Worshipers fill Makkah, Madinah mosques for sacred Ramadan night prayers

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Updated 29 April 2022

Worshipers fill Makkah, Madinah mosques for sacred Ramadan night prayers

MAKKAH: Worshipers packed out Makkah’s Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah for prayers on the eve of the 27th day of Ramadan. 
The night, considered by many as Laylatul Qadr — a blessed Islamic night — sees visitors to the Two Holy Mosques fill most of the spaces reserved for prayers. 
Mosque authorities said they had plans in place for the increase in numbers to the mosques, which are Islam’s first and second holiest sites. 
The eve of the 29th day of Ramadan is another busy time for organizers as imams conclude the reading of the Qur’an which they began on the first day of the holy month. 

The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, through its Services Agency, provides all facilities for worshipers, starting with easing the opening of doors and organizing the entry of worshipers to the site. This is in addition to opening the mosque corridors and squares, operating the escalators leading to the mosque and rooftops, and providing cooled Zamzam water and guidance services to create a pleasant atmosphere of worship.

In addition, the General Directorate of Health Affairs in Makkah confirmed the increasing preparations for the last ten days of the holy month of Ramadan, which is expected to witness an increase in the number of worshipers.

Authorities said that they will continue to provide preventive, curative and ambulatory services to pilgrims through hospitals and primary health care centers in Makkah and health care centers in the Grand Mosque.

This comes as an implementation of the plan prepared by the authorities, which includes preventive measures, epidemiological investigation procedures, and response to infectious diseases of an epidemiological dimension.

The official spokesman for the region’s health department, Hamad bin Faihan, told Arab News that 18,000 practitioners are working around the clock to provide the best services to pilgrims and to ensure their comfort, underlining the increase and improvement of services.

Faihan said that there is an integrated plan to provide health care for pilgrims through its ten hospitals and King Abdullah Medical City and primary health care centers located within the corridors of the holy mosque.

The spokesman said that Makkah’s hospitals are fully operational during Ramadan, as well as a new health center in the Grand Mosque and two centers that previously worked to provide health care for emergency cases. This in addition to the Al-Haram Emergency Hospital and permanent health care centers within Makkah and EMTs stationed around the main area.

The General Directorate of Civil Defense intensified preventive inspection and safety patrols in the holy capital during the last ten days of Ramadan, which will last until Eid Al-Fitr. This is to improve preventive safety and ensure that the safety requirements and fire protection systems are met and that there are no obstacles within the emergency lanes.

The directorate stressed its commitment to the safety of elevators and escalators and the availability of safe assembly points outside the facilities to achieve the highest levels of security, and to reduce accidents.

In turn, the Services Agency in the holy capital’s municipality, represented by the General Cleanliness Department, has prepared for carrying out emergency work in anticipation of the expected rain during these days in Makkah.

Mohammed Bahareth, undersecretary of the Services Agency in the holy capital’s municipality, confirmed that it has increased the number of teams and equipment designated to mop up rain puddles and follow up on places where water gathers, in prior coordination with the authorities.

He added that the teams were intensively prepared and supported with large numbers of workers and equipment — monitoring neighborhoods, valley streams and mountainous neighborhoods, and distributing labor forces to sub-municipalities to conduct fieldwork.

The Bader Scout Volunteer Center of the General Directorate of Education in Makkah provided its services to pilgrims, especially on the 27th night, in cooperation with the General Presidency and the Security Forces of the Grand Mosque in Makkah, by harnessing all the workforces of the center — from scouts to their chiefs — regularly throughout the past ten nights.

By providing these services, the scouts confirmed the keenness of Saudi youth to serve others, their love for volunteer work, and that they serve as role models for their fellow citizens who cherish the service of the Two Holy Mosques and their visitors.


Jeddah receives 179mm of rainfall, higher figure than 2009 peak

Updated 25 November 2022

Jeddah receives 179mm of rainfall, higher figure than 2009 peak

  • Maximum alert issued in face of weather conditions

JEDDAH: The National Center of Meteorology recorded 179 mm of rainfall on Thursday, the highest amount ever received in the city.

Rain fell from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. in the south of the province in a heavier downpour than the previous biggest, in 2009.

The Jeddah Municipality announced a maximum alert in the wake of the weather conditions, while the meteorology center warned of moderate to heavy rain in the governorates of Jeddah and Rabigh in the Makkah region, including Thuwal and coastal areas, accompanied by surface winds, hail and flooding, until 7 p.m. on Thursday.

King Abdulaziz Airport announced that some flights had been delayed due to the weather. The airport was hoping to communicate with air carriers to confirm dates and times for rearranged flights.

Makkah Municipality employs 11,800 field workers to prepare for the rainy season. It has machinery and equipment to deal with the expected conditions. Its operation and maintenance department assesses the performance of rainwater drainage network channels in main and side roads, intersections and squares.

It removes sediment which can impede water flow in drainage systems, in accordance with contingency plans.

Task forces and equipment have been deployed throughout Makkah, with some 52 water tanks, each with a capacity of 194,000 gallons, removing floodwaters. Some 146 excavating machines and 89 multipurpose trucks have been dealing with the impact of the rain and removing water from the roads and streets.

The municipality has also organized field teams to remove waste that may have built up in the wake of the downpours.

It has also increased the number of cleaning teams to work on clearing sewers to prevent any dangers that may pose a threat to residents and visitors.

The teams have been deployed along with 520 machines, including lorries, pump tanks, Bobcats, tankers and automated sweepers, as well as a large number of pumps and excavating machines. Work is being carried out around the clock to implement contingency plans.

Makkah contains huge rainwater drainage systems that reach around 540 km and cover all of the region’s neighborhoods and holy sites. The systems include closed trunk water mains and deep tunnel networks, as well as shallow and open drainage channels.

The municipality also carries out maintenance and cleaning operations throughout the year to help reduce the effects of flooding on the region.


Spanish passions of food and football combine at Riyadh festival

Updated 26 November 2022

Spanish passions of food and football combine at Riyadh festival

  • LaLiga and Spanish gastronomes host feast of Iberian culture at Ritz Carlton

RIYADH: Food and football were flavors of the week in Riyadh as Spanish cuisine experts and LaLiga officials came together to host a feast of Iberian culture.

The Spanish Pantry festival, organized by LaLiga and food experts Provacuno, was held over three days this week in the capital’s Ritz Carlton. 

Mohamad Essa, LaLiga’s delegate in Saudi Arabia, told Arab News that the festival combined two of Spain’s biggest passions, with football activities and displays from a Michelin star chef Rafael Centeno.

Essa said that Saudi Arabia had a passionate fan base for LaLiga football. “It’s my honor to be close to the local fans and to listen to their observations and understand their needs. We would like to achieve many things together. 

“We are here to promote strong relations with local institutions, clubs and media,” he said, adding that his presence helps LaLiga giants such as Real Madrid and Barcelona connect with Saudi fans, clubs and sponsors.

He added that his organization planned many activities for the Kingdom, including parties for Saudi fans to travel and watch LaLiga matches.

The league already helps develop skills in the sports industry with its LaLiga business school, and it has football academies aimed at developing youth talent.

“We want to export these capabilities to the country to create the new generation of footballers,” Essa said.

“As part of this international expansion, we are engaging in the market by hosting events, activities, different sports projects and academic opportunities.”

Ohoud M. Aljabr, of the Ritz-Carlton group, said: “Our main goal of this successful partnership is to introduce the beautiful and rich culture of Spain and present a memorable experience. Hosting the Spanish Festival for the first time in the Kingdom was a pleasure.” 

Provacuno is a promotion organization for Spanish beef and veal, and represents 140,000 farms and processing plants.

Spain produces more than 800,000 tonnes per year of meat to EU standards. Saudi Arabia meanwhile is a growing market for beef, with consumption rates increasing and outstripping local supply. “Spanish beef has been a supplier since 2016. Export figures have been rising in recent years, reaching 350 tonnes a year,” Provacuno said. “Most of our exports to Saudi Arabia are high-quality cuts that meet Saudi demands.”

Al-Harthi receives Rawabi Holding Award in London

Updated 24 November 2022

Al-Harthi receives Rawabi Holding Award in London

JEDDAH: Ghadah W. Al-Harthi has received the Rawabi Holding Award for her contribution to promoting Saudi-British cultural relations.

She was awarded by Abdulaziz Al-Turki, chairman of Rawabi Holding. The award ceremony was held in the presence of Prince Khalid bin Bandar, Saudi ambassador to the UK.

Al-Harthi works in London as a senior cultural consultant delivering research, strategy and content curation to consultancies in the UK with projects in the Gulf countries.

She is also a senior lecturer and associate director of the MA Innovation Management at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London.

Alongside her work as a consultant and academic, she is a young adviser at Chatham House and a member of the Next Generation Committee.

For the past 10 years, Al-Harthi has been collaborating with key arts and culture institutions in the UK and the Gulf.

She aims to build bridges between communities, increase cultural exchange and enhance the multilayered communication between Saudi Arabia and the UK through her work, research and participation in international events.

In her acceptance speech, Al-Harthi said she was privileged “to have been able to strengthen cultural relations and to lead on major projects and research, with talented teams and academics here in London.”

She said: “I’m starting a London-based cultural initiative, which will aim to further continue my contributions to promoting cultural dialogue between the East and the West.”

Two dead, schools and universities close as heavy rains hit western Saudi Arabia

Updated 24 November 2022

Two dead, schools and universities close as heavy rains hit western Saudi Arabia

  • Social media showed standing water snarling traffic and partially submerging vehicles
  • Jeddah's King Abdulaziz International Airport said some flights has been delayed

RIYADH: At least two people died on Thursday as heavy rains hit western Saudi Arabia, including Jeddah, delaying flights and forcing schools to close, officials said.

“Two deaths have been recorded so far, and we call on everyone not to go out unless necessary,” Makkah regional government said on its Twitter page.

The road connecting Jeddah and Makkah was closed on Thursday once the rains began, Saudi Press Agency said, although it was later reopened.

Al-Ekhbariya channel showed footage of worshippers at the Grand Mosque in Makkah circling the Kaaba under a heavy downpour.

In Jeddah, images posted to social media showed standing water snarling traffic and partially submerging some vehicles.

The city's King Abdulaziz International Airport said that “due to weather conditions, the departure of some flights has been delayed” and urged passengers to contact carriers for up-to-date schedules.

SPA reported before dawn that schools in the city would temporarily be closed as rains were forecast to continue throughout the day.

Schools were also closed in the nearby towns of Rabigh and Khulais “to preserve the safety of male and female students", SPA added.

Saudi peak stands tall as global landmark

Updated 24 November 2022

Saudi peak stands tall as global landmark

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia is home to one of the most beautiful landmarks in the world, based on a selection of leading geological sites by the International Union of Geological Sciences and UNESCO.

Mount Al-Qadar, the 2,000-meter-high extinct volcano in the Madinah region, took its place among the top 100 geological heritage sites selected from among 181 nominations submitted by 56 countries, including 34 landmarks from North and South America, 28 from Europe, 15 from Africa, and 23 from Asia, the Pacific and the Middle East.

The Saudi Geological Survey said on Thursday that Mount Al-Qadar in Harrat Khaybar “forms an aesthetically pleasing shape with a 400-meter volcanic cone.”

Mount Al-Qadar, which last erupted 1,000 years ago, was chosen along with landmarks such as the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Park in the US, the Archean Barberton Greenstone belt in South Africa, and Mount Everest.