329,000 people stopped from entering Makkah for lack of Hajj permit

Time: August 05, 2019  

Makkah Gov. Prince Khalid Al-Faisal tours the holy places in Makkah on Sunday. (SPA)
  • 15 arrested for illegally transporting pilgrims, 181 bogus Hajj offices closed
  • The measure is enforced during the Hajj season to prevent congestion

JEDDAH: Makkah Gov. Prince Khalid Al-Faisal on Sunday said more than 329,000 people had been stopped from entering the holy city since the start of the Hajj season for lack of Hajj permit.

More than 144,000 vehicles without permits had also been disallowed from entering the city, 15 drivers had been arrested for illegally transporting pilgrims, and 181 bogus Hajj offices had been closed, said the governor, who is also chairman of the Supreme Hajj Committee.

The measure is enforced every Hajj season to prevent congestion.

Prince Khalid said the Saudi government has mobilized more than 350,000 people from different sectors to serve Hajj pilgrims.

He also said Saudi Arabia is not responsible for obstacles put up by the Qatari government to impede its citizens who want to perform Hajj.

“We’re not responsible for what they do. We’re responsible for what we do. We’ve opened the doors of the country and our hearts to receive pilgrims from all over the world. We serve them equally, and we welcome them in the holy land,” he said.

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah had created a new webpage for Qataris who wish to perform the pilgrimage this year. It then called on Qatar not to block the webpage as it did previously.

Qatari Hajj pilgrims can register their details, browse packages and pay for them at: qatar1440.haj.gov.sa

Pilgrims “are here for Hajj and worship. Let them dedicate themselves to worship and leave the other things. They’ll be welcomed and served by Saudis,” the governor said.

This article was first published in Arab News

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New Zealand’s most senior Muslim police officer thanks King Salman for making Hajj dream come true

Time: August 05, 2019  

Superintendent Naila Hassan of the New Zealand police. (Supplied photo)
  • Superintendent Naila Hassan praises Saudi Arabia for Hajj ‘generosity’
  • “As much as it’s a journey for me, I’m here for the victims,” she says in a video

JEDDAH: Just over four months ago, police superintendent Naila Hassan was giving an emotional speech at a vigil in New Zealand for the 51 people murdered in the Christchurch mosque terrorist attack.

Now Hassan, New Zealand’s most senior Muslim police officer, is in Makkah to take part in the Hajj pilgrimage — and her dream has come true.

“As a Muslim, you just dream about seeing the Kaaba and going to Makkah and Madinah,” she said in a video thanking Saudi King Salman for hosting the Christchurch pilgrims.

“When I saw the Kaaba this morning, I was breathless, I really was.

“But … as much as it’s a journey for me, I’m here for the victims … I’m here particularly for the women and the widows that are here. I’m here to support them.”

Vigil in Auckland

Hassan described how she and about 200 other pilgrims were welcomed with petals, singing and gifts. “I’ve never experienced anything like it in my life,” she said.

“I’m thanking King Salman for his generosity. He has just been unbelievably generous to the people of New Zealand.”

The day after the March 15 Christchurch massacre, Hassan gave a speech at a vigil in Auckland in support of the Muslim community and fellow New Zealanders.

Opening with the Islamic greeting, she reassured the crowd that police were providing support to the Muslim community and everyone affected.

Saudi Arabia’s Islamic Affairs Minister Sheikh Abdullatif Al-Asheikh said on Sunday that hosting the Christchurch pilgrims was part of Saudi efforts to “confront and defeat terrorism” in all its forms.

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Officials laud Saudi efforts to serve Hajj pilgrims

Time: August 04, 2019  

Muslim pilgrims circumambulate around the Kaaba, the cubic building at the Grand Mosque, in the Muslim holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Sunday,
  • Taya urged pilgrims not to raise any political, doctrinal or racist slogans during the Hajj season

CAIRO: Makram Mohammed Ahmed, head of Egypt’s Supreme Council for Media Regulation, hailed Saudi efforts to provide pilgrims with all facilities to perform Hajj easily and smoothly.
He said that the Muslim world and the international community greatly admire and appreciate those efforts.
Meanwhile, the president of the Shoura Council of Kyrgyz Muslim Scholars, Habibullah ibn Nabi Al-Din, lauded the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ Guests Program for Hajj and Umrah.
A guest of this year’s program, he thanked the Saudi leadership for its care and interest in Islam and Muslims.
Meanwhile, the spokesman for Egypt’s Ministry of Awqaf, Dr. Jaber Taya, said Saudi Arabia provides the best services to pilgrims every year.
He praised all efforts exerted by the government and private sectors in the Kingdom to help pilgrims perform their rituals easily, comfortably and safely.
Taya urged pilgrims not to raise any political, doctrinal or racist slogans during the Hajj season.

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Saudi Arabia praised for keeping millions connected during Hajj

Time: August 02, 2019  

A policeman helps a pilgrim capture a souvenir photo at Arafat. (File/AN photo/Ahmad Hasshad)
  • “the work the government has to do here in the Kingdom on the connectivity side when there is Hajj is amazing,” says expert

RIYADH: The Saudi Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) have been praised for their efforts to improve the Hajj experience through the use of technology.

A senior official from the Internet Society, a global nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring the open development, evolution and use of the internet, congratulated the ministry and the industry regulator for the incredible achievement of providing reliable connectivity to the millions of pilgrims who visit the country each year.

Speaking to Arab News Jane Coffin, senior adviser to the CEO and president of the Internet Society, said: “One thing that is fascinating about the ministry and the regulator, the CITC, is that the work the government has to do here in the Kingdom on the connectivity side when there is Hajj is amazing.

“They have a lot of people coming in and they have worked to ensure total readiness to help with the connectivity … which is impressive.”

Jane Coffin

More than 2 million people visit Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj each year and Coffin said a huge amount of work is needed to ensure reliable connectivity for such a large number. People not only use their phones for data, text messages and instant messaging but they also take and share photos and videos, she noted.

“The burden on the network to deliver that traffic is immense,” she said. “It is an amazing achievement by the ministry and the regulator.”

Coffin is responsible for development strategy at the Internet Society, where her work focuses on coordination of collaborative strategies for expanding internet infrastructure, access and related capacities in emerging economies.

She was visiting Riyadh for an event, organized by the society and ministry, focusing on best practices for a vibrant digital environment. She said that it included discussions of internet safety and internet exchange points (IXP), the physical infrastructure through which traffic passes from one network to another, which are an integral part of the global internet infrastructure.

“We do workshops like this and work with the communities all over the region,” she added. “To bring in more internet connectivity to help with the IXP, that was the part of reason we were here.

“We are trying to help make the internet cheaper, better and faster here and create a more level playing field for everybody.”

Coffin also praised the ongoing program of reforms in support of Saudi Vision 2030, and highlighted the role of digital transformation as part of the process.

“I am sure they will carry out the mission; Vision 2030 is very impressive and it means that the Kingdom is thinking of moving in another direction, which is very important for development including literacy, business and the health sector, because connectivity underpins everything.”

She also pointed out that Riyadh will host the 15th G20 summit next year, which also represents another major boost to digital transformation in the country.

Regarding the potential for future cooperation and partnerships with the Saudi ministry, she said that while there are currently no specific plans to work together, “we are definitely talking to them more about what we can do.”

This article was first published in Arab News

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More than 7,000 teams to serve pilgrims during Hajj 2019

Time: July 31, 2019  

For the 15th year in a row, the Youth of Makkah at Your Service program has maintained its role in serving pilgrims with the participation of 500 young men. (SPA)
  • The staff are carrying out awareness initiatives to guide the worshippers in religious and organizational aspects in order to help them perform their rituals with comfort

MAKKAH: The operational plan of the General Presidency of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque is being implemented by 7,720 teams to serve pilgrims during this year’s Hajj season.
The agency’s teams are providing their services in all aspects of the plan. These include service, engineering, technical, technological, cultural, information, social aspects and oversight functions.
The staff are carrying out awareness initiatives to guide the worshippers in religious and organizational aspects in order to help them perform their rituals with comfort.
The service aspect is one of the most important field tasks in the operational plan of the agency. Staff working on these tasks are responsible for cleaning the Prophet’s Mosque, supplying all sites with carpets and Zamzam water, cleaning machinery and equipment, transferring older persons and people with special needs, providing guidance services, preparing portable containers for distributing Zamzam bottles, and ensuring the cleanliness of prayer areas and other facilities.

FASTFACT

For the 15th year in a row, the ‘Youth of Makkah at Your Service’ program has maintained its role in serving pilgrims with the participation of 500 young men.

Moreover, the staff responsible for service tasks open and guard the mosque’s doors, organize the movement of crowds as part of the initiative for clearing paths, maintain the security and safety of the mosque and its facilities, oversee parking areas, and allocate medical emergency sites and provide them with the necessary equipment.
For the 15th year in a row, the Youth of Makkah at Your Service program has maintained its role in serving pilgrims with the participation of 500 young men, who are undertaking activities during the season in partnership with several government bodies.
The acting director general of the Project for the Glorification of the Sacred City, Saud Al-Rehaili, said its activities aim to guide those who get lost inside the Grand Mosque and help older persons and those with special needs perform the Tawaf and Sai.

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Makkah prepares for Hajj symposium on coexistence and tolerance

Time: July 29, 2019  

Hajj and Umrah Minister Mohammed Salih Bentin. (SPA)
  • Islamic thinkers and scholars to take part in the two-day symposium

MAKKAH: Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr. Mohammed Salih Bentin will launch the 44th Hajj Grand Symposium on Aug. 5 under the title “Islam: Coexistence and Tolerance.”

The two-day symposium at the Hilton Makkah Convention Hotel will include Islamic thinkers and scholars from the Kingdom and other areas of the Islamic world.

Dr. Abdul Fattah bin Suleiman Mashat, deputy minister for Hajj and Umrah and general supervisor of the symposium, said: “The Hajj Grand Symposium is one of the main events the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has sponsored since its inception in 1970. Every year the symposium discusses different topics related to the Hajj season and Islamic values, thereby promoting Islam and raising awareness.

“This scientific and cultural meeting appoints the top Islamic scholars to discuss the topics with the audience and share knowledge,” he added.

Dr. Abdulaziz Wazzan, undersecretary of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah for Umrah Affairs and supervisor of the symposium’s executive committee, said: “The ministry aspires to achieve many goals through this Hajj symposium, including highlighting the cultural and civilizational role of the Kingdom, promoting scientific and cultural communication between Islamic scholars from around the world, focusing on the most important achievements and projects serving Muslims in the two holy mosques and the holy sites, and contributing to strengthening the bonds and cooperation of the Islamic nation.”

From July 30 the ministry will receive the symposium’s guests from the Kingdom and the other parts of the Islamic world. The ministry has also arranged special trips for the guests to explore historic areas and exhibitions in Makkah and Medina as well as attending the symposium’s activities.

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King Salman to host 2,000 family members of Yemeni army ‘martyrs’ during Hajj

27/07/19

King Salman will host 2,000 family members of Yemeni army and Popular Resistance soldiers who died fighting to restore the legitimate government in Yemen during this year’s Hajj. (SPA)

The 2,000 pilgrims will perform the pilgrimage as part of the ‘Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ Guests Program for Hajj and Umrah’ which is overseen by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance
Earlier, King Salman issued a directive for 200 family members of the victims of the terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand to also be hosted during Hajj
RIYADH: King Salman will host 2,000 family members of Yemeni army and Popular Resistance soldiers who died fighting to restore the legitimate government in Yemen during this year’s Hajj.
The 2,000 pilgrims will perform the pilgrimage as part of the ‘Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ Guests Program for Hajj and Umrah’ which is overseen by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance.
Islamic Affairs Minister Sheikh Abdullatif Al-Asheikh said that the family members of those who died while participating in the “Determination Storm and Restoring of Hope” operations as part of the Arab coalition supporting the legitimate government in Yemen would be hosted in a mark of appreciation of the sacrifices made by the personnel to restore unity and safety in the country.
Earlier, King Salman issued a directive for 200 family members of the victims of the terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand to also be hosted during Hajj.

This article was first published in Arab News

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88,000 Iranian Hajj pilgrims arrive in Saudi Arabia

27/07/19

Around 88,000 Iranian pilgrims have arrived in Saudi Arabia to perform this year’s Hajj, the head of the office for Iranian pilgrims’ affairs Nasser Jaber Hweizawi said. (File/AFP)

  • The Iranian pilgrims are receiving services in Madinah in coordination with the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah
  • The pilgrims experienced a high level of service provided by Saudi authorities at the airports in Madinah and Jeddah

RIYADH: Around 88,000 Iranian pilgrims have arrived in Saudi Arabia to perform this year’s Hajj, the head of the office for Iranian pilgrims’ affairs Nasser Jaber Hweizawi said.
The pilgrims experienced a high level of service provided by Saudi authorities at Prince Mohammed Bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah and King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, Hweizawi added after he held talks with the governor of Madinah Prince Faisal bin Salman.
The Iranian pilgrims are receiving services in Madinah in coordination with the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, Asharq Al-Awsat reported.
Hweizawi also said that the rapid development taking place in Madinah will have a positive impact in the near future and will help increase the capacity of Hajj and Umrah pilgrims that are received by Saudi Arabia in the coming years.
Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, the chief of the presidency of the two holy mosques, called on pilgrims to avoid politicising the Hajj and to cooperate with police officers and other officials working to keep all pilgrims safe.

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Multilingual 911 helpline to provide vital services during Hajj

27/07/19

With pilgrims making their way to Makkah, many will benefit from the 24-hour health services. (Supplied)
  • The service is quick, efficient and extremely useful for anyone with an emergency at this particularly busy time of year

RIYADH: During the Hajj season, if you have an emergency and do not know who to call, just pick up the phone and dial 911. Whatever your emergency may be, whether you are lost and in need of directions, require help on the road, have a medical emergency, find an animal on the street or even if you have lost items, a team of competent young Saudis are prepared to help.

Speaking various languages, including English, French, German, Indonesian and Urdu, the team is fully prepared to facilitate the needs of those living in the Kingdom.
As the Hajj season is about to begin, with pilgrims making their way to Makkah for the sacred rituals and visits to the holy sites, many will benefit from this service when in need, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Text messages have been sent out to mobile phones with the words: “Dear pilgrims, your service is an honor and your security is our duty. Policemen are ready to fulfill your urgent needs on 911.”
The National Center for Security Operations at the Saudi Interior Ministry launched its 911 call center just 5 years ago in Makkah, and there are now three other centers in Riyadh, Shargiyah and Madinah.
The centers are active on Twitter, updating information on the latest dust storms, highway closings due to car crashes and animal sightings on freeways.
The service is quick, efficient and extremely useful for anyone with an emergency at this particularly busy time of year.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi Islamic affairs minister to launch awareness campaign for Hajj pilgrims

27/07/19

JEDDAH: The Minister of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance Sheikh Dr. Abdullatif Al-Asheikh will launch a Hajj awareness campaign on Sunday called “Hajj is a call and a straight approach,” which will continue until the end of the season.

The campaign aims to consolidate the purposes of Hajj among pilgrims and warn against using it as an opportunity to raise any doctrinal or political slogans, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

It will also promote cooperation with security forces to achieve the safety of pilgrims, and highlight Saudi Arabia’s efforts in the service of the Two Holy Mosques, pilgrims, visitors and Umrah performers.

This article was first published in Arab News

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