Quba: Islam’s first mosque to expand tenfold, says crown prince

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Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman prays inside Quba Mosque in Madinah. (SPA)
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Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visiting the prophet’s grave. (SPA)
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Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah. (SPA)
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The crown prince was accompanied by Prince Faisal bin Salman, right. (SPA
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Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah. (SPA)
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Updated 08 April 2022

Quba: Islam’s first mosque to expand tenfold, says crown prince

  • New capacity for 66,000 worshippers, as part of plan to restore 130 ancient mosques
  • About 57 sites, including wells, farms and orchards, are to be revitalized under the King Salman development project

MAKKAH/JEDDAH: Madinah’s Quba Mosque, the first place of worship built by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), will increase tenfold in size, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has announced. 

In 2018, the crown prince ordered the restoration of 130 historical mosques, which forms part of the government’s national revitalization program.

The crown prince believes in the importance of these ancient mosques, for their rich religious, social, cultural and architectural significance.

The structure will undergo the largest development in its history, expanding to 50,000 square meters.

Named after King Salman, the project aims to increase the mosque’s capacity to 66,000 worshipers.

Its current praying area is 5,000 square meters, with the building and facilities taking up 13,500 square meters. It has a total capacity for 20,000 worshipers.

The crown prince said the plan would ensure the mosque can cater for large numbers of worshipers during peak seasons.

It will preserve the architectural style of the mosque and other monuments close to it.

Shaded courtyards will be constructed on four sides, which will connect to prayer areas that are not structurally attached to the current building.

The crown prince said the revitalization would heighten the devotional and cultural experience for visitors.

It would further solve overcrowding and enhance the safety of worshipers. In addition, the road system would be revamped to provide easier access to the mosque.

As many as 57 sites, including wells, farms and orchards, are to be developed or rehabilitated as part of the project.

The crown prince praised King Salman for his commitment to these preservation initiatives, which forms part of the goals and objectives of Vision 2030.

During his visit to Madinah, the crown prince prayed at the Prophet’s Mosque, including at the Rawdah, an area between the Sacred Chamber (known as the Prophet’s house), and the Prophet’s minbar (or pulpit).

He was accompanied by Prince Faisal bin Salman, governor of Madinah, and several senior officials.

He also visited and prayed at Quba Mosque.

At Taiba Palace in Madinah later, the crown prince met with prominent scholars and leaders, and a group of citizens who came to greet him.

Quba Mosque is located 5 kilometers south of the Prophet’s Mosque. It was the first place of worship in the history of Islam, and constructed in 1 A.H. (622 A.D).

It is believed that Prophet Mohammed used to frequently pray in Quba Mosque, especially on Saturdays. He also urged his companions to do so.

There is a Hadith about the mosque, with the Prophet reported to have said: “Whoever makes ablutions in this house and offers one prayer therein, will be rewarded the equivalent of one Umrah.” This is why the mosque remains of considerable religious and historical importance to Muslims.

The mosque was renovated during the eras of both caliphs Othman bin Affan and Omar ibn Al-Khattab. The latter was the first to add a minaret to the structure.

A number of benefactors over the years have renovated the mosque, including in 1057, 1177, 1293, 1355, 1462 and 1503. This includes several times during the Ottoman era, the last of which was during the reign of Sultan Abdul Majid.

During the Saudi era, Quba Mosque, along with other houses of worship, were regularly revitalized. In 1968, its northern side was expanded, and then in 1985 King Fahd ordered several enlargements, while maintaining the building’s historically significant architectural features.

Abdul Haq Al-Uqbi, an architect who specializes in mosque architecture in Madinah, welcomed the King Salman development project, which he said would not only increase the capacity for worshipers but also ensure that its cultural and religious significance would be enhanced.

An additional positive element was that the entire Quba complex and surrounding area would be revitalized. This forms part of the “exceptional” urban regeneration program that the government has embarked on throughout the country. Many visitors would now be able to learn more about the 57 historically significant locations around the mosque, he said.

Dr. Hamza Al-Muzaini, a writer and academic, agreed that the expansion was of considerable social and cultural importance, and was fitting for the city of Madinah, which is a center of such symbolism and history for Muslims around the globe.

He added that residents of Madinah would be able to comfortably attend prayers in the mosque during Hajj and Eid Al-Fitr, when there is normally an increase in the number of pilgrims visiting the city.

Saudi center maps 246 areas to fight desertification

Updated 8 sec ago

Saudi center maps 246 areas to fight desertification

RIYADH: The National Center for Vegetation Development and Combating Desertification has completed a significant step in its fight against desertification: the first phase of a project to assess the state of land degradation across the Kingdom, resulting in the creation of 246 detailed maps.

These maps provide valuable insight into desertification trends and the current state of land degradation in different regions, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Tuesday.

The center’s teams conducted extensive studies to better understand the processes of desertification and land degradation and to identify effective strategies to combat them.

The project combined cutting-edge technologies and traditional methods to gather data, including geographic information systems, remote sensing techniques, and field surveys.

Fieldwork included collecting soil samples for analysis, studying plant life at designated sites, and analyzing satellite imagery.

The center has launched the second phase of the project, starting in the Riyadh region. During this phase, it will focus on identifying areas most vulnerable to desertification, classifying the causes and types of land degradation, and conducting further field surveys to gather more detailed data.

Arab innovators shine in space exploration contest

Updated 35 min 50 sec ago

Arab innovators shine in space exploration contest

  • Saudi Space Agency awards 10 winners in arts, botany, engineering

RIYADH: The Saudi Space Agency wrapped up its Space Madak competition on Tuesday by awarding 10 winning contestants prizes for their arts, botany and engineering projects.

Hailing from seven Arab countries, the winners were revealed at a ceremony hosted by the agency at the Communications, Space and Technology Commission headquarters in Riyadh.

The event marked the first anniversary of Saudi Arabia’s “Journey to Space” mission and was attended by the agency’s CEO Mohammed Al-Tamimi, officials, experts, and ambassadors from the winning students’ countries.

The competition, engaging ambitious Arab students, showcased their enthusiasm for space exploration and skills development.

The panel of judges comprised scientists, experts and space enthusiasts.

Following rigorous evaluation rounds, the top 10 contenders were chosen for their exceptional contributions.

In the arts category, winners included Yamen Al-Zaabi from Jordan, Preeti Sami from Egypt, Jawaher Farhan from Bahrain, Rafqa Mansour from Lebanon, and Aline Al-Issa from Saudi Arabia.

Sadan Al-Dosari from Saudi Arabia, Hooriya Basheikh from Morocco, and Fatima Al-Khabouriah from Oman won in the botany category.

Engineering-category winners were Abdulrahman Qattan from Saudi Arabia and Yara Reda from Syria.

The ceremony celebrated the winners and acknowledged the creative endeavors of more than 50 finalists, chosen from a pool of 80,000 submissions vying for prizes totaling SR500,000 ($133,320).

The winning projects will be showcased on the International Space Station, offering an opportunity to advance research, development, and innovation in space exploration while enriching Arab contributions in this field.

The competition represents a significant milestone in the Saudi Space Agency’s mission to support research, development, and innovation within the domain of space exploration.

With a focus on nurturing creative thinking among Arab students, the initiative aims to ignite curiosity about space and inspire breakthroughs in this burgeoning field.

The space mission, carried out by astronauts Rayyanah Barnawi and Ali Al-Qarni, included 14 pioneering scientific experiments.

According to a press release issued by the agency, the mission was a part of the “Saudi Toward Space” program, aligning with the Kingdom’s focus on research, development and innovation driven by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Al-Tamimi praised the achievements of the SSA-HSF1, or Saudi Space Agency-Human Space Flight 1, mission. This was a major milestone in the Kingdom’s journey toward leadership in the space sector.

He said there were 14 research experiments conducted in microgravity, yielding valuable contributions to research, development and innovation.

Al-Tamimi said the mission helped foster national expertise and enhance cooperation with leading international institutions.

He added that the agency remained committed to supporting innovative projects.

Manga International launches in Tokyo to showcase Saudi creativity on global stage

Updated 46 min 50 sec ago

Manga International launches in Tokyo to showcase Saudi creativity on global stage

RIYADH: In a move to bolster its international presence, Manga Arabia, a subsidiary of the Saudi Research and Media Group, announced the launch of Manga International at a ceremony in Tokyo, Japan.

The event drew in prominent officials and media representatives from Saudi Arabia and Japan, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Tuesday.

This expansion follows a series of successful partnerships and agreements with major Japanese manga publishers, such as Kodansha, Shueisha, Kadokawa, Shogakukan, and Hakusensha.

Manga Arabia has a strong track record in the Arab world, having launched two manga magazines — one for children and another for young adults — in both print and digital formats.

The company reaches over 8 million users in 195 countries, with a print distribution network of 220 points in the Arab world, selling over 400,000 copies monthly.

SRMG CEO Jomana Al-Rashid highlighted the significance of this international foray.

“We are strategically expanding through partnerships with leading manga companies and establishing a legal framework equipped with cutting-edge technologies,” she said.

“This will not only generate financial returns but also nurture an educational environment catering to the immense global demand for this content,” Al-Rashid added, emphasizing how this geographic and cultural expansion will help combat content piracy and intellectual property theft.

Manga Arabia and Manga International CEO Essam Bukhary said: “Through the art of manga and creative industries, we have achieved remarkable success in the Arab world, earning the trust of our Japanese and international partners. Now, under the umbrella of SRMG, Manga International seeks to leverage our pioneering experience and development in global markets.”

Bukhary elaborated on plans to translate and produce a range of comic stories targeting international audiences.

He added that the expansion signifies a qualitative leap for Saudi and Arab creativity on the world stage, aligning with Manga Arabia’s vision of empowering imagination, nurturing and developing Arabic content, and delivering it to a global audience across all demographics and generations.

Building on this commitment, Manga Arabia has already translated several of its comic stories into English, Chinese, and Malay for international markets.

Collaborating with the Literature, Publishing, and Translation Commission, it has also adapted a selection of Saudi novels into manga format, aiming to reach diverse audiences and present Saudi literature and culture through the lens of manga.

Saudi Arabia, Japan to collaborate on original anime, gaming content

Updated 21 May 2024

Saudi Arabia, Japan to collaborate on original anime, gaming content

  • Officials in Tokyo discuss localizing Japanese media through translation
  • Kingdom will host this year’s Esports World Cup in July

TOKYO: Saudi and Japanese officials are exploring plans to localize gaming and digital entertainment offerings in the Kingdom.

The Saudi Arabia-Japan Vision 2030 Business Forum’s digital entertainment roundtable discussed Saudi efforts to build a local gaming industry, which includes localizing Japanese games for the Saudi market, collaborating with esports tournament organizers and investing in digital entertainment.

Saudi Minister of Communications and Information Abdullah Al-Swaha and Minister of Investment Khalid Al-Falih attended the event in Tokyo, with the former giving a short speech during the opening.

Prince Faisal bin Bandar Al-Saud, vice chairman of Savvy Games Group, was also part of a panel discussion at the event.

The forum focused on promoting cultural exchange by creating content that appeals to both Japanese and Saudi audiences.

Officials discussed how to localize Japanese manga and anime by translating content through Saudi publishers, who will in turn distribute the content throughout the Middle East.

They also agreed to explore co-publishing agreements to create new and original content.

Saudi Arabia’s gaming sector is expected to grow to $1.3 billion in value over the next two years, with 58 gaming companies operating in the Kingdom. About 67 percent of Saudi Arabia’s population (about 24.8 million people) are active video game players.

The Kingdom will host this year’s Esports World Cup in July, which features about $60 million in prize money.

Saudi Arabia has previously collaborated with Japanese companies on entertainment, providing the Kingdom with expertise and cutting-edge technologies to improve the digital entertainment industry.

This article originally appeared on Arab News Japan

Saudi Cabinet: Crown prince reassures council of King’s health

Updated 51 min 30 sec ago

Saudi Cabinet: Crown prince reassures council of King’s health

RIYADH: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman assured Ministers of King Salman’s good health during a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, state news agency (SPA) reported.

The king underwent medical tests at royal clinics at the palace earlier on Sunday after he suffered from a high temperature and joint pain, SPA said. 

He was diagnosed with lung inflammation and prescribed a course of antibiotics as treatement at Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah.

The crown prince also briefed the council on the outcomes of the Council of the League of Arab States session, emphasizing the Kingdom's commitment to Arab issues, joint action development, regional security enhancement, and defending Arab interests.

Minister of Information Salman bin Youssef Al-Dosari stated after the session that the council discussed recent state activities, particularly efforts to strengthen regional and international cooperation.

The council affirmed the Kingdom's commitment to international cooperation in combating money laundering, terrorist financing, and corruption.

The Saudi cabinet also granted authority to the Minister of Energy, Prince Abdulaziz Bin Salman, to finalize a memorandum of understanding with Pakistan on energy cooperation. 

The Saudi also cabinet approved of the Kingdom's accession to an international agreement on wetlands of international importance, particularly as habitats for waterbirds.