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

This undated file photo shows a man holding the smart card that will be used during Hajj pilgrimage in 2021. (SPA)
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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.

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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.


Saudi Arabia warns citizens who break COVID-19 travel red list rules of 3-year ban

Updated 27 July 2021

Saudi Arabia warns citizens who break COVID-19 travel red list rules of 3-year ban

  • The kingdom recorded 10 COVID-19 deaths and 1,379 new cases in past 24 hours
  • 3 mosques reopened in 2 regions after being sterilized after 3 people tested positive for COVID-19

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Tuesday warned against travel to banned destinations amid the pandemic.

The Interior Ministry said citizens who went to countries on the Kingdom’s ban list would be barred from traveling for three years, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Saudis have been barred from traveling to Indonesia over coronavirus concerns. Those currently in the Asian nation have been told to exercise caution and stay away from areas with high infection rates.

Authorities have also banned travel, without prior permission, to and from the UAE, Ethiopia, and Vietnam over concerns about the spread of more infectious variants.

The Kingdom confirmed 10 new COVID-19 related deaths on Tuesday, raising the total number of fatalities to 8,189.

The Ministry of Health confirmed 1,379 new cases reported in the Kingdom in the previous 24 hours, meaning 520,774 people have now contracted the disease. 

Of the total number of cases, 11,136 remain active and 1,419 in critical condition.

According to the ministry, the highest number of cases were recorded in the capital Riyadh with 273, followed by Makkah with 242, the Eastern Province with 224, Asir recorded 154, and Jazan confirmed 117 cases.

The health ministry also announced that 1,021 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 501,449.

The ministry renewed its call on the public to register to receive the vaccine, and adhere to the measures and abide by instructions.

Saudi Arabia has so far conducted more than 24.57 million PCR tests, with 109,194 carried out in the past 24 hours.

Testing hubs and treatment centers set up throughout the country have dealt with hundreds of thousands of people since the pandemic outbreak.

Taakad centers provide COVID-19 testing for those who show no or only mild symptoms or believe they have come into contact with an infected individual. 

Tetamman clinics offer treatment and advice to those with virus symptoms such as fever, loss of taste and smell, and breathing difficulties.

Appointments for both services can be made via the ministry’s Sehhaty app.

There are 25,317,550 people in the country who have been vaccinated so far, including 1,443,866 who are elderly.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs reopened three mosques in two regions after temporarily evacuating and sterilizing them after three people tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the total number of mosques closed and reopened after being sterilized to 1,901 within 171 days.

The coronavirus pandemic has affected over 195 million people globally and the death toll has reached around 4.18 million.


Sterilization efforts intensify at Makkah’s Grand Mosque as Umrah pilgrims arrive

Updated 26 July 2021

Sterilization efforts intensify at Makkah’s Grand Mosque as Umrah pilgrims arrive

  • Foreign pilgrims will be able to perform Umrah with the start of the new Islamic year which is expected to fall on August 9

RIYADH: Sterilization at the Grand Mosque is being intensified as the holy site begins to receive Umrah pilgrims after the completion of Hajj 2021.
Procedures for regulating entry and exit, the allocation of specific lanes for people with special needs and the distribution of Zamzam water bottles to prayer areas, courtyards and tawaf areas are also in place to ensure the safety and comfort of pilgrims.
Foreign pilgrims will be able to perform Umrah with the start of the new Islamic year which is expected to fall on August 9, the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Hajj for Hajj and Umrah Services Hesham Saeed told Al-Ekhbariya news channel.

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Saudi navy unveils latest warship Jazan in Spain

Saudi and Spanish officials attend the unveiling of the latest Avante 2200 corvette for the Royal Saudi Naval Forces (RSNF) at the Navantia shipyard in Spain on July 24, 2021. (SPA)
Updated 26 July 2021

Saudi navy unveils latest warship Jazan in Spain

  • The Avante 2200 corvette is the fourth of its type being built in a joint venture between Saudi Arabian Military Industries and Spain's Navantia

MADRID: The Royal Saudi Naval Forces (RSNF) recently celebrated the launch of the Avante 2200 corvette, which is the fourth warship of its type within the Sarwat project.

The ship, named Jazan, was unveiled by the Spanish shipbuilder as part of its ceremonial launching held at the shipyard of the Navantia Naval Industries Co., Spain.

The corvettes are being built in a joint venture between Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI), and Navantia S.A., named SAMI Navantia Naval Industries.

They will be delivered in 2024, a year later than initially planned, and will feature special combat and fire control systems and integrated communications among other technologies.

The launch event was attended by the Saudi ambassador to Spain, Azzam bin Abdulkarim Al-Qain; the vice president of SAMI for corporate communication, support services and information technology, Wael bin Mohammed Al-Sarhan; as well as other senior officials from RSNF, Spanish Navy and SAMI Navantia Naval Industries.

Saudi ambassador to Spain, Azzam bin Abdulkarim Al-Qain, meets with officials of the SAMI Navantia Naval Industries in Spain on July 24, 2021. (SPA)

The commander of the RSNF, Lt. Gen. Adm. Fahd bin Abdullah Al-Ghufaili, said: “The Sarawat project will contribute to raising the level of readiness of the RSNF, enhancing maritime security in the region and protecting the vital strategic interests of the Kingdom. In addition, the project ships are an important addition to the capabilities of the RSNF in protecting the Kingdom’s maritime interests and localizing advanced military industries technically.”

The Sarawat project warships feature the latest combat systems to deal with all air threats, surface and subsurface, as well as being equipped for electronic wars. They have more capabilities than many of the world’s navies, and are a further addition to the capabilities of the RSNF in protecting the nation’s maritime security.

The project also includes training services for crews, training simulators, logistics, and long-term after-sales technical and logistical support.

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Who’s Who: Dr. Mohammed Sulaiman Al-Jasser, Islamic Development Bank president

Updated 26 July 2021

Who’s Who: Dr. Mohammed Sulaiman Al-Jasser, Islamic Development Bank president

Dr. Mohammed Sulaiman Al-Jasser has been appointed as the new head of the Islamic Development Bank for the next five years.

He has been an adviser at the General Secretariat of the Saudi Council of Ministers and the chairman of the General Authority for Competition since 2016.

Al-Jasser received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of California in 1986. He obtained his master’s degree in economics from the same university in 1981, and a bachelor’s degree in economics from San Diego State University in 1979.

He served as the Kingdom’s economy and planning minister from 2011 to 2015, and as governor of the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) between 2009 and 2011. He was also the vice governor and vice chairman of the SAMA’s board from November 1995 to February 2009.

He has participated in major international events, including G20 meetings at the deputy, ministerial, governor and full summit levels. Al-Jasser also participated in regular meetings of the Bank for International Settlements from 1997 to 2011, and took part in local and international symposia, while also giving frequent lectures on economic and monetary policies.

His previous memberships of ministerial committees, boards and councils include the Council for Economic Affairs and Development, the Supreme Council for Civil Defense, and the Ministerial Committee for Mining Affairs among others.

Al-Jasser has received many awards such as the King Abdul Aziz Medal of the First Order in 2001, the Euromoney (Emerging Markets) Award for Central Bank Governor, MENA Region for the Year in 2009, the Arab Bankers Association of North America Achievement Award in 2010, and “The Banker” Award and “Central Bank Governor of the Year for the Middle East” in 2011.


Umrah pilgrims return to Grand Mosque after Hajj 2021

Updated 25 July 2021

Umrah pilgrims return to Grand Mosque after Hajj 2021

MAKKAH: Umrah pilgrims returned to the Grand Mosque to perform the lesser pilgrimage on Sunday after the successful and safe end of Hajj 2021.
Pilgrims will enter the Grand Mosque through specific gates in order to maintain precautionary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and ensure social distancing.
Specific locations have also been allocated for performing prayers and pilgrims will follow markings on the floor when performing tawaf as was seen during Hajj and throughout the coronavirus pandemic.