Saudi Arabia’s Haramain High-Speed Railway opens to public

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Saudi Arabia’s new Haramain High-Speed Railway opened to the public on Thursday, whisking Muslim pilgrims and other travelers between Makkah and Madinah. (Al-Ekhbariya)
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Saudi Arabia’s new Haramain High-Speed Railway opened to the public on Thursday, whisking Muslim pilgrims and other travelers between Makkah and Madinah. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia’s new Haramain High-Speed Railway opened to the public on Thursday, whisking Muslim pilgrims and other travelers between Makkah and Madinah. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia’s new Haramain High-Speed Railway opened to the public on Thursday, whisking Muslim pilgrims and other travelers between Makkah and Madinah. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia’s new Haramain High-Speed Railway opened to the public on Thursday, whisking Muslim pilgrims and other travelers between Makkah and Madinah. (SPA)
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Saudi passengers are seen at Makkah’s train station on October 11, 2018 as the new high-speed railway line linking Makkah and Medina opens. (AFP)
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Saudi passengers sit in the platform at Makkah’s train station on October 11, 2018 as the new high-speed railway line linking Makkah and Medina opens. (AFP)
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Saudi Arabia’s new Haramain High-Speed Railway opened to the public on Thursday, whisking Muslim pilgrims and other travelers between Makkah and Madinah. (Al-Ekhbariya)
Updated 12 October 2018
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Saudi Arabia’s Haramain High-Speed Railway opens to public

  • During Hajj, the road journey between the two holy cities can take as long as 10 hours.
  • The SR60 billion ($16 billion) mega project is the biggest railway in the Middle East and will transport 60 million passengers a year.

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s new Haramain High-Speed Railway opened to the public on Thursday, whisking travelers between Makkah and Madinah through King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) in Rabigh and Jeddah.

Rumaih Al-Rumaih, chairman of the Public Transport Authority (PTA), said: “It is a moment that marks a historical national turning point in the Kingdom’s modern transportation.”

The train will operate four days a week, from Thursday to Sunday. It is eventually expected to operate daily, by which time direct trips between Makkah and Madinah will take two hours, and trips between Makkah and Madinah stopping at Jeddah and KAEC will take an additional 20 minutes.

Al-Rumaih extended his thanks to King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for their unlimited support.

He also thanked Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal for playing “a major role in supporting the project and in overcoming obstacles during the implementation phase.”

Al-Rumaih went on to thank Transport Minister Nabeel Al-Amoudi and all other partners for contributing to the successful opening of the largest railway project in the Middle East.

Saad Al-Shehri, director-general of the Haramain High-Speed Railway in Madinah, said the train’s first public trip started by carrying 417 passengers from Madinah to Makkah.

A train traveling in the opposite direction from Makkah to Madinah with stops in Jeddah and KAEC, carrying the same number of passengers, departed at the same time.

Tickets for the Haramain High-Speed Railway can be purchased online (www.hhr.sa), as well as over the phone (920004433) or direct from ticket offices between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. A discount of 50 percent is currently available.

The Haramain High-Speed Railway project is in line with the objectives of Vision 2030, as it should help increase the number of visitors to the Kingdom’s holy places. 

The railway is capable of transporting 60 million passengers onboard a fleet of 35 trains, each one consisting of 417 seats, annually. The trains, which can travel up to 300km per hour, are equipped with the latest technology to ensure comfort and safety.

The railway covers a distance of 450km, linking stations in Makkah, Jeddah, King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah (KAIA), King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) in Rabigh, and Madinah.

The Kingdom is boosting its infrastructure spending and expanding its railways — a $22.5 billion metro system is currently under construction in Riyadh — as it seeks to diversify its oil-dependent economy.

The annual Hajj pilgrimage, which will take place in September next year, attracts more than 2 million Muslims to the Makkah region.


Saudi university leads way with new music academy

Updated 41 min 45 sec ago
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Saudi university leads way with new music academy

  • Taif University (TU) has hired some of the Kingdom's top professional music instructors
  • The music courses will include singing training, involving tuition in vocal keynotes, pitch and sight-reading exercises, and the singing of Arabic poetry

JEDDAH: A Saudi university is hitting the high notes after becoming the first in the Kingdom to offer music courses to students.

Some of the country’s top professional instructors have been hired by Taif University (TU) to run training sessions in singing, poetry and the playing of musical instruments. 

Although the courses are not part of the city university’s curriculum, education chiefs hope the program will lead the way in developing young musical talent in the Kingdom.

Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal inspired the initiative a year ago, and students are already lining up to join the new music academy on the university’s main campus.

The music courses will include singing training, involving tuition in vocal keynotes, pitch and sight-reading exercises, and the singing of Arabic poetry. Starting next month, experts will also be on hand to teach students how to play the lute, dulcimer and piano.

TU spokesman, Saleh Al-Thubaiti, told Arab News: “TU has turned an idea into reality. The academy offers several projects, the most important of which is the Prince Abdullah Al-Faisal International Prize for Arabic Poetry.”

He said that the poetry club at the TU Arab Poetry Academy had attracted more than 850 applications from students wishing to take part in poetry writing, recitation, and music, and they would be performing in concerts this semester.

Al-Thubaiti said: “The poetry-writing course will focus on teaching students aspects of Arabic prosody (the patterns of rhythm and sound used in poetry) in an innovative manner.”

Trainees will be given the opportunity to present their poems at special student soirees and publish their poetry in an online magazine for young people.

The academy also plans to launch an annual on-campus summer gathering for young poets.

Those taking part in the poetry-recitation course will learn how to recite poetry and make audio books for general listeners and people with special needs.

The TU Arab Poetry Academy recently held its first matinee event when faculty members and students recited several poems.

“The university campus is not all about work and textbooks,” Al-Thubaiti said. 

“Students are interested in other activities that can help them develop their talents and skills. We believe the university is providing an environment where students can develop themselves on various personal and academic levels.”

In December last year, the poetry academy held its first concert which was attended by the university’s governor, president, academics and students. It included poetry readings and a performance of national and traditional songs by the university band.

Director of the poetry academy, Dr. Mansour Al-Harthi, told Arab News that 500 students had enrolled on the music course, adding that the city of Taif had long been renowned for its musical activities.