Saudi prosthetics center provides vital services in Yemen’s Hadramout

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Updated 02 September 2022

Saudi prosthetics center provides vital services in Yemen’s Hadramout

MARIB: The prosthetic limbs and physical rehabilitation center in Hadramout governorate, Yemen, has continued to provide medical services for Yemenis through the support of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center. It provided 957 services to 313 beneficiaries in one month, including manufacturing, fitting, delivery and maintenance of prosthetic limbs for 105 patients.

The center also provided other treatments for 208 patients, including physical therapy and consultation sessions. The services are part of the Kingdom’s efforts, represented by KSrelief, to improve the capacities of the health sector in Yemen.

Meanwhile, the center recently distributed almost 75 tons of food baskets to displaced and needy families in Hodeidah governorate, benefiting 4,200 people. The effort came as part of the Saudi food security project, which aims to distribute more than 192,000 food baskets to needy and affected families across 15 Yemeni governorates.

Yemen is among the top beneficiaries of KSrelief assistance. The center has implemented 713 projects in Yemen, costing more than $4.1 billion.


Saudi, Iranian FMs set meeting on reopening of embassies, consulates

Updated 23 March 2023

Saudi, Iranian FMs set meeting on reopening of embassies, consulates

  • Saudi and Iranian foreign ministers arrived at the agreement during a phone call
  • Diplomats also exchanged greetings on the start of the holy month of Ramadan

RIYADH: The foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and Iran will meet soon to pave the way for reopening embassies and consulates in the two countries, Saudi state media said early Thursday.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan and his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amirabdollahian, arrived at the agreement during a phone call, the Saudi Press Agency and Al-Ekhbariyah said in separate reports.

The diplomats also exchanged greetings on the advent of the holy month of Ramadan.

The Kingdom and Iran agreed on March 10 to reestablish diplomatic relations and reopen their embassies within two months following years of tensions.

Amirabdollahian said on Sunday that three locations have been proposed for the meeting.


Saudis welcome Ramadan, a time of reflection and blessings for the Muslim world

Updated 23 March 2023

Saudis welcome Ramadan, a time of reflection and blessings for the Muslim world

  • The world’s 2 billion plus Muslims believe daytime fasting and nighttime prayers energize the faithful to lead a new life 
  • Saudi Ministry of Culture has launched Ramadan Season, a series of festive events in 14 cities across the Kingdom

JEDDAH: Every year ahead of the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, 2 billion plus Muslims around the world prepare to welcome the holy month of Ramadan. While Ramadan is commonly known for its fast, for Muslims it is more than just a month of fasting; it symbolizes reward, reflection, devotion, generosity and sacrifice.

Daytime fasting and nighttime prayers spiritually energize the faithful to lead a new life, benefiting the whole of humanity and opening a new chapter of peace and progress.

Worshippers pray at the Grand Mosque in Makkah on March 21, 2023, as Saudi Arabia announced that the fasting month of Ramadan will start on March 23. (AFP)

A hadith says Abu Huraira reported: “The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said whoever fasts the month of Ramadan out of faith and in the hope of earning reward, all his previous sins will be forgiven, and whoever stays up during Laylat Al-Qadr out of faith and in the hope of earning reward, all his previous sins will be forgiven.”

On Wednesday, the Saudi Press Agency reported that King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman exchanged messages of congratulations with “leaders of Islamic countries on the advent of blessed month.”

Ramadan, besides being a month of fasting, is also a month of happiness, an Islamic form of worship known as dhikr, Qur’an recital, good deeds and charity.

Aside from being a time of celebration, the month of Ramadan is a time of charity. (Abdullah Al-Faleh, AFP)

The rewards of giving zakat or sadaqah — an Islamic form of almsgiving that is a central pillar of the Muslim faith — during Ramadan are doubled, and thus Muslims make sure give even more to those in need during the holy month.

Last year in Saudi Arabia, the Ehsan national campaign for charitable work received more than SR300 million ($79 million) in donations. During the first Ramadan campaign in 2021, the king and the crown prince made multiple donations through Ehsan that pushed the platform’s total funds past the SR1 billion mark.

In the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah, philanthropists commonly provide iftar (breakfast) meals to worshippers at specific locations in the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque.

Generosity extends far beyond the provision of iftar meals by the wealthy; 29-year-old Anas Al-Ghamdi from Jeddah distributes cold bottles of water and dates to people in rush hour traffic.

Al-Ghamdi and his brother have been doing this for seven years, “because Ramadan is the month of feeding the poor, and it is a chance to offer help and gain rewards.”

While fasting is one of Ramadan’s main characteristics, what happens after the fast is broken every day is just as important. Those who celebrate rejoice in the food served during gatherings with relatives and loved ones, as it represents the month’s prominent rituals.

Iftar meals are offered daily in mosques throughout the Kingdom during Ramadan. (AFP file)

Though generosity and togetherness are hallmarks of Ramadan, so too is spending.

It has become a habit to prepare for Ramadan with a feeling of newness; families go into a cleaning frenzy, decorating their houses, reorganizing furniture, giving some goods to the poor, and, of course, buying new items.

Neama Fadhel, a housewife and mother of five children, said that she likes to plan her Ramadan shopping for kitchen products, accessories and clothes, as the experience brings her joy.

Fadhel also loves buying new items for her household, especially her kitchen, as it “gives me a boost for the daily cooking routine in the holy month that differs from other normal days of the year.”

Shoppers in Jeddah enjoy purchasing Ramadan decorations and items from the annual exhibit at Jeddah International Exhibition and Convention Center. (AN Photo by Abdullah Alfaleh)

Competition is rife as entrepreneurs vie to produce new, trending goods each year to attract customers, who look forward to decorating their homes to welcome the holy month with fervor.

Sufyan Raya, senior digital marketing specialist at Al-Hadaya Center, told Arab News how demand for decorations skyrockets around Ramadan.

Al-Hadaya Center, one of the biggest gift shops and decoration retailers in the Kingdom, distributes products to other shops in the region. For retailers, the season usually begins two months before to the holy month and continues until the middle of Ramadan.

“So far, our Ramadan-only sales represented 7.6 percent of the company’s sales, with Jeddah at the forefront of sales, followed by Makkah and Riyadh. We have imported lanterns and Ramadan decoration items worth SR30 million from Egypt, India, Turkey, and China for Ramadan 2023,” Raya said, adding that more than 70 containers arrived through sea ports and airports to meet the demand.

FASTFACT

Besides fasting, Ramadan is a month of happiness, an Islamic form of worship known as dhikr, Qur’an recital, good deeds and charity.

In a highly competitive market, Raya said, products are kept highly confidential. “We made sure that these products are well kept until they are distributed and unpacked in the stores, as some competitors copy special items and offer them at a lower quality.”

The most popular Ramadan-themed items are lanterns in various sizes and colors, twinkling lights, crescent moons and some distinctive textile-made products like “shkaly,” a printed fabric with a bright pink rose, and “khayamiya,” another popular printed fabric bearing geometric patterns.

Lanterns, an iconic symbol of the holy month, are always in high demand.

“This year, handmade Egyptian and Indian lanterns and ornamented copper, bronze and gold-plated lanterns are trending the most, and this category has achieved the highest rate of sales compared to other items,” Raya added.

Saudi women shop for traditional lanterns known in Arabic as "Fanous", sold during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, at a market in the city of Jeddah. (AFP file)

Prices of lanterns vary in terms of material, shape and size, ranging from about SR1.88 to more than SR975. Mass-produced types are the cheapest, while handcrafted varieties fetch the highest prices.

While modern shopping centers and malls are replete with Ramadan merchandise, nothing beats shopping in Al-Balad, Jeddah’s historical district, where vendors and kiosks put up lights and decorations, creating a special old-meets-new Ramadan vibe.

Saleh Baeshen, one of the oldest traders in the area, told Arab News that shoppers from across the region, especially from Gulf countries, come to enjoy the “unique Ramadan vibes in the historic Al-Balad.”

Baeshen said: “Loads of vintage decoration items and huge lanterns that are usually hung in big buildings and shops” can be found in Al-Balad. Special exhibitions, which usually begin two weeks before Ramadan and continue until the first week of the holy month, are held annually to promote local products and bring joy to visitors and residents alike.

One such exhibition is being held at Al-Harthi Exhibition Center in Jeddah, with more than 200 local and regional brands taking part.

The exhibition is held annually two weeks prior to the holy month with over 200 participating brands. (AN Photo by Abdullah Alfaleh)

Khidr Ismael, who came all the way from Egypt to take part in the exhibition, said that he inherited the trade of making lanterns from his ancestors. At the exhibition, he offers Ramadan decorations, such as Ramadan-themed printed fabrics, utensils with Arabic and Islamic inscriptions, furnishings, lighting and tents.

“The crescent-shaped lanterns are trending this year; it is available in the two-meter size … and this year we are offering stainless steel lanterns that have better quality and longevity,” he said.

Vendors are all set for the influx of Muslims from all over the world at a market in the western Saudi city of MadinaH. (AFP)

The Culinary Arts Commission has also launched the Ramadan Market in Jeddah, which will run until March 22. The market displays local culinary and Ramadan products, including baked goods, sweets, dates, spices, coffee, nuts, honey, toys, clothes and antiques.

For families coming to enjoy the holiday, the market hosts spaces such as a children’s area and activities including drawing, photography and henna. It will also serve as an opportunity for local vendors to display their products.

The Kingdom’s Ministry of Culture has launched Ramadan Season, a series of events that will take place in 14 cities across Saudi Arabia and will be held in more than 38 locations. Ramadan Season offers a variety of experiences, including cultural, educational and entertainment events with a distinct Ramadan look.

 


Cool weather expected to offer fasting Muslims some respite this Ramadan

Updated 22 March 2023

Cool weather expected to offer fasting Muslims some respite this Ramadan

  • The early-spring weather during the holy month will be a relief after more than a decade of fasting during long, hot days 

RIYADH: Residents of the Kingdom can look forward to a more comfortable, cooler Ramadan this year, compared with the long hours of fasting in the hot and humid weather of the past decade.

The Islamic calendar is based on the lunar cycle, with the start of each month determined by the sighting of the new moon. The effect of this is that Ramadan arrives about a week-and-a-half earlier in the Gregorian calendar each year compared with the year before.

“The month of Ramadan moves between the four seasons every 33 years because the Hijri calendar is 11 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar,” said Abdulaziz Al-Hussaini, a Saudi weather and climate researcher.

“Ramadan this year is expected to have a higher rate of precipitation than normal in most regions, particularly during the first half of Ramadan. In the event of rainfall, the weather typically changes: The weather becomes cold, even during the day, with a cold breeze at night and in the early-morning hours.

“Since Ramadan falls in the spring season this year, some of the winter characteristics will be dominating the weather of Ramadan this year.”

After several years of marking Ramadan, and fasting, during the long, hot summer days, Saudis are looking forward to the more pleasant weather that is forecast for this year, and they reminisced about the years in which Ramadan fell during the winter.

“I always recall fasting during Ramadan in winter; the hours of fasting were short and we barely felt thirsty or hungry as the weather back then made fasting easier,” said Shamma Abdul Aziz, a retired history teacher from Riyadh.

Hadi Saud, a chemical engineer from Al Qassim, said: “I was 15 in 1997 and I remember breaking our fast outside, in the backyard, for the whole month. We rarely had our breakfast inside because of how good the weather was — we didn’t want to miss it.”

Al-Hussaini pointed out that Ramadan will once again be observed during the winter season “in about seven years from now.”

In fact, in 2030 Ramadan will take place twice, according to Khaled Al-Zaaq, a Saudi astronomer. This is a phenomenon that happens every 33 years, and the last time was in 1997.

In a message posted on Twitter, Al-Zaaq wrote: “In 2030, Ramadan is expected to begin on Jan. 5, 2030, and the second Ramadan of 2030 is expected to begin on Dec. 26, meaning we will fast 36 days in 2030.”

He added: “With Ramadan going around the four seasons every 33 years, in 2028 Ramadan is expected to occur at the height of winter, and in 2044 Ramadan is expected to occur at the height of summer.”


Top destinations to enjoy during the long Ramadan nights

Updated 23 March 2023

Top destinations to enjoy during the long Ramadan nights

JEDDAH: Ramadan in Saudi Arabia is a different experience to the rest of the year, as the days are slow and calm while the post-iftar evenings are abuzz with life and activity until sahoor.

There is no shortage of Ramadan-related activities, events and bazaars to enjoy across the Kingdom, filled with joyful experiences and a chance to enter into the spirit of the season. Visitors.

Here is a handy list of some of the best places and events throughout the country where locals and visitors can gather to savor the spiritual, lively atmosphere in the Kingdom during the long evenings of the holy month.

Riyadh

Qasr Al-Hukm is a favorite destination for many people during Ramadan, as it includes several traditional souqs, including Al-Maigliah, Al-Taamer and Al-Zel markets, which offer a fun shopping experience.

Qasr Al-Hukm is a favorite destination for many people during Ramadan in Riyadh. (Saudi Tourism photo)

Al-Safarat, or the Diplomatic Quarter, is a great area to visit to enjoy food, as it is filled with fantastic cafes and restaurants, many of which will have special Ramadan offers.

The Gulf Spring Cafe in Diriyah, located in the heart of the mesmerizing historical city, is considered by many one of the best places to visit in Riyadh during the holy month.

Jeddah

Al-Balad, or Historical Jeddah, is a top destination in the city where past and present collide to offer a wide selection of art, culture, food stalls, workshops, seminars, galleries, museums and more.

Bisat Al-Reeh is an exhibition and marketplace at Jeddah International Exhibition and Convention Center. It offers a range of merchandise, some of which is free or sold at very reasonable prices.

Historical buildings in Jeddah’s Al-Balad area, one of the UNESCO-listed heritage sites in Saudi Arabia. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

Jeddah Waterfront is the place to go for some entertaining light shows this year, featuring drones and fireworks.

The Tofareya Tent Restaurant, beside Lake Arbaeen, serves traditional Saudi cuisine in a modern style, with stunning views over the lake.

AlUla

The Old Town is adorned with Ramadan decorations and ready to welcome visitors who can wander through its historical alleys where they can stop and shop, eat, and learn about the area’s incredible history, or simply stroll around and savor the moment.

AlUla the Old Town. (Saudi Tourism photo)

Alkhobar 

Villaggio Restaurant Village is a traditional Saudi village-themed venue that contains more than 30 restaurants offering a variety of cuisines, a dancing fountain and green space, making it a perfect destination to enjoy food in a modern urban atmosphere with more than a hint of the past.

Dammam

At Coral Island, visitors can enjoy the cool sea breeze while riding a boat, swimming, strolling, or enjoying the food at a restaurants, among other options.

Dammam Waterfront offers a wide variety of attractions and experiences in one place, whether you want to keep fit, go shopping or simply meet up with friends and family.

The Heritage Village, consisting of five floors, each of which represents the traditions and culture of a particular region of the Kingdom, has been specially decorated for Ramadan.

Visitors to Dammam Traditional Market can learn about the history of the city as they shop for local merchandise.

Dhahran

The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, also known as Ithra, is hosting many Ramadan festivities, shows, workshops, exhibitions, labs, cafes, restaurants, and other events during the holy month.

Taybeen Museum takes visitors on a tour of the past, with its displays that showcase the objects and products previous generations of Saudis used in their daily lives.

The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, also known as Ithra. (Saudi Tourism photo)

Yanbu

Flowers Park, one of Yanbu’s most beautiful public parks, has five specialist zones: the garden, a playground, a butterfly garden, the Rio Team Birds Garden, and a food area with restaurants.

Al-Shafa Market is a delicious destination that offers a memorable Saudi food experience, featuring dishes from every region.

Yanbu Historic Area is the place to go for cultural and traditional celebrations hosted in the heart of the old city. In this historic area, performers and vendors keep the festive spirit alive through their performances, food options, games and more.

Abha 

Shamsan Historical Castle is an amazing historical sites in the south of the Kingdom. Built on a mountain during the days of the Ottoman Empire, the structure helped to defend the city. After learning about the history of the site, visitors can explore the surrounding area, which includes many restaurants.

Shamsan Historical Castle. (Saudi Tourism photo)

Al-Habala, or the “Hanging Village” is a historical mountain settlement that has been turned into a park and is reached via cable car. In addition to exploring traditional homes and other buildings, visitors can enjoy toboggan rides, go camping, and get closer to nature.

A visit to Jabla Sawda, or Sawda Mountain, one of Saudi Arabia’s highest summits, could be the height of adventure during Ramadan.

Jazan 

The seven Jazan Museums — Dr. Ali Mohammed Awaji Museum, Ibrahim Montag Museum, Al-Aliyah Museum, Bi’ir Museum, Zayla’I Maritime Museum, Mount Texan Museum, and Jazan Museum of Archaeology and Heritage — reveal a different side of Jazan, its culture and heritage.

Visitors to the Jazan Heritage Village can learn about how the people of the area lived in olden times, including their clothes, accessories and architecture.

At the Fifa Mountains, you can ride a cable car, enjoy on a safari trip into the heart of the forest, or simply relax and meditate in nature.

Qassim

Jidiyah Heritage Castle, a prominent historical site in the region, is well worth a visit.

Take a trip to Garden Talents, a nature reserve in Buraidah, and see hundreds of colorful birds of various species.


Winners of 24th King Salman Award for Holy Qur’an to be honored in Riyadh

Updated 22 March 2023

Winners of 24th King Salman Award for Holy Qur’an to be honored in Riyadh

  • More than 3,000 compete in 6 divisions, with 105 contestants making it to the finals

RIYADH: Prince Faisal bin Bandar, governor of Riyadh, will attend the 24th King Salman Award for the Holy Qur’an memorization, recitation and interpretation for boys, which will be held on Thursday. 

The ceremony, organized and supervised by the Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance, will be held at the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh in the presence of the Saudi Islamic Minister Sheikh Abdullatif Al-Asheikh, along with scholars, senior officials, and ambassadors and directors of charities for memorization of the Qur’an in the Kingdom.

More than 3,000 contestants took part in the preliminaries, 105 of whom made it to the finals. The contestants in the preliminaries participated in six divisions of the competition. The first division is memorizing the Qur’an entirely with good performance and intonation with seven frequent readings. 

The second is memorizing the Qur’an entirely with good performance, intonation, and interpretation of the vocabulary of the Qur’an, and the third division is memorizing the entire Qur’an with good performance and intonation. 

The fourth division of the competition involves memorizing 20 consecutive parts of the Qur’an with good performance; the fifth division involves memorizing 10 consecutive parts of the Qur’an with good performance and intonation; and the last division of the competition involves memorizing five consecutive parts of the Qur’an with good performance and intonation.

The King Salman award for memorization of the Qur’an for girls will be held on Friday evening in the presence of King Salman’s wife, Princess Fahda bint Falah Al-Hathleen, at the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh.

Prizes worth SR3 million ($800,000) will be distributed among the winners in the six divisions of the competition.

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