DiplomaticQuarter: UK hosts Ramadan iftar in Makkah and hails Saudi services to British pilgrims

British Consul General Seifeldin Usher meets pilgrims during iftar at the Hilton Makkah and Convention Center. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 16 May 2019

DiplomaticQuarter: UK hosts Ramadan iftar in Makkah and hails Saudi services to British pilgrims

  • British Consulate General placed great value on the existing relations between Makkah and the UK

MAKKAH: Britain has fueled its appetite to strengthen ties with Makkah by hosting a Ramadan iftar in the holy city. The British Consulate General in Jeddah on Tuesday provided fast-breaking meals at the Hilton Makkah Convention Hotel in Jabal Omar, the first time the country has staged an iftar in Makkah.

The consul general and UK special envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Seifeldin Usher, said: “This is an important iftar for us. This is the first time that the British Consulate General in Jeddah has hosted a Ramadan iftar in Makkah itself. Usually, of course, we host regular iftars in Jeddah, but really what we wanted to try and do this year was come to the people of Makkah,” said Usher.

He added that the British Consulate General placed great value on the existing relations between Makkah and the UK. “We’ve always enjoyed very good relationships here in the city, particularly with the Makkah Chamber of Commerce.

“But what we really wanted to do was engage more, be more visible and show how really important relations are between Makkah and the United Kingdom, whether on a commercial level with lots of British companies involved, including in the Jabal Omar development, but also such a huge priority from the terms of the British government is the number of British pilgrims who are coming to the Kingdom and into Makkah every year,” he added.

“The figure that we’ve seen for last year was over 100,000 which makes it the biggest European grouping in terms of the numbers of pilgrims coming.

“When we called on the Ministry of Hajj recently, we heard that already the number of British pilgrims preforming Umrah had reached 95,000, so with a few months yet to go we would expect it to be an increase on the number last year.”

The consul general applauded the Saudi authorities for facilitating the Umrah journey for British pilgrims.

“We have to thank the Saudi authorities for all the ever-improving standard of services and facilities that are provided for British pilgrims,” Usher said.

Usher arrived in the Kingdom in September 2018 and is planning on supervising the journey of Hajj for British pilgrims this year.

“This is my first Ramadan in the Kingdom and Insha’Allah during Hajj, I intend to be on the ground here in Makkah, in Mina and Muzdalifah to have the opportunity to welcome British pilgrims, and as part of our consulate team we’ll have people on the ground engaging and supporting the British pilgrims performing Hajj.”


Saudi Arabia condemns attack on church in Burkina Faso

Updated 12 min 59 sec ago

Saudi Arabia condemns attack on church in Burkina Faso

  • Gunmen killed 24 people, including a church pastor, and kidnapped three others in the attack in Dori
  • More than 1,300 civilians were killed in attacks last year in Burkina Faso, more than seven times the previous year

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has condemned a terror attack on a church in northeast Burkina Faso in which 24 people were killed and three kidnapped.

The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed the Kingdom’s condolences to families of the victims, and the government and people of Burkina Faso, and reiterated its rejection of violence, terrorism and extremism.

On Sunday, gunmen killed 24 people, including a church pastor, and kidnapped three others in Burkina Faso. It was the latest attack against a religious leader in the increasingly unstable West African nation. Sihanri Osangola Brigadie, mayor of Boundore commune, said the attack occurred in the town of Pansi in Yagha province. 

About 20 attackers separated men from women outside a Protestant church. At least 18 people were injured.

“It hurt me when I saw the people,” Brigadie said after visiting some victims in a hospital in Dori town, 180 km from the attack.

Both Christians and Muslims were killed before the church was set on fire, a government security official said. Attacks have targeted religious leaders in the area in the past. 

Last week a retired pastor was killed and another abducted by gunmen, according to an internal security report for aid workers.

More than 1,300 civilians were killed in attacks last year in Burkina Faso, more than seven times the previous year, according to Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, which collects and analyzes conflict information.

The insecurity has created a humanitarian crisis. More than 760,000 people have been forced from their homes in the country, according to the government.