace of Allah?”

However, all calls on the attackers to surrender were fruitless. From the high minarets of the sacred mosque, snipers started gunning down innocent people outside the Grand Mosque.

King Khaled gathered the country’s senior ulema (scholars) to discuss the matter with them. They all agreed that the aggressors were, from an Islamic point of view, considered apostates, as a Muslim never kills innocent people. Doing that inside the holy mosque was even more atrocious. The ulema issued a fatwa (religious edict) to kill them in accordance with the instructions of the Islamic Shariah. The king ordered an assault. However, he said the lives of the innocent people seized by the attackers should be preserved. He also demanded that the Holy Kaaba and the soldiers be unharmed. And he directed the forces to arrest the offenders alive if possible.

Filled with enthusiasm to liberate their sacred mosque, the Saudi soldiers received the orders to free it from the criminals’ control. The attack to free the mosque began with the Saudi soldiers showing skills in hunting the offenders according to a well-studied plan until they succeeded in taking control of the whole mosque.


Smoke rising from the Grand Mosque during the assault on the Marwa-Safa gallery, 1979.

When captured, the members of the group were treated mercifully and gently. In this regard, the former head of the Special Security Forces, Maj. Gen. Mohammed Al-Nufaie, told a satellite TV channel that when the mastermind of the attack, Juhayman Al-Otaibi, was caught, a security member grabbed him by his beard. “When a royal saw that, he angrily ordered the soldier to remove his hand from the man’s beard,” Al-Nufaie remembered.

Al-Nufaie said Prince Saud Al-Faisal approached Juhayman and asked him why he had committed these acts. “Juhayman replied: ‘It was Satan.’ The prince also humanely asked him if he was complaining about anything or if he wanted anything. Juhayman pointed to a little wound on his leg and asked for water,” the retired major-general, who was present, said.

Al-Nufaie added that they were all very happy with the liberation of the Grand Mosque: “It was a true rejoicing after a two-week period of professional work. We were thrilled to bring the atmosphere of the mosque back to its normal serenity and tranquility.”

A witness, Hizam Al-Mastouri, 75, told Arab News that he was a soldier who participated in the operation against the attackers.

“We entered the Grand Mosque in a military vehicle to transport our colleagues inside the Masa’a area, near the Mount Al-Marwa. The shooting was extensive, coming from everywhere toward us,” he said.

He added that the companions of Juhayman were hiding in the many corners of the Masa’a. “They could see us, while we were not able to see them. With time, the security leadership made changes in their plans in a way that suited the situation,” Al-Mastouri said.

The former Editor in Chief of Arab News, Khaled Almaeena, pointed out that it was a cool morning and he had gone to Makkah to visit a cousin when he was told there was a disturbance around the Grand Mosque. “I did not pay any attention at that time because what I came to know later was unimaginable,” he said.

Crowds of people had gathered and there was a lot of commotion. “Rumors were flying of the Holy Kaaba being seized by ‘foreigners’. Some were telling different stories. I came back to Jeddah and watched the Saudi Television channel, the only one we could see in those days,” he said.

“I was working in Saudia (Saudi Arabian Airlines) but in the evening would go to work part-time at the English station of Radio Jeddah. Even there, reports were sketchy. We had to use the transistor radio to get news from outside stations like the BBC, VOA and Monte Carlo.”

He added that he decided to see for himself and “on the fourth, fifth and sixth morning I would go in my car and off to Makkah. I parked my car at a distance and observed the Holy Mosque,” he said.

“It was a sad sight to see the holiest place in Islam empty. There were no visitors streaming toward the gates. In fact, there was firing from the minarets and I could see the puff of smoke from the different minarets. There was a smell of gunpowder and smoke.”

Almaeena said that an occasional helicopter would hover high in the sky, keeping far away from the perimeter of the Grand Mosque. “The attack and seizure of the mosque took everyone by surprise. And it took time for all of us, including the security forces, to take stock of what was truly an alarming situation,” he said.

Days passed and no calls for prayers were heard, he continued. “However, after days this band of zealots was overpowered and their leader Juhayman Al-Otaibi was captured. Around the world, there was more satisfaction in the Muslim world,” he said.

The veteran journalist said he had to report on the incident for the radio, which he did by recording on an old tape recorder and then broadcasting it from Jeddah.

“The capture of the zealots and their leaders was filmed and we had to broadcast it ‘live.’ The available technology did not help. Three people were entrusted with the task. The late Badr Kurayem, one of Saudi Arabia’s leading radio and television broadcasters; Dr. Hashem Abdo Hashem, who later became editor in chief of Okaz; and myself,” he said.


“So here was Dr. Abdo writing the script in his long, flowing handwriting, Badr Kurayem reading the Arabic script and me doing an impromptu live translation, struggling with some of the adjectives that Dr. Abdo was using.” He noted that it was not an easy task but they were able to do it. “Those were dark days but luckily the siege ended,” he added.

Almaeena said that although there was no social media or instant reporting and journalism was a slow process in those days, the coverage by the Saudi press was professional.

Another prominent journalist, Mohammed Al-Nawsani, said that he was the first media personality to circle the Kaaba after the offenders were arrested.

“You can’t imagine how difficult those days were, as the Kaaba is Qibla of all Muslims. Much though I was shocked to know that the Grand Mosque was captured, I was even much more overjoyed and proud of our security men and their professionalism in dealing with the incident,” he said.

Like father is not like son

Hathal bin Juhayman Al-Otaibi, the son of the extremist who seized the Holy Mosque in 1979, has overshadowed his father’s radical legacy and was recently promoted to the position of colonel in Saudi Arabia’s National Guards. Hathal was only one year old when his father attacked the Grand Mosque.

Many Saudis on social media described the news of the promotion as an example of “fairness” by Saudi Arabia. They lauded the fact that the son of someone who initiated extremism in the country has now become an integral part of the security apparatus.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1371221/saudi-arabia


Son of extremist behind 1979 siege of Makkah
is Colonel in Saudi National Guards



Juhayman al-Otaybi - Hathal bin Juhayman al-Otaybi
September 4, 2018

Jeddah: Hathal bin Juhayman al-Otaybi, the son of an extremist who seized Makkah and the Grand Mosque in 1979, has overshadowed his father’s radical legacy and was recently promoted to the position of colonel in Saudi Arabia’s National Guards.

The rise of extremism in Saudi Arabia began with Hathal’s father on November 20, 1979, when a group of 200 to 300 young men led by Juhayman al-Otaybi stormed the Great Mosque of Makkah. The incident lasted two weeks, and hundreds were killed as a result.

Hathal was only one-year-old when his father attacked Makkah.

Many Saudis on social media have been sharing the news of the promotion, some of whom say this is only possible in a “moderate and just” Saudi Arabia.

They lauded the fact that the son of someone who initiated so much extremism in the country has now an integral part of the security apparatus.

“His father, Jahayman, was the leader of the terrorist group that attacked the Grand Mosque in Makkah in 1979. Now this is the son Hathal, who has ascended to the rank of Col. Had he been the son of another country, they would have gotten rid of him,” one Twitter user wrote.

http://ummid.com/news/2018/September...al-guards.html
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Old September 14th, 2018, 10:13 PM   #11679
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Salams

A message is circulating here in UK that saidi want to charge 2000 riyals for umrah visa.. is this true?

Jzk
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Old September 14th, 2018, 10:14 PM   #11680
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Correction ***Saudi
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