King Salman prays for ‘continued security and stability’

Worshippers across the Kingdom performed Eid Al-Fitr prayers in 20,569 mosques and open-air prayer areas. (SPA)
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Updated 14 May 2021

King Salman prays for ‘continued security and stability’

  • All mosques and prayer areas maintain full health protocols

JEDDAH: King Salman performed Eid prayers in NEOM on Thursday. 

Earlier, he extended greetings to Saudi citizens and residents and Muslims all over the world.

In a tweet on Thursday, the king said: “We thank God Almighty for making the blessed Eid Al-Fitr a sign of good and satisfaction after completing the fasting and prayers of Ramadan. 

“Eid carries hope, optimism, and happiness, and we pray to God to cleanse the entire world of all evil, protect us from harm, and grant us continued security, stability, and tranquility.”

The king said this Eid is an occasion to overcome the ordeal that the world has suffered from the health, social and economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

King Salman said he was “optimistic about the positive steps in place to achieve stability in the Arab world, so that security and prosperity prevail for all parts of the globe.”

“Combating this pandemic that has befallen the world requires all of us to adhere to the health measures announced by the Ministry of Health, including social distancing, and the need to receive the vaccine, which will work to immunize our dear community of citizens and residents,” the king said.

Mask-clad worshippers entered Makkah’s Grand Mosque along socially distanced paths to offer Eid prayer. Worshippers at the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah also followed COVID-19 protocols.

As Saudi families gathered to celebrate the first day of Eid Al-Fitr, the Kingdom’s health minister urged people to follow official health precautions to combat the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“I need your attention on your Eid. Be careful, refrain from shaking hands completely, be sure to practice social distancing, and avoid large gatherings,” Tawfiq Al-Rabiah tweeted on the eve of festivities.

“Go to the Eid prayer with your own prayer mat, wear the mask constantly, sanitize your hands before and after receiving or giving Eidiya, and leave a safe distance between you and others,” he added. The minister also warned parents not to allow children to hug or kiss their grandparents, saying that such practices may endanger older members of the family.

Worshippers across the Kingdom performed Eid Al-Fitr prayers in 20,569 mosques and open-air prayer areas set up by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance.

Mosques and prayer areas were equipped with facilities in accordance with the health protocols approved by the authorities to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

The imams spoke during the Eid sermon about the blessing of completing fasting and praying qiyaam, and the importance of the continuation of good deeds after Ramadan.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia reported 11 more COVID-19-related deaths on Thursday. The death toll now stands at 7,122.

The Health Ministry reported 1,116 new cases, meaning that 430,505 people have now contracted the disease. There are 9,244 remaining active cases, 1,344 of which are in critical condition.

According to the ministry, 377 of the newly recorded cases were in Riyadh, 320 in Makkah, 134 in the Eastern Province and 71 in Madinah. In addition, 1,129 patients recovered from the disease, bringing the total number of recoveries to 414,139.

Saudi Arabia so far has conducted 17,812,376 PCR tests, with 71,457 carried out in the past 24 hours.

Saudis and expats in the Kingdom continue to receive their COVID-19 jabs, with 11,195,164 people inoculated so far.


Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone targeting southern Saudi Arabia

Updated 19 June 2021

Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone targeting southern Saudi Arabia

  • Iran-backed Houthi militia have consistently launched attacks against the Kingdom

RIYADH: The Arab coalition said it had intercepted a Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia’s Khamis Mushait, Al Ekhbariya TV reported early Saturday.
The coalition, which is fighting to restore the legitimacy of the internationally recognized government in Yemen, said it will take all measures to protect civilians in accordance with international law.
The Iran-backed Houthi militia have consistently launched attacks against the Kingdom.


Experts predict growing number of ‘digital pilgrims’ as COVID-19 pandemic persists

Updated 19 June 2021

Experts predict growing number of ‘digital pilgrims’ as COVID-19 pandemic persists

Experts predict growing number of 'digital pilgrims' as COVID-19 pandemic persists

JEDDAH: The growing role of digitization in media, advertising and services was the focus of a dialogue session held on Friday as part of the Makkah Region Digital Projects Exhibition.

Abdulfattah bin Sulaiman Mashat, Saudi deputy minister of Hajj and Umrah; Esam Al-Wagait, director of Saudi Arabia’s National Information Center; and Tony Chan, president of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, were among speakers during the session.

Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, governor of Makkah, also attended the session.

Mashat said that this year’s Hajj will witness a qualitative leap in the use of smart cards, with pilgrims’ journeys digitized from start to finish.

So far more than 450,000 requests have made through the electronic portal launched a few days ago, he said.

Saudi Arabia’s communications commission has worked to serve the pilgrims through digital systems before their arrival in the Kingdom.

Mashat said that the Ministry of Hajj is using smart cards and surveillance cameras to serve pilgrims, while artificial intelligence will increase surveillance camera efficiency and enhance security operations.

Chan said that the digital revolution will lead the economy and contribute to the operation of smart cities.

To achieve this, digital infrastructure must be flexible, secure and focused on people since sustainability is a necessity for future smart cities, he added.

 

 

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Who’s Who: Ahmad Ghazi Darwish, chief administrative officer at The Red Sea Development Co. and Amaala

Updated 18 June 2021

Who’s Who: Ahmad Ghazi Darwish, chief administrative officer at The Red Sea Development Co. and Amaala

Ahmad Ghazi Darwish is the chief administrative officer at The Red Sea Development Co. (TRSDC) and Amaala.

He joined the Red Sea project in November 2016 as executive director of PMO. He worked on achieving approval of the project vision and strategy, interfacing with the board, incorporating the company, deploying key executive positions, administrating the master plan competition and obtaining approval of the concept master plan.

Darwish became chief of staff to the CEO in April 2018. In this role, he was responsible for TRSDC’s corporate services, human resources, government and external affairs, special projects and social development, corporate performance, EPMO, smart destination, strategy and cybersecurity functions.

He fulfilled these tasks by providing guidance and support, and cultivating relationships, whether external and internal, ensuring the alignment of efforts across the company through efficient business objectives.

In December 2020, he was promoted to chief administrative officer to reflect his broadened role, following three years in the role of chief of staff.

Darwish is the official Arabic spokesperson for TRSDC with the Saudi national media and has conducted several media interviews and gatherings.

Before joining TRSDC, Darwish served 20 years with Saudi Aramco, where he managed multiple projects in information technology and additional projects with King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), including the infrastructure project of KAUST’s Research and Technology Park, and the Aramco research center at KAUST. He is a certified member of the Project Management Institute and the Saudi Council of Engineers, and holds a BSc in electric engineering from the University of Portland, US, and an MSc in electronic and electrical engineering from the University of Glasgow, UK.


Saudi Arabia announces 15 more COVID-19 deaths

Updated 18 June 2021

Saudi Arabia announces 15 more COVID-19 deaths

  • The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom has increased to 453,259
  • A total of 7,650 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced 15 deaths from COVID-19 and 1,236 new infections on Friday.
Of the new cases, 372 were recorded in Makkah, 240 in Riyadh, 213 in the Eastern Province, 115 in Asir, 89 in Jazan, 65 in Madinah, 24 in Najran, 21 in Al-Baha, 18 in Hail, 18 in Tabuk, nine in the Northern Borders region, and four in Al-Jouf.
The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom increased to 453,259 after 1,050 more patients recovered from the virus.
A total of 7,650 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far.
Over 16.3 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine have been administered in the Kingdom to date.


Hajj won't be allowed without smart card, official permit — ministry

Updated 18 June 2021

Hajj won't be allowed without smart card, official permit — ministry

JEDDAH: In an effort to ensure compliance with coronavirus (COVID-19) safety measures, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah confirmed that no one will be allowed to perform Hajj without a smart card and a documented official permit.

Dr. Abdulfattah Mashat, deputy minister of Hajj and Umrah, said that the permit will be matched with the electronic card and the pilgrim’s ID, noting that there is no platform to apply for Hajj except the official website of the ministry.

“Any company that offers service packages outside the ministry’s platform is violating the system,” he said. 

“At the first stages of the ‘Eatmarna’ application, we noticed some violations by some entities and individuals, but with the passage of time, community awareness began to increase.”

Mashat said this year’s Hajj will use permits through the “Absher” platform only. Information for those who purchased their Hajj packages on the ministry’s platform will be linked to Absher and their ID.

According to the deputy minister, more than 470,000 applications have been received as of Wednesday at 5 p.m. as all met the conditions of immunization and have never performed Hajj before.

FASTFACT

470K

More than 470,000 applications have been received as of Wednesday at 5 p.m. as all met the conditions of immunization and have never performed Hajj before.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah called on all domestic pilgrims connected with the ministry to adhere to health instructions to enable those wishing to perform Hajj.

The ministry said resident locations will apply visual and thermal screening procedures upon pilgrims’ entrance and movement.

The allocated hotels in Makkah and Madinah must conform to the requirements listed by the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, and other bodies concerned with monitoring the accommodation of pilgrims.

The hotels must take into account the application of precautionary measures to prevent crowding inside rooms. The hotels also have to provide catering services for each pilgrim in his room as open buffets are banned.

A health guide (or health leader) from the concerned authority will be available during the pilgrims’ presence in the Hajj areas and during their movements.

This step comes to ensure the preventive measures. Pilgrims must consult a doctor if they suspect COVID-19 symptoms to ensure his safety and the safety of others.

Regarding the procedures in the holy sites, the Two Holy Mosques, and the central area in Makkah and Madinah, social distancing will be enforced throughout the grouping of pilgrims in all Hajj stages. This is in accordance with health requirements in residential buildings and tents. Pilgrims’ bags and baggage carts will be disinfected periodically.

Security guards will facilitate the exit of pilgrims from holy sites according to the time allotted to them and will ensure adherence to the number of pilgrims allowed in one space (no more than 50 people). Seat numbers on buses will be assigned to each pilgrim during the entire Hajj trip and standing inside busses will not be allowed. There will be an empty seat assigned between each pilgrim and carrying personal carry-on baggage will be prohibited.

In the case that a passenger suspects COVID-19 symptoms, the bus will be stopped and disinfected.

The ministries of health and hajj announced Saturday that a total of 60,000 pilgrims will be allowed to perform the pilgrimage this year, which will begin mid-July.