New Zealand terror victims’ families arrive in Jeddah to perform Hajj

1 / 10
2 / 10
Families of victims of the March 2019 attack on mosques in New Zealand, arrive at Jeddah airport on August 2, 2019, prior to the start of the annual Hajj pilgrimage in the holy city of Makkah. (AFP)
3 / 10
Family members of victims from the New Zealand mosque terrorist attack arrive in Jeddah to perform Hajj. (SPA)
4 / 10
Family members of victims from the New Zealand mosque terrorist attack arrive in Jeddah to perform Hajj. (SPA)
5 / 10
Families of victims of the March 2019 attack on mosques in New Zealand, arrive at Jeddah airport on August 2, 2019, prior to the start of the annual Hajj pilgrimage in the holy city of Makkah. (AFP)
6 / 10
Family members of victims from the New Zealand mosque terrorist attack arrive in Jeddah to perform Hajj. (SPA)
7 / 10
Families of victims of the March 2019 attack on mosques in New Zealand, arrive at Jeddah airport on August 2, 2019, prior to the start of the annual Hajj pilgrimage in the holy city of Makkah. (AFP)
8 / 10
Families of victims of the March 2019 attack on mosques in New Zealand, arrive at Jeddah airport on August 2, 2019, prior to the start of the annual Hajj pilgrimage in the holy city of Makkah. (AFP)
9 / 10
James Munro, Ambassador of New Zealand to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, speaks with the families of victims of the March 2019 attack on mosques in New Zealand, upon their arrival at Jeddah airport on August 2, 2019, prior to the start of the annual Hajj pilgrimage in the holy city of Makkah. (AFP)
10 / 10
Family members of victims from the New Zealand mosque terrorist attack arrive in Jeddah to perform Hajj. (SPA)
Updated 04 August 2019

New Zealand terror victims’ families arrive in Jeddah to perform Hajj

  • King Salman last month directed that the families of the attack on two mosques that killed 51 people, are hosted for this year’s pilgrimage
  • The reception was attended by New Zealand ambassador to the Kingdom James Monro and other officials

JEDDAH: Family members of victims from the New Zealand mosque terrorist attack have arrived in Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj.
The pilgrims flew into King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah on Friday.
King Salman last month directed that the families of the attack on two mosques that killed 51 people, are hosted for this year’s pilgrimage.
They were received by the director of passports at the airport, Col. Sulaiman Al-Yousef.
The reception was attended by New Zealand ambassador to the Kingdom James Monro and other officials.
Monro said the invitation from King Salman was an “exceptionally noble gesture.”
“This move was highly appreciated by the people of New Zealand, not only by the visiting pilgrims,” he said.
The attack on worshippers at Al-Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Center in Christchurch during Friday prayers in March sparked a global outcry.
Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian white supremacist, also wounded 49 people when he opened fire on the mosques. His trial is due to begin next year.
About 6,000 pilgrims will perform Hajj this year as part of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ guests program for Hajj and Umrah, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
King Salman has issued directives to host 2,000 family members of Yemeni soldiers, 1,000 pilgrims from Sudan, 200 family members of the victims of the terrorist attacks in Christchurch, and 1,000 family members of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces.
The total number of beneficiaries of the program since its inauguration has reached 53,747 pilgrims from around the world.
Islamic Affairs Minister Sheikh Abdullatif Al-Asheikh said that hosting the families during the Hajj season was part of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to “confront and defeat terrorism” in all its forms.
Earlier, Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr. Mohammed Salih Bentin reiterated the Kingdom’s call to pilgrims to dedicate their time to performing Hajj rituals, and to be considerate of their fellow pilgrims.
They must focus on feeling the spirituality of the journey and distance themselves from distractions, such as sectarian or political slogans, the minister said.
“The Kingdom will not tolerate conduct that disturbs Hajj rituals, and the authorities will take the necessary measures to prevent them.”


Saudis head out as lockdown eases

Updated 29 May 2020

Saudis head out as lockdown eases

  • First day of phased reopening sees visitors flock to waterfronts and malls

JEDDAH/RIYADH: As the 24-hour-curfew period ended, residents of Saudi Arabia headed back outside on the first day of the government’s three-phase plan to transition back to normality after the COVID-19 pandemic.

But as people rushed to take advantage of the newly relaxed measures, streets quickly became crowded and several observers noticed that many were failing to observe social-distancing measures.

Prince Abdulrahman bin Mosaad tweeted: “For there to be traffic in the streets is natural after canceling the 24-hour curfew, but what’s abnormal and unbelievable is the amount of people underestimating the necessity of putting on a face mask and a pair of gloves and keeping a two-meter space between people crowding at stores. This is only the first day. Unfortunately, I don’t think Shawwal 29 (June 21) will be the day we go back to normal.”

In a follow-up tweet, Prince Abdulrahman reminded people that the pandemic does not have a cure or a vaccine yet, and wondered whether people would need to lose a loved one before they came to appreciate the severity of the situation.

University lecturer, Abdulfattah Al-Qahtani (@fattah53), agreed, tweeting: “Sadly, not many understand the dangers of the virus, and what they could be doing to their loved ones. It’s very simple; don’t go out unless it’s necessary. If you absolutely have to, follow precautionary measures from wearing a mask to keeping an acceptable distance between you and others.”

Abdulaziz Al-Omar (@11a_alomar) also replied with suggestions. “It’s important to monitor and penalize facilities and shops that do not follow precautionary regulations, as well as fines against those who don’t wear a mask and don’t keep their distance from others,” he tweeted.

The hashtag #JeddahNow was quickly trending on Twitter in response to the number of people leaving their homes unnecessarily.

A number of users suggested that individuals neglecting social distancing and going out in public without a mask and gloves would be “more afraid of a SR10,000 fine than they are of the pandemic.”

However, many thought that people were overreacting to the traffic around the city’s corniche.

Sa’ad Mughram (@saad_mghrm) tweeted: “Don’t blame people for traffic. There are families that have been pressed together for three months in small apartments and reef houses. It’s their right to go out and see the sky on a short car ride.”

He added: “Overcrowding stores needs to be addressed, but things can be dealt with calmly, without overreacting and perfectionism from some.”

Sadly, not many understand the dangers of the virus, and what they could be doing to their loved ones. 

Abdulfattah Al-Qahtani , University lecturer

Some hailed the efforts made by several popular stores around the Kingdom that are enforcing social distancing, such as Madinah’s Starbucks, where a photo circulating on social media showed people lined up with the recommended space between them, demonstrating what was described as “classy behavior.”

Abdullah Al-Humaid, (@abn_humaid) commented: “It’s wonderful to see such awareness displayed in our society. These are people maintaining social distancing while wearing gloves and face masks.”

Meanwhile, many headed onto the streets of Riyadh looking to regain a sense of normality. “Of course, I went out. I took my mom and sister and drove to the nearest mall to run some errands,” 26-year-old Sarah Al-Jasser told Arab News.

However, Al-Jasser said she was unable to enter the shops inside the mall because of long queues. “I was surprised that people were out this early. We were at the mall by 9:30 a.m. and didn’t expect it to be this crowded,” she said.

By 2:30 p.m. most shops and malls were already closed and empty of customers and shopkeepers, abiding by the 3 p.m. curfew.

Rayed Mustafa, 33, told Arab News he believes the situation is still unsafe: “Just because the country is opening up doesn’t mean it’s safe to go out.”  However, that did not stop him from leaving  the house. “I pulled an all-nighter, put on my face mask and gloves and hit the streets at 6:30 a.m. to cruise the city.”

He added that he stayed in his car and was merely hoping to get some fresh air for his mental well-being. “I’ve been confined in a very small apartment for over a month,” he said. “I needed that change of scenery.” 

He said he made sure to abide by the safety and health measures put in place by the Ministry of Health, and refrained from mingling with people.

Mustafa was taken aback by the number of people he saw on the streets. 

“One of the main streets in Riyadh was filled to the brim — some celebrating, others going out for coffee,” he added.

Billboards have been placed around the Kingdom reminding people to comply with the recommended precautions in order to ensure their safety.