Group of 185 pilgrims arrives in Jeddah under Saudi king’s guest program
The king’s generous gesture comes in line with the Kingdom’s permanent efforts to serve pilgrims, build positive relations with other countries
Updated 06 July 2022
JEDDAH: The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah on Tuesday received 185 pilgrims at Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport as part of the guest program of King Salman.
This year’s program enables representatives from the the 41 countries working in the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition, along with relatives of martyrs and people injured in terrorist attacks, to perform their Hajj rituals.
The ministry is taking care of the guests to ensure that they will be provided with all the services they need throughout their Hajj journey.
Services include accommodation, transportation, meals and any other services they may need while performing their rituals.
The guest program also provides other services to the pilgrims, most notably securing travel tickets, obtaining visas, providing medical care, as well as providing round the clock buses from accommodation to the Grand Mosque in Makkah.
The king’s generous gesture comes in line with the Kingdom’s permanent efforts to serve pilgrims, build positive relations with other countries and open wider horizons for strengthening ties in the Muslim world.
Saudi Arabia will now allow visitors holding tourist visas to perform Umrah – Hajj ministry
49 nations eligible under the new rules
Booking online or on arrival, says ministry
Updated 12 August 2022
JEDDAH: The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has announced that the Kingdom will now allow visitors holding tourist visas to perform Umrah.
Citizens of 49 countries will be able to do so by securing their visas online at Visit Saudi Arabia, or immediately on arrival at airports.
The decision has been taken to allow as many people as possible to perform the ritual.
Those who qualify include holders of visas to the US and the UK, as well as those who have Schengen visas.
The regulations allow visitors to obtain a tourist visa, valid for 12 months, to visit other cities in the Kingdom.
Those who have family visit visas are allowed to perform Umrah, by booking through the Eatmarna app.
To perform Umrah, visitors are required to obtain comprehensive health insurance, which includes covering the costs of COVID-19 treatment, accidents resulting in death or disability, and expenses arising from flight delays or cancellations.
Those wishing to perform Umrah from nations other than those who currently qualify, should apply for visas at the Kingdom’s embassies in their countries.
Documents required include proof of residence and employment, return ticket, bank statement proving financial stability, itinerary, and complete personal information.
The Line city impresses Makkah governor, plans to book first
Prince Khaled Al-Faisal visited the design expo at Jeddah Superdome
He was briefed on innovations to alleviate environmental challenges
Updated 12 August 2022
JEDDAH: The architecture of the futuristic city, The Line, has impressed Makkah Gov. Prince Khalid Al-Faisal, who says he will be the first to book an accommodation once it is complete.
Prince Khalid made the remarks in a tweet following his visit to the NEOM exhibition to see the designs on Wednesday at the Jeddah Superdome.
The governor toured the exhibition that showcases the architectural innovations of the city.
He was also briefed on how the city would help alleviate the critical environmental challenges facing humanity.
Last month, The Line’s designs were revealed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
They showed the most important features of The Line, which is 200 meters wide, 170 kilometers long, and 500 meters high. It will eventually house 9 million people and have a 34 square kilometer footprint.
It will take up less land than other cities of comparable capacity and help to conserve 95 percent of NEOM’s land.
The Line imagines a future without streets, cars or emissions. It will be powered entirely by renewable energy and prioritize health and well-being over transportation and infrastructure.
The exhibition showcases all these aspects of the city. It opened on Aug. 1 and will be taken to other locations from Aug. 14, including Riyadh and the Eastern Province.
It offers 50 guided tours a day in Arabic and English.
Hand-woven Japanese silk fabric artisans turn attention to Saudi Arabia
Updated 12 August 2022
RIYADH: Kyoto-based Okamoto Orimono Co., Ltd. (branded as Nishijin Okamoto) has worked to provide rare silk fabrics since the Meiji era, and have carried on the techniques and traditions of Nishijin textiles for over 100 years, across four generations.
Nishijin Okamoto is one of the few remaining weaving companies carrying on the historic culture of Nishijin and Kyoto, and the company is offering innovative silk fabrics that will impress the wearer.
Ema Okamoto, textile designer and managing director of Nishijin Okamoto, spoke to Arab News Japan, saying, “I grew up as a child amid the sounds of the machines, the winding threads, and the bustle of the craftsmen in the house and workshop. This atmosphere of the Nishijin workshop is my origin and my life.”
“The people of Saudi Arabia, like us, cherish their roots and as they live their lives. I got a lot of inspi- ration from the regional symbols they showed us wherever we went,” Okamoto said, expressing interest in creating “a traditional collaboration between Saudi Arabia and Japan.”
Outgoing Danish ambassador reflects on his time in Saudi Arabia
Ole Emil Moesby is leaving the Kingdom after five years as his country’s envoy to the region
Updated 12 August 2022
RIYADH: Denmark’s ambassador in Saudi Arabia, Ole Emil Moesby, will bid the Kingdom farewell at the end of his tour of duty in Riyadh later this month.
“From the bottom of my heart, I want to say thank you,” he told Arab News. “I’ve had a fantastic time here — you usually get more or less emotional when you have to change, but if you are a diplomat, you’re quite used to it changing from one place to the other.
“I can’t think of any time when I felt this — that I am leaving something behind here — which I will miss because the way I’ve been treated and inspired, and the way I’ve been communicating with people, has been extraordinary,” Moesby said.
“The experience I have had has been fantastic, so my message is: Thank you.”
Moesby has been the ambassador of Denmark to Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Yemen since Sept. 5, 2017, and his final day of service is Aug. 31.
Talking to Arab News, Moesby highlighted some of his fondest memories in the Kingdom, where he has spent five years, from interacting with the local community and traveling, to being enriched by the culture and heritage of Saudi Arabia.
“It’s been a fantastic time to experience the development and the changes which I have seen in Saudi Arabia,” he said.
“AlUla of course has developed extremely (well) … But even places like Yanbu or Jeddah have actually changed a lot. Not to mention, of course, Riyadh.
“It’s actually been interesting to see also how the development has changed attitudes and culture in these places, but yet, at the other side, have actually maintained the heritage of these places,” Moesby explained.
The ambassador witnessed many changes, including the opening of movie theaters in the Kingdom and the lifting of the ban on women driving in 2018.
“I think it’s been fantastic to see that development,” said the envoy. “I have been (here) in a period where I have been for premiers of films in the cinemas, and before … my staff here, which is mainly women, were actually being brought to the embassy in the morning — now they actually drive themselves,” he added.
“So instead of having a problem of traffic, as we had before, we now have a parking problem,” the ambassador joked.
“That’s a fantastic development, and which I will take with me in my memories when I leave.”
Moebsy explained that he has also been a dedicated Arab News reader, making sure to pick up the newspaper every morning to catch up on events.
“Everything has actually changed since Sept. 5, 2017. So every day, Arab News has actually told me what is happening here. And it’s been a fantastic experience because of the changes that you have seen here,” he said.
The ambassador highlighted the ways his mission has strengthened bilateral relations between Denmark and Saudi Arabia through embassy-led initiatives and collaborations.
“As an ambassador, you have to understand what is happening in Saudi Arabia, and you have to convey that to people in Denmark, and you have to make people in Saudi Arabia understand what the thinking is in Denmark. That’s the way to develop a bilateral relationship,” he said.
Most of his efforts have been to put into trade, developing business partnerships, and promoting cultural exchanges.
One of these efforts was hosting a women’s football tournament in Saudi Arabia with 28 teams from all over the Kingdom, called the Global Goals World Cup.
“We’ve been very active in setting up football for females. The tournament that we had was a big success … because it also demonstrated the role that females can play in sports events,” he said.
In February, the embassy hosted celebrations of the Golden Jubilee of Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, and the ambassador invited young female Saudi artists to paint a picture of the queen to mark the event.
“It’s an amazing development of cultural abilities and possibilities in Saudi Arabia that can happen. And for the queen in Denmark, she would see that as a good signal of the long-term good relations that we have between Saudi Arabia and Denmark,” Moesby said.
He concluded his interview by leaving a message to his successor, Liselotte Kjaersgaard Plesner, who will be the next ambassador.
“My successor, she is one of our top diplomats in the Danish service,” Moesby said.
“I just hope she can just be half as happy as I am in being here, (then) I will be more than happy.
“An important message to say to her is that the perceptions that we sometimes all are under in Europe or Denmark, and in the US, you can’t get close to the reality unless you have seen it yourself,” he said.
The ambassador added that people should not form their opinions of a country without examining it and being a part of the culture first.
“You have to come here. You have to live here. You have to understand and communicate with people here, otherwise, it won’t happen,” he said.