First group of Sri Lankan Muslims begin Hajj journey

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The first batch of Sri Lankan Haj pilgrims are seen before their departure at Colombo Airport on Monday evening. (Photo Courtesy: Traveler Global)
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The first batch of Sri Lankan Haj pilgrims are seen before their departure at Colombo Airport on Monday evening. (Photo Courtesy: Traveler Global)
Updated 17 July 2019
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First group of Sri Lankan Muslims begin Hajj journey

  • 4,000 to partake in this year’s pilgrimage after Saudi Arabia increased quota

COLOMBO: Nearly 180 Sri Lankan Hajj pilgrims left for Saudi Arabia on Monday night, but not before thanking the Kingdom for the comprehensive facilities offered to them.

Mohamed Hashim Mohamed Haleem, Sri Lanka’s minister of postal services and Muslim religious affairs, said that this year’s issuing of Hajj visas was smooth due to the new e-Hajj services introduced by the Saudi government. 

“We were able to process all 4,000 Hajj visas efficiently. All of them were issued well in time,” Haleem said.

He added that officials from his ministry will be available at the airport to assist the pilgrims with their departures.

The minister said the flights of pilgrims this year will be ferried by both Saudi Arabian Airlines and Sri Lankan Airlines. Haleem, who intends to participate in this year’s Hajj, said that the last flight of Sri Lankan pilgrims will leave Colombo on Aug. 7.

Sajjath Mohammed, a journalist from Madawala News, praised the e-Hajj service, saying: “The biometric services for the visas were available to pilgrims in Kandy and Batticaloa in addition to Colombo, the capital of the island.”

Rizmi Reyal, president of the International Airline Ticketing Academy in Sri Lanka, said that this year the Hajj services from Colombo have been enhanced to give a better experience to the pilgrims. He thanked the Saudi government, the Muslim Religious Affairs Ministry in Colombo, the Saudi Embassy in Colombo and the Sri Lankan Embassy in Riyadh for playing their part in these improvements.

The Sri Lankan government will also send a medical team to attend to any urgent needs of the pilgrims before they are taken to the nearest medical facilities in the two holy cities.


Mamdouh Saif, Saudi-born musician, composer and producer

Updated 20 August 2019
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Mamdouh Saif, Saudi-born musician, composer and producer

Mamdouh Saif is one of the most popular Arabic music composers. 

The 52-year-old, born in Saudi Arabia, is a composer, pianist and music producer.

He rose to fame through his partnership with Abdulmajeed Abdullah in 1990, when Saif became the keyboard player for the singer.

In 1994, he composed for Abdullah for the first time, and since then he has acted as a producer, artistic supervisor and music consultant.

In 2005, Saif visited India and said it changed his view on life. He launched his solo career in 2006, and furthered his studies at the Berklee College of Music in the US.

Some of Mamdouh’s most popular works include Ya taib Algalb (1996) and “Harmony” (2014).

He has also composed an album to accompany a science-fiction novel written by Ahmad Al-Aidroos, with each piece of music accompanying a specific part of the literature.

Recently, the Ministry of Culture’s Quality of Life Program announced it will set up academies, including two in the next two years, offering academic qualifications and enlarging  the Kingdom’s footprint in heritage, arts and crafts, and music.

The composer called these music academies “the core of music production and talent development in Saudi Arabia,” adding that the music industry was a large and diverse field and education in it was crucial.