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Old June 30th, 2012, 06:56 PM   #2001
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The Prophet's Mosque - Al Masjid An-Nabawi




May 2011

image hosted on flickr

بسطت كف جناحي par ALQABBANI, sur Flickr

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Old July 1st, 2012, 03:48 AM   #2002
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Food poisoning in Makkah, restaurant shut

Sunday, 01 July 2012 - 11 Shaban 1433 H

MAKKAH – Makkah Municipality closed a well-known international fast food chain in the city center after four people suffered from food poisoning. The municipality’s placed a sticker on the façade of the restaurant indicating that it has been closed due to food poisoning.

In a statement to Saudi Gazette, Abdullah Al-Zaidi, Deputy Head of the municipality’s Ajyad Branch, said a committee comprising representatives from the Ministry of Health, Department of Environmental Health and a health supervisor from the municipality took several food samples from the restaurant and confirmed that they contained microbes that sent four people to the hospital.

Al-Zaidi said that according to a decision by the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, the restaurant will remain shut for a month and be fined SR4,000.
Al-Zaidi added that Makkah Municipality will continue its intensive inspection tours of restaurants in the holy city. “With the holy month of Ramadan drawing near and malls, supermarkets, foodstuff shops and restaurants witnessing a flurry of activity, our goal is to guarantee the cleanliness and hygiene of food shops. We want to ensure that the health of residents and pilgrims is not in danger.”

http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index...20120701128649
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Old July 1st, 2012, 03:51 AM   #2003
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Uhud cave shut down


The entrance to Uhud cave is seen after the wall was built
and cement poured on the path that led to the cave.

Sunday, 01 July 2012 - 11 Shaban 1433 H

MADINAH — A joint committee from the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice and Madinah Municipality closed the Uhud cave to prevent visitors from climbing to it. Many of the visitors who climbed up to the cave were shocked when they saw the entrance had been blocked with a concrete wall. The climb to the cave takes a long time as it requires expertise and a lot of energy.

Yousuf Al-Muzainy, Executive Manager of Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) in Madinah, said he was not aware of the closure as the site is not listed as a monument in Madinah.

Visitors often climb up to the cave believing that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) sought refuge in the cave after the battle of Uhud to receive treatment. Historians, however, disagree on the authenticity of the story. The ancient writings on the cave’s walls increased its popularity.

Islamic historians Tnaideeb Al-Faidi and Abdulaziz Kaaki had differing opinions on the importance of the cave. Al-Faidi said there was no proof that the Prophet had ever reached the cave.

“He was at the bottom of the mountain and did not climb it. It was very important to shut it down because of the increasing number of visitors who had wrong impressions about the cave.”

Kaaki on the other hand said the cave had been referenced in several history books but he also supported the closure due to “the wrong practices of many visitors.”

http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index...20120701128646


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Old July 1st, 2012, 04:11 AM   #2004
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Madinah airport expansion deals signed

JEDDAH: ARAB NEWS

Saturday 30 June 2012

Prince Fahd bin Abdullah, president of General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), yesterday signed key documents for the new Prince Muhammad bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah with Saudi banks and investors.

The documents included the build, transfer and operate agreement (BTOA) and direct credit agreement with banks that are to finance the project, BTO direct agreement and the novation agreement.

The new airport will have a capacity to accommodate eight million passengers in the first phase, which will be ready in three years. The capacity will be increased by 12 million in the second phase, which will be completed in 2020.

During the signing ceremony, which took place at the GACA office in Jeddah, Prince Fahd handed over the aerodrome certificate to operate Madinah airport to Tibah Airport Development Company, a consortium led by Turkish group TAV Airports.

The function was attended by Abdul Aziz Al-Anqari, deputy CEO of GACA, Ala Samman, general supervisor of the project, as well as representatives of Saudi banks and Tibah Airport Development Company.

This is the first time GACA is handing over a Saudi airport to a private company for operation. The consortium led by TAV Airports had earlier signed the build-operate-transfer contract for the development of Madinah airport.
The agreement was struck between GACA and TAV alongside partners Al Rahji and Saudi Oger. The TAV consortium was revealed as the preferred bidder in August.

The partners foresee an investment of between $ 1 billion and $ 1.5 billion. The consortium will construct a new passenger terminal by the first half of 2015, and will operate the airport for 25 years. The move also offers major opportunities for TAV subsidiaries such as ATÜ Duty Free, BTA Catering and TAV Operation Services, which are expected to enter the market as concessionaires to the new airport operator.

M. Sani Sener, TAV Airports president & CEO, said: “As TAV Airports, we are very much honored to include in our airports portfolio the construction and operation of the airport of Madinah, one of the most significant cities for the Muslim world. Our partnership with two significant major companies of Saudi Arabia gave rise to a collaboration whereby we can succeed in further airport tenders is Saudi Arabia as well.

“I am confident that increasing the capacity for the Haj and Umrah trips from Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir, operated by TAV Airports, to Madinah and the mutual communication and coordination to be enhanced will have significant contributions for the aviation sectors of Turkey and Saudi Arabia,” Sener said.
The Madinah airport project includes construction of new terminals covering 138,000 sq. meters. The new airport will have 18 departure gates with air-bridges linked to aircraft in addition to parking for 20 planes. The project’s total area will be spread over four million sq. meters.

GACA recently opened the newly established international terminal at the airport that can handle 35 flights daily. “The new terminal has the capacity to accommodate 600 passengers per hour,” GACA said, adding that the capacity would double to 1,200 passengers once the second phase of the airport project is completed.

“The second phase includes construction of the first floor, which will be completed by the end of next month,” the GACA statement said. The new terminal’s opening will improve services to pilgrims.

Earlier this year GACA completed construction of two passenger lounges at the airport for Umrah passengers.

http://www.arabnews.com/madinah-airp...n-deals-signed
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Old July 1st, 2012, 04:18 AM   #2005
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Brace yourself for 50 C in Ramadan

JEDDAH: ARAB NEWS

Saturday 30 June 2012

The Presidency of Meteorology and Environment (PME) has predicted that temperature during Ramadan in Makkah, Madinah and some other cities in the Kingdom will be relatively “high.”

This year Ramadan, which is likely to begin on July 20, falls when summer is at its height.

“Temperatures this summer will be higher than average in most parts of the country. It will reach 50 degrees Celsius in the shade,” said Murad Hashim, assistant undersecretary for climatic affairs and applied studies at the Regional Center for Drought Monitoring and Early Warning.

High temperatures will be experienced in the early days of Ramadan and will be extreme between noon and 2 p.m. in some parts of the Makkah and Madinah provinces apart from the northern and southern parts of the Eastern Province. The temperature will fall by seven degrees in the latter part of the month in Makkah and Madinah, while in the Eastern Province the drop will be by five degrees, the statement said.

The center’s Director General Abdul Rahman Mushtaq said this is the temperature of the air in the shade that is two meters higher than the ground and away from any source of short wave radiation.

He added that it would be different from the temperature directly under the sun or locations near concrete buildings or asphalt roads.

The report also advised people not to expose themselves to direct sunlight for long periods, particularly between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

According to records, the highest summer temperature recorded in Makkah since 1980 was 49.7 degrees Celsius on Aug. 7, 2010, and the lowest at 23.4 degrees Celsius on Aug.15. The highest volume of rainfall received in 24 hours in Makkah was 24.6 mm on July 23, 1995, and the strongest wind of 70 km per hour on Aug. 2, 2002.

The highest temperature recorded in Madinah in summer since 1980 was 49 degrees Celsius on July 20, 2005, and the lowest 23 degrees Celsius on Aug. 2, 1984.

The record volume of rainfall received in 24 hours in Madinah was 11 mm on Aug. 16, 1994, and the strongest wind of 120 km per hour in the northern direction on Aug. 2, 1995.

On Monday the PME dismissed recent media reports that temperatures this summer could exceed 70 degrees Celsius as baseless. The PME warned against issuing such reports because they could cause unjustified public alarm.

http://www.arabnews.com/brace-yourself-50-c-ramadan
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Old July 1st, 2012, 04:20 AM   #2006
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SR 330 Million Road Projects To Be Implemented In Makkah
BY: SPA

Saturday 30 June 2012

Makkah: The Principality of Makkah has signed contracts worth SR 330 million for implementation of road projects in Makkah.

The Acting Mayor of Makkah, Eng. Khalid bin Mohammed Al-Heij, pointed out that the projects aim to establish a sophisticated network of modern roads to eliminate traffic problems taking place in the Holy City of Makkah during periods of Hajj and Umrah seasons.

http://www.arabnews.com/saudi-arabia...emented-makkah
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Old July 1st, 2012, 06:59 PM   #2007
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Good accommodation awaits Indian pilgrims at Makkah


Buildings selected for Indian Pilgrims at Makkah. Photo: Special Arrangement
Hyderabad, July 1, 2012

Indian Haj pilgrims can look forward to decent and comfortable accommodation at Makkah Munawwara in Saudi Arabia this year. Buildings which are less than five years old have been chosen to house the 1.35 lakh pilgrims travelling through the State Haj Committees. The process ended two days ago with selection of 50,557 units in 174 buildings.

Accommodation for nearly one third of the pilgrims was finalised by S.A. Shukoor, director, Urdu Academy, who was one of the four members drafted by the External Affairs Ministry in the building selection committee. For the green category pilgrims, 59,500 units have been chosen, and for Azizia 75,500 units.

Mr. Shukoor told The Hindu that in view of the expansion work going on at Makkah, a large number of buildings within the vicinity of the grand mosque have been pulled down. Within 700 meters of the Haram Shareef, there is no building left.

The housing blocks selected for green category pilgrims are within 1500 meters of the Haram. They are mostly located at Misfila, Ajyad, Ummal Qura and Shamia areas. The other category, Azizia, is nearly 7 kms away. “All the buildings in Azizia are near the bus stop and there is good bus facility to commute to the Haram,” Mr. Shukoor said.

However, there is no guarantee that the buildings chosen by him would be allotted to Andhra Pradesh pilgrims only. They are part of the Indian pool and can be allotted to any other State pilgrims. Each building has the capacity to accommodate minimum of 100 to maximum of 1,000 pilgrims. All the buildings are well furnished with two to four lifts, Mr. Shukoor said. As per the tentative schedule, special chartered flights for Indian pilgrims might commence from September 19 to October 20. In the return direction the flights would start arriving from November 1.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/...cle3589271.ece
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Old July 3rd, 2012, 01:53 PM   #2008
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Madinah Governor readies efforts for Capital of Islamic Culture


Muslim pilgrims perform the evening prayer at the Prophet Mosque
in the holy city of Madinah in Saudi Arabia, 21 December 2006.
Monday 2 July 2012

Prince Abdulaziz bin Majed bin Abdulaziz, Governor of Madinah Region, and Chairman of Higher Committee On the Occasion of Madinah, the Capital of Islamic culture for 2013, has directed to complete the formation of main and support committees and sub-committees for the occasion.

Earlier, the Prince has directed to re-form Higher Committee for the Festival of Madinah under his chairmanship and to hold its meeting in the first half of the blessed month of Ramadan. SPA

http://www.arabnews.com/madinah-gove...slamic-culture
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Old July 3rd, 2012, 02:05 PM   #2009
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Work on Prophet's Mosque after Haj

MADINAH: ARAB NEWS

Tuesday 3 July 2012

The recently announced expansion works on the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah will begin after the Haj season this year, a reliable source said. Compensation payment to the owners of the expropriated properties for the project will also be completed by that time, the source told a local daily.

Compensation per square meter is fixed at SR 400,000. According to preliminary estimation, SR 25 billion will be paid to the properties covering an area of 12.5 hectare of land, including 100 buildings.

The buildings that are to be removed for the project include the old Maternity Hospital, some hotels, the Ashqi Building, Awqaf 2 Building and Al-Muhammadiah Waqf on the eastern side. The King Abdul Aziz Library building and some markets are to be removed on the western side.
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah ordered last month that the expansion of the Prophet’s Mosque should accommodate more than 1.6 million worshippers.

The expansion project is to be implemented in three phases. The first phase will accommodate more than 800,000 worshippers while the second and third will bring the total capacity of people the mosque can accommodate to 1.6 million.

Currently the maximum capacity of the mosque at peak times is close to 550,000 worshipers.

The expansion work will enable smooth pedestrian movement. It will also consider the architectural design of nearby buildings. Public squares close to the mosque and utilities in the area will also be improved. The area will also be developed as the heart of the city according to the plan. The existing hotels in the expansion area will be allowed to operate until the actual works begin, according to the source.

Meanwhile Sheikh Yusuf Salamah, a member of the founding committee of the Muslim World League, commended King Abdullah’s decision to expand the Prophet’s Mosque. “King Abdullah, in the first place, seeks to increase the ease and comfort of Haj and Umrah pilgrims,” Salamah said.

President of the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, who is also imam at the Grand Mosque in Makkah, described the new expansion project as unprecedented, saying the area of the mosque and surrounding courtyards would cover an area of 1.1 million square meters after the completion of the project.

http://www.arabnews.com/work-prophets-mosque-after-haj


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Old July 3rd, 2012, 02:10 PM   #2010
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Sheikh Dr.Al-Sudais Thanks King For
New Major Expansion Plan At Prophet's Mosque

Riyadh, Sha'ban 11, 1433, Jul 1, 2012, SPA

- The General President of Affairs of Holy Mosque in Makkah and Prophet's Mosque in Madinah, Sheikh Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, has expressed his thanks to and appreciation of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, for his order to implement a major expansion of the Prophet's Mosque in Madinah to accommodate more than 1,600,000 worshipers.

In an address on this occasion, Sheikh Dr. Al-Sudais said that this is the largest expansion in the history of the Prophet's Mosque, noting that the royal order came as an extension to the King's attention and care for the Two Holy Mosques in Makkah and Madinah to provide the best facilities and services to pilgrims, Umrah performers and visitors of the Prophet's Mosque to perform their rituals easily and comfortably.

http://www.spa.gov.sa/English/print.php?id=1012238

Islamic Affairs Ministry's Undersecretary Thanks King For
Expansion of Prophet's Mosque In Madinah

Riyadh, Sha'ban 12, 1433, Jul 2, 2012, SPA

The Undersecretary of Ministry of Islamic Affairs for Mosques, Call and Guidance Affairs, Dr. Tawfiq Bin Abdulaziz Al-Sudairi, has expressed his thanks to and appreciation of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, for his order to implement a major expansion of the Prophet's Mosque in Madinah to accommodate more than 1,600,000 worshipers.

Dr. Al-Sudairi said that the royal order came as an extension to the King's attention and care for the Two Holy Mosques in Makkah and Madinah to provide the best facilities and services to pilgrims, Umrah performers and visitors of the Prophet's Mosque to perform their rituals easily and comfortably.

He has thanked the King and the Crown Prince for their services to Islam, Muslims, and this dear homeland.

http://www.spa.gov.sa/English/print.php?id=1012501
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Old July 3rd, 2012, 02:13 PM   #2011
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Ramadan starts on July 20, says senior scholar


Muslims perform prayers for Eid Al-Fitr in Riyadh to mark the end of
last year's Ramadan in this August 30, 2011 file photo.
EDDAH: ARAB NEWS

Tuesday 3 July 2012

The month of fasting this year will begin on July 20 and the celebration of Eid Al-Fitr will be on Aug. 19, according to a senior Islamic scholar in the Kingdom.

Member of the Council of Senior Scholars Sheikh Abdullah Al-Manie said fasting will end on Saturday Aug. 18.

The days related to religious occasions and rites will have to be confirmed by the sighting of the new moon and royal orders.

Al-Manie added the Day of Arafat will be on Thursday Oct. 25 and the next Hijra year of 1434 will start on Nov. 15.

The tradition of the last 15 years of announcing the likely beginning of Ramadan, Eid and the Haj is to help preparations to view the new moon once the statement is made, the scholar said.

The announcement also allows sufficient time to discuss matters related to the sighting of the new moon, a local newspaper reported yesterday.
Al-Manie said: “The sun will set on the 29th day of Shawwal (the 10th Hijra month following Ramadan) corresponding to Oct. 9 at 6:23 p.m., five minutes before the moon will set at 6:28 p.m.”

The first day of Dhul Qaadah (11th Hijra month) will be Monday Sept. 17 while Dhul Hijjah will start on Oct. 17. Eid Al-Adha will be on Oct. 26, he said.

http://www.arabnews.com/ramadan-star...senior-scholar
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Old July 3rd, 2012, 02:28 PM   #2012
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Spanish-Saudi group secures loan for high-speed railway

03 July 2012

EDDAH – A Spanish-Saudi consortium which will build a high-speed railway linking Makkah and Madinah said it had obtained a SR3.04 billion ($811 million) loan facility needed to start the project.The loan was syndicated through Spanish banks BBVA , Banesto, Banco De Sabadell and CaixaBank as well as Spanish operations of Credit Agricole and Deutsche Bank.

Terms of the deal, which involves the support of state-backed Spanish credit insurer CESCE and ICO, a financial agency owned by the Spanish state, were not disclosed.Last October the Al-Shoula consortium won a 6.74 billion euro ($8.5 billion) contract from the Saudi Railways Organization to build the project, which will link Makkah and Madinah to the Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah, an entry point for millions of pilgrims, and King Abdullah Economic City, currently under construction.The consortium includes Spanish public rail companies Renfe and Adif, private builders OHL, ACS and Indra, and Saudi companies Al Shoula and Al Rosan.The contract covers the construction of 450 kilometers (280 miles) of high-speed track with the capacity to transport over 160,000 passengers a day, according to Spain’s Ministry of Public Works. It also includes the supply of high-speed trains and a maintenance service. – Reuters

http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index...20120703128810

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Old July 4th, 2012, 01:25 AM   #2013
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22 new projects to improve Haj and Umrah services


Pilgrims at Jamarat bridge complex - Haj 1432-2011
04 July 2012

TAIF – Dr. Bandar Hajjar, Minister of Haj, has said that his ministry has been working on several projects to improve services to Haj and Umrah pilgrims.

Eleven programs each for Haj and Umrah are currently being developed and professional consultants will follow up them in the field separately during Umrah and Haj seasons. Their observations will be recorded and the level of achievements will be measured for evaluation purposes. This process will be repeated several times to achieve optimum level of improvement for each program.

Speaking to Okaz newspaper Tuesday, Hajjar said the new projects were in line with a Cabinet decision to come up with a comprehensive strategy to improve Haj and Umrah services over the next 25 years.

Hajjar reiterated the ministry’s readiness for upcoming Ramadan. “Until July 1, about 3.8 million Umrah pilgrims entered the Kingdom, which is an increase of 400,000 compared to the same period last year. Currently there are 290,000 pilgrims in the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah. The rest have already returned to their countries,” the minister said.

The number of Umrah overstayers dropped considerably this year thanks to regulations laid down by the ministry to curtail this negative phenomenon, he said. In 2005, there were 450,000 Umrah overstayers but the number has been gradually brought down to 24,000 last year.

The ministry has been electronically monitoring all Umrah pilgrims to prevent anyone from overstaying his or her visa. Field inspectors are deployed in all areas with high concentration of Umrah pilgrims to ensure their wellbeing and resolve any issues they might encounter.

Hajjar said the committee that was set up earlier to re-organize services provided to Umrah performers made remarkable progress. New regulations will be issued for licensing Umrah service companies with greater emphasis on the quality of services, he added.

http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index...20120704128933
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Old July 4th, 2012, 01:30 AM   #2014
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Inshallah my dreams of making the pilgrimage.

Ya Allah help me so that I realize that .
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Old July 4th, 2012, 05:42 AM   #2015
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ibn_Ziyad View Post
Inshallah my dreams of making the pilgrimage.

Ya Allah help me so that I realize that .
May Allah help you to fulfil your dreams of making the pilgrimage. Inshallah, you will be a guest of Allah.
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Old July 4th, 2012, 05:46 AM   #2016
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Hotel expansion surges in Saudi Arabia as Mecca goes upscale


Cranes construct the Mecca Clock Royal Tower hotel and several other hotels in 2010. Rising wealth
in Islamic countries is boosting demand for a higher standard of accommodation and
contributing to a surge of hotel investment in Saudi Arabia by companies including InterContinental
Hotels Group Plc, Hyatt Hotels Corp., Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. and Hilton Worldwide Inc.
Zainab Fattah, Bloomberg News

Jun 27, 2012

The pilgrimage starts with a private jet to an exclusive airport in Saudi Arabia, where passengers are treated to a buffet while travel-company employees process their immigration documents. The visitors are then taken in air-conditioned cars and buses to the InterContinental Hotel overlooking the Grand Mosque in Mecca.

“We try to make it a little more comfortable for our clients, that’s all,” said Abdulrahman Mohammad Al-Shaya, a sales executive for Kuwait-based Al Marwa. The company offers wealthy pilgrims a seven-day package for the Hajj, the Islamic pilgrimage every able-bodied Muslim is obliged to make, for about 5,500 Kuwaiti dinars (US$19,800).

Rising wealth in Islamic countries from the Persian Gulf to Indonesia is boosting demand for a higher standard of accommodation as about 3 million pilgrims prepare to descend on Mecca for the annual Hajj in October. That’s contributing to a surge of hotel investment in Saudi Arabia by companies including InterContinental Hotels Group Plc, Hyatt Hotels Corp. and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc.

Hilton Worldwide Inc., owned by Blackstone Group LP, plans to more than double the number of hotels it operates in the country to 14, including six in Mecca. It currently runs six in Saudi Arabia. U.K.-based InterContinental will increase its room numbers by about 50% to 7,300 in the next three to five years. Hyatt, whose only Saudi hotel opened in 2009, expects to have eight more in five years.

Starwood, the Stamford, Connecticut-based owner of the luxury St. Regis and W brands, has plans to manage five more hotels, adding about 1,300 rooms. It currently has 10 hotels with about 3,000 rooms.

The boom in Saudi Arabia will increase the number of branded hotel beds available by 58% in the next few years, research company STR Global estimates. While international companies can operate hotels in Saudi Arabia, they are not allowed to own property in the country.

“The tourism industry in Saudi is rapidly expanding and our development plans reflect the growing demand for high-quality hotels in that market,” said Christophe Landais, Middle East managing director for Paris-based Accor SA. “The kingdom constitutes a strategic base for us.”

Accor, Europe’s largest hotel operator, will open a 1,315-room Pullman hotel in Mecca and another property in the south of the kingdom, Mr. Landais said. The Paris-based company plans to increase its properties in Saudi Arabia to 17 by 2015 from 12 today.

About 53,000 branded hotel rooms are currently available across the kingdom, about the same as the city of Dubai, according to STR Global. Those mostly provide five-star rooms with a few in the four-star bracket. About 19,000 are in Mecca and another 13,000 in Medina.

Religious tourism is the ‘backbone’ of inventory in Mecca

Religious visits including the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages and trips to Medina, the resting place of the Prophet Mohammed, still dominate Saudi Arabia’s tourism industry. Last year, the country hosted 10.6 million pilgrims and religious visitors out of 15.4 million foreign arrivals overall, according to Business Monitor International. BMI estimates arrivals will increase by an average 6% annually until 2016.

The Saudi Ministry of Hajj says it expects a record number of pilgrims this year. In 2011, 2.5 million passed through Jeddah’s airport on 10,650 flights.

“There is some kind of a catch-up in terms of capacity building,” Jarmo Kotilaine, the Jeddah-based chief economist at National Commercial Bank, said by phone on June 14. “There has been a long period when there was very little addition.”

Rising visitor numbers only tell part of the story. The government’s drive to improve health and safety standards in Mecca and Medina during the Hajj is triggering demand for hotels by discouraging the centuries-old practice of accommodating pilgrims in people’s homes, said Jones Lang’s Ben Mahmoud.

“Branded hotels, regional or global, currently form the backbone of inventory in Mecca,” Ben Mahmoud said. “The trend will continue as stricter guidelines for health and safety are implemented and because a higher standard of comfort is being demanded by pilgrims.”

The market for a better class of accommodation is being fuelled by economic growth in Muslim-majority countries. Turkey’s economy expanded 8.5% last year, the third-most among Group of 20 nations after China and Argentina. Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, grew by 6.%, the most since the Asian financial crisis that ended in 1998.

“While most of the high-quality hotel supply has been five-star and four-star, Accor is seeing the emergence of real demand for other products like the economy three-star segment,” Mr. Landais said. “For the moment, that’s only fulfilled by local and unbranded hotel supply that lacks high quality standards most of the time.”

International hoteliers are also seeing opportunities in smaller cities such as Jizan, Yanbu, Khobar, Jubail and Hofuf, he said.

Mecca was a destination for religious devotion for centuries before the Prophet Mohammed’s birth in the 6th century. The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and every able bodied Muslim in the world is obliged to make the journey at least once in their lives, performing rituals like circling the cube-shaped Kaaba and sprinting between the hills of Al Safa and Al Marwa seven times. Pilgrims must spend a day on Mount Arafat and sleep a night at Muzdalafa along with millions of others.

‘It’s a really strong market’

“I wish I could have more hotels in Mecca,” said Jan Smits, InterContinental’s chief executive officer for Asia, Middle East and Africa. “In four months, you make 70% of your income. It’s a really strong market and it’s one of the most unique in the world.” The company has been in the country since the 1970s and operates one the hotels closest to the Grand Mosque.

Staffing tends to be the biggest challenge for hotel companies expanding in Saudi Arabia, according to Moustafa Said, a lawyer for Clyde & Co. who advises operators and owners in the kingdom. Securing visas for hotel workers can be a long and laborious process and government quotas for hiring Saudi nationals are hard to meet because many see the work as menial, he said. Non-Muslims are barred from entering Mecca and Medina.

“There are obviously very qualified general managers and staff who are Muslim, but the fact that you are limited to a single religion makes things more difficult,” said Mr. Said, who is based in Abu Dhabi.

The Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities, which regulates the industry, has also introduced unpopular rules such as pricing caps that may damp investment by limiting return, according to Said.

The obstacles aren’t deterring hotel operators so far as slowing economic growth stifles expansion in other countries. Saudi Arabia, holder of the world’s second-largest oil reserves, has the capacity to spend to expand its economy even after crude prices slid this year.

“The economic fundamentals look pretty good,” National Commercial Bank’s Kotilaine said. “There are good growth prospects and economic resilience. Although it may seem like a more challenging market from the prospective of a new entrant, I think it’s a more receptive market.”

http://business.financialpost.com/20...-goes-upscale/
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Old July 4th, 2012, 08:06 PM   #2017
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The end of the project to increase
the production capacity of the well of Zamzam


انتهاء مشروع زيادة الطاقة الإنتاجية لبئر زمزم

الثلاثاء 03/07/2012

انتهت الرئاسة العامة لشؤون المسجد الحرام والمسجد النبوي من الأعمال الجارية في مشروع زيادة الطاقة الإنتاجية لبئر زمزم من خلال إزالة العوائق الخرسانية المتمثلة في الأساسات الخاصة بأعمدة قبو زمزم. وكشفت جولة(المدينة)أمس عن إزالة جميع الحواجزالخشبية التى وضعت خلال الفترة الماضية لتنفيذ المشروع وعودة حركة الطائفين في صحن المطاف إلى وضعها السابق وتغطية جميع الأجزاء بالرخام الأبيض البارد ،،وأبدى عدد من الزواروالمعتمرين والمصلين ارتياحهم لعودة الوضع الطبيعي في صحن المطاف على ماكان عليه خاصة وأن موسم رمضان على الأبواب . وأوضح (للمدينة)المهندس عبدالمحسن بن عبدالرحمن بن حميد مدير عام المشاريع والدراسات بالرئاسة العامة لشؤون المسجد الحرام والمسجد النبوي أن المشروع هدف إلى زيادة الطاقة الإنتاجية لبئر زمزم، وتم تنفيذه في الجزء الشرقي من صحن المطاف وذلك من خلال إزالة العوائق الخرسانية المتمثلة في الأساسات الخاصة بأعمدة قبو زمزم.وقد أثبتت الدراسات الهيدروليكية أن إحلال الكتل الخرسانية ببحص متدرج يسمح بتخلل المياه المتدفقة من خلال الحوض المحيط ببئر زمزم مما سيؤدي إلى زيادة مؤثرة في معدل تدفق المياه إلى البئر . وأرجع سرعة إنجاز المشروع إلى الزيادة المتوقعة في معدل الاستهلاك اليومي في المواسم القادمة بعد تكامل التوسعات وتزايد زوار بيت الله الحرام.

http://www.al-madina.com/node/387825

Google translation:

The end of the project to increase the production capacity of the well of Zamzam

Tuesday, 03/07/2012

Ended with the General Presidency for the Sacred Mosque and the Prophet's Mosque of the ongoing work in the project for increasing the production capacity of your well by removing the barriers of concrete foundations for columns in the basement of Zamzam. Revealed round (City) today announced the removal of all Alhawwadzalkhhbah which developed during the last period to implement the project and the return movement Taúvin in the dish up to the status quo ante and cover all parts of white marble cold, and showed a number of Alzoarwalmatmaren and worshipers satisfaction for the return of normalcy in the Mataf on what it was a private and that the season of Ramadan at the door.

The (city's) Engineer Abdul Mohsen Bin Abdul Rahman Bin Hameed, head of projects and studies the General Presidency for the Sacred Mosque and the Prophet's Mosque, the project aimed to increase the production capacity of the well of Zamzam, was implemented in the eastern part of the Mataf and that by removing the barriers of concrete of foundations for columns basement of Zamzam. studies have shown that the establishment of hydraulic concrete blocks Bbhs graded Ptkhall allows water flowing through the basin surrounding a well of Zamzam, which will lead to an effective increase in the rate of flow of water into the well.

He attributed the rapid completion of the project to the expected increase in the rate of daily consumption in the coming seasons after the integration of expansion and increasing visitors to the House of God.

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Old July 4th, 2012, 09:26 PM   #2018
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Haramain phase two consortium obtains $811m loan

Phase one of the Haramain railway, linking between Makkah and Madinah project is now 45% complete


Jul 4, 2012

he Saudi-Spanish Al-Shoula consortium awarded the $8.5bn contract by the Saudi Railways Organisation (SRO) to build the high-speed Haramain rail link between the Hajj pilgrimage area and Jeddah has now obtained the $811m loan it needed to start the project.

The terms of the deal, which involved the support of the Spanish state-backed CESCE and ICO, were not disclosed, but the loan was syndicated through Spanish banks BBVA , Banesto, Banco De Sabadell and CaixaBank, as well as Spanish operations of Credit Agricole and Deutsche Bank.

The phase two link from Mecca and Medina to the Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah, an entry point for millions of pilgrims, will also link up with the King Abdullah Economic City that is currently under construction at the estimated cost of $50bn.

The contract covers the construction of 450km of high-speed track with the capacity to transport over 160,000 passengers a day, as well as the supply of 35 high-speed trains and a 12 year maintenance service after expected completion by the end of 2015.

The consortium includes Spanish public rail companies Renfe and Adif, private builders OHL, ACS and Indra , and Saudi companies Al Shoula and Al Rosan.

The news comes shortly after an official told Construction Week that phase one of the Haramain railway, linking between Makkah and Madinah project is now 45% complete, and is being held to the latest deadline of the 31st December 2014.

Phase one is being carried out by Al Rajhi Alliance, which is a consortium of China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC), Al Arrab Contracting Company Ltd, and Al Suwailem Company.

“The design is almost 99.5% completed and approved. We have about 150 bridges, almost 130 already concluded and submitted to the contractor, with another 20 bridges under design,” said the official.

The railway line is ultimately expected to host trains running at speeds of up to 360km/h.

http://www.constructionweekonline.co...ins-811m-loan/
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Old July 5th, 2012, 01:13 AM   #2019
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600 tourism facilities in Makkah issued licenses

05 July 2012

MAKKAH – Abdullah Al-Siwat, the director of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) branch in Makkah said that the branch had issued 600 licenses to different facilities including hotels and furnished residential units with total number of rooms exceeding 115,000 this year.

He added that the branch increased its field inspectors to carry out the SCTA’s summer and Ramadan plan during which hotels and facilities will be periodically visited to prevent any attempt to manipulate prices and to catch violators working without licenses. Inspectors will keep a close eye on travel agencies and tourist trip organizers for the same purpose, he said.

Al-Siwat urged visitors and pilgrims to make sure that a hotel or any similar facility has a license and prominently displays its room rates. He urged people to contact the SCTA at 8007550000 to report violations or file a complaint.

“The SCTA will strictly enforce laws against violators and will shut down facilities which violate these laws.”

http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index...20120705129056

Last edited by Roukaya19; November 11th, 2013 at 12:54 AM.
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Old July 5th, 2012, 06:50 AM   #2020
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Preparations in place for Ramadan

MAKKAH: ARAB NEWS

Thursday 5 July 2012

Minister of Haj Bandar Hajjar said that the ministry has completed all preparations to welcome the fasting month of Ramadan. He said arrangements are in full swing to cope with the huge influx of pilgrims from all over the world during the upcoming peak Umrah season in Ramadan.

The minister also announced that amended draft of the new Umrah law would be unveiled in the near future, Al-Watan newspaper reported.

Al-Hajjar disclosed that the ministry had been electronically monitoring all Umrah pilgrims to prevent anyone from overstaying. There are field inspectors in all areas with high concentration of Umrah pilgrims to ensure their well being as well as to resolve any issues they might encounter.

He said that about 3.8 million foreign pilgrims had entered the Kingdom as of July 1. “This is an increase of 400,000 compared to the same period last year. There are a total of 290,000 pilgrims in Makkah and Madinah at present,” he said.

The minister noted that there has been considerable decrease in the number of Umrah overstayers over the past few years. The number has dropped to 24,000 in 2011 from 450,000 in 2005. He also unveiled the ministry’s plans to introduce 22 programs to improve services and facilities for Umrah pilgrims.

Meanwhile, an economic expert estimated that Saudis spent nearly 60 percent of their income during the month of Shaaban to purchase consumer goods in preparation for the fasting month of Ramadan.

Ziyad Al-Romani, economic consultant at Prince Naif Institute of Researches and Consultancy Services, said that nearly 90 percent of retail stores in the Kingdom are run by foreign workers under coverup business.
“These foreigners are the largest beneficiaries of offers from hyper markets and superstores.

Most Saudis do not take advantage of these offers for several reasons such as their summer foreign trips and their preoccupation with other engagements including wedding and other parties,” he said.

Makkah’s municipality has readied an intensive plan to keep the city clean as well as to ensure the safety and comfort of the pilgrims and visitors. Khaled Al-Hayj, acting mayor of Makkah, said the plan focuses on intensifying cleaning work, monitoring the environment, and inspecting markets, grocery stores, restaurants and Ramadan stalls.

He said: “The municipality is set to mobilize all its resources and facilities to implement its Ramadan plan with a special emphasis on areas with a huge presence of worshippers such as the central Haram area, souks, and districts close to the Grand Mosque.”

Al-Hayj said more than 8,500 cleaning workers supplied with 676 pieces of equipment will be keeping the city clean and tidy. There will be a number of teams equipped with over 550 pesticide sprays to combat insects and flies, in addition to 181 trash compressors.

He said the municipality has formed a number of field committees to carry out inspections of commercial markets and food outlets in order to ensure they are not violating health and hygiene rules.

He added: “The plan also gives special emphasis to supervise and inspect both municipal and private slaughterhouses. “These slaughterhouses have been reinforced with workers, technicians and veterinary doctors in order to ensure the meat sold by them is fit for human consumption.”

http://www.arabnews.com/preparations-place-ramadan
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