Saudi Arabia praised for successful Hajj season

Time: August 13, 2019  

The General Authority for Statistics said that the number of male pilgrims who performed Hajj this year reached 1,385,234, while the number of female pilgrims was 1,104,172. (SPA)
  • Chechnya President Ramzan Akhmadovich Kadyrov extended his congratulations to the king and crown prince on Eid Al-Adha

MINA: King Salman received a phone call from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan congratulating him on the occasion of Eid Al-Adha, the Saudi Press Agency reported. Erdogan also lauded the success of Saudia Arabia’s Hajj plans, praising the efforts under the king’s leadership to facilitate the annual pilgrimage for millions of Muslims.
King Salman said the Kingdom would do everything it could so that pilgrims could perform their rituals with ease, security and safety.
Chechnya President Ramzan Akhmadovich Kadyrov also extended his congratulations to the king and crown prince on Eid Al-Adha.
He praised Saudi Arabia for its achievements and services at the holy sites of Arafat, Muzdalifah and Mina, stressing that these efforts were appreciated and welcomed by all Muslims.
He said the success of the Hajj was a message to anyone doubting the Kingdom’s leading role in the service of the Two Holy Mosques, calling on all Muslims to support Saudi Arabia in the challenges it faced.
The secretary-general of the Arab Red Crescent and Red Cross Organization, Dr. Saleh bin Hamad Al-Tuwaijri, also congratulated King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Makkah Gov. Prince Khalid Al-Faisal on the success of this year’s Hajj season.
Al-Tuwaijri praised the Kingdom’s massive development projects, which are aimed at serving pilgrims and visitors to the Two Holy Mosques.
Egypt’s Parliamentary Affairs Minister Omar Marwan expressed his appreciation for the king and crown prince’s services to Hajj. He said that the good planning and wealth of experience among Saudi authorities and agencies meant that pilgrims were able to move between sites smoothly, as well as perform their Hajj rituals with ease.
The chairman of the African Scholars Forum, Sheikh Mohammed Alhafiz Alnahawi, remarked on the development of services provided to pilgrims in Makkah, the holy sites and Madinah.

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Saudi ‘White Vests’ set out to help pilgrims

Time: August 12, 2019  

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Video grab of White Vests volunteers in action.
  • “White Vests” is an umbrella organization of volunteer groups, organized by the Saudi Ministry of Labor and Social Development

JEDDAH: A Saudi youth tradition of volunteering to help Hajj pilgrims complete their journey has been strengthened this year through a special government initiative.

The White Vests, an umbrella group covering a range of volunteering sectors, was organized by the Saudi Ministry of Labor and Social Development.

Many volunteer groups play a crucial role in helping pilgrims, offering medical assistance, safety advice and general guidance.

The Saudi Arabian Boy Scouts Association joined forces with the White Vests this year, complementing the efforts of government entities involved in Hajj season, such as the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, the Ministry of Health and the Muslim World League.

The Twitter account @SaudiNVG has gained over 20,000 followers since joining the platform in January with a message for volunteers from around the Kingdom.

In a video posted by @SaudiNVG, orthopaedic surgeon and consultant Dr. Mohammed Abu-Nawas, a White Vests Hajj volunteer, said: “In Makkah, we are all servants to the guests of Allah, and we learn from them, and communicate with them with the right Islamic way of thinking. And we build with them a cultural bridge through technology.”

Boy scout Essam Al-Shaman, 20, a student at the University of Tabuk, has been a Hajj volunteer for seven years.

“I volunteered for the Ministry of Education for five years, and this is my second year volunteering with the university,” he told Arab News.

“I enjoy volunteering because of all the kind prayers I receive from pilgrims. It is a humanitarian service. I would like to pursue what I grew up doing and I hope to reach the level of scout commander — and hopefully I will continue to volunteer to help pilgrims every year,” he said.

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British Council official praises Hajj authorities on ‘wonderful’ pilgrimage

Time: August 12, 2019  

The head of the British Council in Saudi Arabia praised Hajj authorities on the successful operation of the Islamic pilgrimage. The Hajj authorities “have done a wonderful job” in providing services and facilities to over two million people to ensure the pilgrimage goes “smoothly,” Amir Ramzan said.

For more on this story: https://bit.ly/2OR1tvm

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Community initiative aims to link doctors, pilgrims

11/08/19

High-tech devices are being provided to needy patients inside their camps. (AN photo by Essam Al-Ghalib)

Drive to facilitate communication between health service providers and Hajjis
MINA: An initiative in Makkah has provided financial support to supply interpreting devices in 120 languages, in partnership with the Community Participation Department of the Makkah Health Department. It is also helping to employ interpreters working around the clock in operations rooms.

Dr. Waddah Abu Talib, director of Mina Al-Jisr Hospital in Mina, said that a number of community bodies and members, including businessmen, in Makkah have participated in this initiative to provide 73 devices that interpret 120 languages, as well as 14 interpreters/translators who are offering their services 24 hours a day through the Ministry of Health.
This initiative aims to facilitate communication between service providers and pilgrims in hospitals and primary care centers in the holy places and Makkah, he said.
The 14 interpreters/translators are working around the clock to provide their services through the Ministry of Health.

100
glucose monitoring devices are being provided for free to patients in need inside their camps.

The languages they cover include English, Persian, Turkish, French, Swahili, Russian and Urdu, which are the most commonly used languages by patients visiting hospitals in Makkah and the holy places.
The supervisor of the Community Participation Program, Mahassen Hassan Shuaib, said that these services are courtesy of the Saudi people, and specifically the people of Makkah, to support the pilgrims in partnership with the Siqaya and Rifada Committee of the Makkah Municipality.
She added: “In addition to that, 100 blood pressure monitoring devices and 100 glucose monitoring devices are being provided for free to patients in need inside their camps, alongside water, umbrellas and shoes.”

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King Salman arrives in Mina to oversee facilities for pilgrims

11/08/19

King Salman at the Mina Palace on Saturday Aug. 10, 2019. (SPA)

King Salman was received at Mina Palace by several senior officials, including Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif
MINA: King Salman arrived in Mina on Saturday to oversee facilities for Hajj pilgrims and ensure that they are comfortable.

Almost 2.5 million Muslims from all over the world are participating in Hajj, one of the largest annual global gatherings.

On Saturday, pilgrims spent the day in Arafat where it rained heavily during the afternoon. After sunset, they made their way to Muzdalifah.

Muslims who are not performing Hajj will celebrate the first day of Eid Al-Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifice, on Sunday.

King Salman was received at Mina Palace by several senior officials, including Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif.

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Saudi ministry offers Hajj hotline and ‘Fatwa Robot’ service

11/08/19

The robot will provide pilgrims under the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ guests program with fatwas and other religious advice. (SPA)

There is a version of the remote-controlled Fatwa robot designed for people with special needs
JEDDAH: The Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs is offering a free hotline to answer all questions related to pilgrimage rituals on the contact number 8002451000.
The service covers eight languages, including Arabic, English, French, Urdu, Turkish and Indonesian.
Pilgrims can choose to listen to electronic messages about the rites of Hajj and Umrah, general messages from the ministry and rulings from the permanent committee of religious researchers.
Moreover, they can speak directly to one of the ministry’s Islamic guidance representatives, who are available 24 hours a day.
The team is made up of dozens of religious preachers who will provide information on Hajj procedures and answer all queries.
The ministry has offered this service for six years in a row. When it first started, the hotline only provided 8 hours of contact time.
The average number of calls per day exceeded 1,030 during last year’s Hajj.

1,030
Average number of calls per day exceeded during last year’s Hajj.

The ministry has also launched the “Fatwa Robot” service.
The robot will provide pilgrims under the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ guests program with fatwas and other religious advice.
Users will be able to connect through video calls with a group of Muftis in the Ministry of Islamic Affairs to access fatwas and advice in a number of languages.
There is a version of the remote-controlled Fatwa robot designed for people with special needs.

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Arab News has the Hajj pilgrims covered

10/08/19

There are more than 2 million pilgrims attending Hajj. (Arab News/Huda Bashatah)

Pilgrims can be seen at all parts of the Hajj journey sheltering from the sun. (Arab News/Huda Bashatah)

It’s unlikely to rain during the pilgrimage – but at least they are prepared. (Arab News/Huda Bashatah)

Most of the pilgrimage is spent outdoors. (Arab News/Huda Bashatah)

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Why Qatari support for political Islamism is a menace

10/08/19

I remember the 1960s and 70s only too well. Internationally it was the height of the Cold War. In Britain there was regular industrial unrest, fueled by militant trades unions and often inept senior management and politicians. In the 1970s, the National Union of Miners (NUM) under Arthur Scargill, like many of his colleagues a former communist with pronounced Marxist views, were a thorn in the flesh of successive governments. In the 1974 general election, the question became: Who governs Britain? During the miners’ strike of 1984-85 the NUM received funding from Qaddafi’s Libya and the Soviet Union.

Thanks to the release of official papers and the work of some diligent journalists, we now know a lot more about the efforts the USSR and its Eastern European satellites made to target trades unionists and prominent politicians as potential agents of influence. They were extensive and well funded. They sometimes succeeded. Much the same happened across the whole of Western Europe, where communist parties were often stronger than in the UK.

Acutely aware of the threat to national security, government ministers regularly registered their deep concern. In 1966, Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson denounced the leaders of a dockers’ strike as “politically motivated men.” In the mid-1970s another Labour Prime Minister, James Callaghan, and his finance minister, Denis Healey, bravely stood up to extreme left-wing pressure at successive Labour Party conferences. Later, Margaret Thatcher and Neil Kinnock from opposite ends of the political spectrum took firm stands against those they believed sought to undermine democratic politics and an open economy.

They did so because Marxist-Leninism aimed not to advance or improve the liberal capitalist system that formed the basis of British and other European democracies, but to overthrow and replace it.

Marxist-Leninism in its various forms is still with us, but it lacks a determined state sponsor. Its cause was severely damaged by the failure of the Soviet Union, at least as long as that remains a living memory. The new threats to liberal democracies and open economies come from elsewhere. One such source is the emerging new authoritarianism in China, Russia and elsewhere, which seeks to take advantage of the messiness of the democratic process, political stresses in Europe and the US and new and sophisticated digital tools. These authoritarians certainly wish to rebalance the global order in their own favor. But they don’t particularly want to replace — as opposed to shape — other political systems, at least not yet.

This is not the case with another threat to liberal democracy, that of political Islamism. The UK newspaper The Times published two reports last week about huge amounts of funding being channeled by Qatar through certain banks and charitable institutions to Islamist causes in Britain. This year two journalists in Paris published the latest in a series of French books on the subject, Qatar Papers, detailing claims of a massive network of Qatari funding across Europe designed to benefit Islamist causes and groups, notably the Muslim Brotherhood. The book describes what is happening as “entryism,” a word once commonly used to describe alleged communist subversion of Western institutions, and which has come back into vogue in the UK as a consequence of the rise of Jeremy Corbyn.

The UK newspaper The Times published two reports last week about huge amounts of funding being channeled by Qatar through certain banks and charitable institutions to Islamist causes in Britain.

Sir John Jenkins

This has predictably caused a bit of a fuss, but it is an important and timely warning. The principle of non-intervention is an established part of international law, even if what it means in practice in a highly interdependent world is much less clear. States have a broad if not unrestrained right to sovereignty and to their own domestic political, social and economic arrangements in so far as they pose no threat to others. But Islamism, like communism, does not seek to compete with other systems in friendly (or unfriendly) rivalry. It seeks to replace them.

This is a highly sensitive subject, for both Muslims and non-Muslims. But that cannot mean we must be silent. The matter is too urgent. Islamism is the purposeful mobilization of religious and cultural identity in the interests of a sometimes violent but always socio-revolutionary supercessionist and often transnational political enterprise. In pursuit of this it views the extraordinarily complex, diverse and rich civilisation of Islam through the lens of an absolutist and impoverished historicism and claims an exclusive right to decide the exact nature of Islam and the true identity of a Muslim. This can be totalitarian and is certainly deeply destabilising. A brief glance around the Middle East and North Africa suggests several reasons why this might be so. It is equally damaging outside majority-Muslim countries, where social cohesion and national identity have become matters of huge concern at a time of economic turbulence and increasing national populism.

Saudi Arabia was once a patron of numerous Islamist groups globally, for a number of complex reasons; some to do with the threat from Nasser’s Egypt and other varieties of trans-national Arabism, some doubtless to do with a misplaced confidence that the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood simply wanted to promote Islam. By 2002, when the late Prince Naif gave his famous interview on the subject to the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Siyasseh, those illusions had been well and truly shattered, and the Kingdom now seeks other paths.

Qatar, for reasons I still fail to understand, seems not to wish to apply the same lessons, in spite of repeated promises to fellow Gulf leaders. Turkey seems to be following suit not just in parts of the Middle East and North Africa but in Germany, Austria and the Balkans. This is a big problem. And it will remain a problem as long as the Muslim Brotherhood and other forms of political Islamism receive state backing in their attempts to replace not just the international but also domestic political, social, economic and cultural orders with one of their choosing.

• Sir John Jenkins is a senior fellow at Policy Exchange. Until December 2017, he was Corresponding Director (Middle East) at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in Manama, Bahrain and was a Senior Fellow at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs. He was the British ambassador to Saudi Arabia until January 2015.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News’ point-of-view

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Worshippers gather on Mount Arafat on the second day of Hajj

10/08/19

The second day of Hajj is known as the Day of Arafat when the pilgrims travel to the mountain. (Arab News/ Ali Khamg)

An emotional woman looks up to the sky as she prays at Mount Arafat. (Arab News/ Ali Khamg)

Arafat day when the pilgrims revisit the site hill where the Prophet Mohammad delivered his final sermon some 1,400 years ago, calling for equality and unity among Muslims.(Arab News/ Ali Khamg)

It is not required to climb the hill, but many still do. (Arab News/Huda Bashatah)

  • Heavy rain drenched pilgrims and provided respite from the summer heat
  • Hajj pilgrims arrived at Mina on Friday where they remained in the city until sunrise

ARAFAT: Over two million pilgrims arrived at Mount Arafat on Saturday as Hajj approached its peak.

Some of the pilgrims had tears streaming down their faces as the men and women raised their hands in worship on the slopes of the rocky hill.

Arab News

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Our reporter @Ruaa_Alameri is at on day two of the Hajj pilgrimage

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Many walked through the pre-dawn darkness early Saturday to the hill where the Prophet Mohammad delivered his final sermon some 1,400 years ago, calling for equality and unity among Muslims.

Security authorities organized the roads and guided pilgrims in order to ensure their safe passage. The various government sectors have also offered hair, catering and medical services to worshippers.

Arab News

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Arab News is among the pilgrims as they embark on day two of their journey at https://bit.ly/2GVz5BK 

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One of the largest religious gatherings on earth, the second day of the hajj is often the most memorable for pilgrims.

Hajj pilgrims arrived at Mina on Friday where they remained in the city until sunrise on the second day of Hajj and then travelled to Mount Arafat.

They stand shoulder to shoulder with Muslims from around the world seeking God’s mercy and blessings.

Later in the day the skies turned grey as they filled with heavy rain clouds and spilled open, drenching everyone below.

But the turn in conditions did not dampen spirits and many of the pilgrims could be seen praying during the storm, expressing their joy for rain.

“I feel so happy, I feel as if my Hajj has received more mercy from Allah,” one pilgrim told Arab News in reference to the rain.

Pilgrims caught in the rain, stopped and prayed, expressing their gratefulness of the sudden downpour. (Huda Bashatah/Arab News) 

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Hajj through history

10/08/19

In this Dec. 26, 2007 photo, hundreds of thousands of pilgrims pack the courtyard of the majestic Grand Mosque in Makkah. (AFP file photo)

Center of Islam

The Kaaba’s then gold-and-silver door went through several changes over the years. It took three years to build this particular door, which had a metal base, with two wooden shutters fixed on its surface. It was decorated with silver and copper and plated with gold.

A glimpse from the past

An old photo of Hajj in 1975. (Social media photo)

Seeking God’s blessing

During circumambulation, pilgrims kiss the black stone or touch the Kaaba or the black silk and cotton fabric, called the Kiswa, which covers it. (Shutterstock)

Golden memories

An old photo showing the process of making the Kaaba’s cover Kiswa in the 1970s. (Social media photo)

Holy guests 

A file photo from Hajj 1978.

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