Empty roads, crowded malls as Riyadh residents rush for last-minute Eid shopping

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The General Entertainment Authority has announced a packed calendar of events for the week-long Eid Al-Fitr holiday. (SPA)
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The General Entertainment Authority has announced a packed calendar of events for the week-long Eid Al-Fitr holiday. (SPA)
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The General Entertainment Authority has announced a packed calendar of events for the week-long Eid Al-Fitr holiday. (SPA)
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The General Entertainment Authority has announced a packed calendar of events for the week-long Eid Al-Fitr holiday. (SPA)
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Updated 09 April 2024
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Empty roads, crowded malls as Riyadh residents rush for last-minute Eid shopping

  • Eid celebrations commence on Wednesday, with Eid Al-Fitr prayer to take place across the Kingdom shortly after sunrise
  • GEA has announced a packed calendar of events, from theater to concerts and daily firework displays at locations across the capital

RIYADH: It looked like a tale of two cities on the roads of the Saudi capital on Tuesday morning with offices closed for the Eid Al-Fitr. While many streets wore a deserted look, the shopping malls were bustling with crowds as Riyadh residents rushed for last-minute Eid shopping.

Hanan Al-Harbi, a Riyadh resident, told Arab News: “People along with their children flock to shopping centers for new garments, chocolates and Eid gifts to be shared with the relatives and friends on the joyous occasion of Eid Al-Fitr, the most celebratory occasion in the Islamic calendar.

“I have visited some of the shopping malls in the city today and last night, and I found them crowded with people busy doing last minute Eid shopping. The good thing is streets are empty due to Eid Al-Fitr holidays, so the drive is easy and it takes less time to be at the shopping center.”

However, Al-Harbi added that Riyadh will experience more traffic at night as people go out with family and friends on the eve of Eid.

“You will see the Eid spirit here everywhere you go tonight. The streets decorated with colorful lights at night are going to be more busy and everything that is dull during the day will come to life at night for the biggest celebration in the Islamic calendar,” she said.

Manzar Siddiqui’s regular drive to the Aziziah fruits and vegetables market on Tuesday morning was more hassle-free than usual.

“The roads leading to the market were practically empty, and it took me only 15 minutes to drive from my home compared to the usual half an hour,” he said.

However, when he got to the market, the scene was different.

“The fruits and vegetables stalls were moderately busy, and the meat section was packed as people rushed to buy mutton and chicken as it is the Eid Al-Fitr party time. I had to wait for 20 minutes to place my order. On regular days, we just visit the shop and place the order,” said Siddiqui.

For Mahfooz Shaikh, who has just moved to the city, a planned quick visit to the mall turned into a long ordeal.

“I thought it would be empty in the afternoon, and I could get my Eid shopping done quickly, but I think every other person in Riyadh thought the same. It was crowded, and getting a parking spot was a tough task,” he said.

Amid the week-long Eid Al-Fitr holiday to celebrate the festival with zeal and fervor, the General Entertainment Authority has announced a packed calendar of events, from theater to concerts and daily firework displays at locations across the capital.

Tuesday is the final day of the holy month of Ramadan. Eid celebrations commence on Wednesday, with Eid Al-Fitr prayer to take place across the Kingdom shortly after sunrise, and thorough arrangements made to accommodate worshipers for the annual prayer.

The Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance has issued directives to hold Eid Al-Fitr prayers 15 minutes after sunrise, in accordance with the Umm Al-Qura calendar.

In a circular, the ministry said that Eid Al-Fitr prayers will be conducted at the designated open prayer grounds, as well as in all mosques except for those adjacent to prayer grounds, ensuring all necessary services, including maintenance, cleaning and operation, are in place so that worshipers can perform their rituals with ease and comfort.


Palestinian guests of Custodian of Two Holy Mosques Program arrive in Makkah

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Palestinian guests of Custodian of Two Holy Mosques Program arrive in Makkah

  • This year, program is hosting 3,322 pilgrims from 88 countries worldwide
  • Saudi Arabia will receive 2,000 more pilgrims from Palestine on Thursday 

RIYADH: 500 Palestinian pilgrims who are being hosted through the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Guests Program for Hajj, Umrah and Visit arrived in Makkah on Wednesday.

The Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance will receive 2,000 more pilgrims from Palestine on Thursday as part of the program, Saudi Press Agency reported. 

Palestinian pilgrims who are being hosted through the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Guests Program for Hajj, Umrah and Visit arrive in Makkah. (SPA)

The pilgrims expressed their thanks and appreciation to the Kingdom’s government for its interest in the Palestinian cause and for enabling them to perform Hajj through the program, SPA added.

This year, the program is hosting 3,322 pilgrims from 88 countries around the world.


Palestinian guests of Custodian of Two Holy Mosques Program arrive in Makkah

Palestinian pilgrims arrive in Makkah. (SPA)
Updated 12 June 2024
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Palestinian guests of Custodian of Two Holy Mosques Program arrive in Makkah

  • Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance will receive 2,000 more pilgrims from Palestine on Thursday as part of the program

RIYADH: 500 Palestinian pilgrims who are being hosted through the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Guests Program for Hajj, Umrah and Visit arrived in Makkah on Wednesday.

The Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance will receive 2,000 more pilgrims from Palestine on Thursday as part of the program, Saudi Press Agency reported. 

The pilgrims expressed their thanks and appreciation to the Kingdom’s government for its interest in the Palestinian cause and for enabling them to perform Hajj through the program, SPA added.

This year, the program is hosting 3,322 pilgrims from 88 countries around the world.


Makkah Health Cluster neurosurgeons save life of Ethiopian pilgrim

Updated 12 June 2024
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Makkah Health Cluster neurosurgeons save life of Ethiopian pilgrim

  • The pilgrim was losing consciousness and exhibiting severe weakness in the right side of his body
  • King Abdulaziz Hospital’s neurosurgery team operated after diagnosing a subdural hemorrhage

MAKKAH: Neurosurgeons at King Abdulaziz Hospital saved an Ethiopian pilgrim’s life after he suffered a subdural hemorrhage, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.
The pilgrim, whose age was not revealed, was losing consciousness and exhibiting severe weakness in the right side of his body. Shortly after diagnosing a subdural hemorrhage, or severe brain bleed, the neurosurgery team from King Abdulaziz Hospital, a member of the Makkah Health Cluster, operated on the man.
He was reported to have undergone surgery under local anaesthesia before being transferred to the intensive care unit, where his condition was monitored and treatment provided.
Post-operation tests showed a noticeable improvement in the patient’s condition — bleeding was significantly reduced and he was able to move the right side of his body.
Makkah Health Cluster said that the efforts of the medical team, and intensive physical therapy, made it possible to move the patient to the internal medicine department where he will continue treatment under supervision.
Last week, a neurosurgery team from the same hospital saved the life of an elderly Indonesian pilgrim who fell into a coma. The woman was suffering from acute hydrocephalus, a serious condition commonly referred to as water on the brain.
Neurosurgeons performed a delicate and life-saving operation after which the woman regained partial consciousness and then completely emerged from the coma.


Government agencies provide top quality care for elderly, disabled Hajj pilgrims

Updated 12 June 2024
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Government agencies provide top quality care for elderly, disabled Hajj pilgrims

  • Wheelchairs, guides, volunteers all on hand to help worshippers perform rituals
  • Modern technology used to track movement of visitors, ensure safety

MAKKAH: Government agencies in the Kingdom play a vital role in providing humanitarian services to ensure the safety and comfort of pilgrims during the Hajj rituals, with special care provided to the elderly and disabled people.

Hospitals and health centers are available in Makkah, Madinah and the holy sites, offering first aid and emergency medical care. Awareness and educational campaigns about public health and preventive measures are also being conducted.

Security services undertake crowd management and traffic control to ensure the safety of pilgrims. They also provide search and rescue services and deploy teams to maintain order and safety at the holy sites.

Visitor Umm Ayman Reda said she was delighted with the available services from the moment she arrived at King Abdulaziz International Airport. She said she used the Haramain High Speed Railway to get to her hotel and it “did not make her feel old” as she did not have to walk long distances.

She said the Hajj agency told her about an integrated program for the elderly and people with special needs, which ensures they can perform their rituals with ease and comfort. This was “a significant humanitarian effort provided by the Kingdom to serve Hajj pilgrims from all over the world,” she said.

Saad Jameel Al-Qurashi, who owns of a local Hajj agency, said the Kingdom’s leaders were dedicated to ensuring the comfort of pilgrims at every stage of the Hajj journey.

He said the pilgrimage sites in Arafat and Muzdalifah were fully equipped with services to assist the elderly and people with special needs so they could perform their rituals in comfort.

“All Hajj workers are dedicated to serving the pilgrims … it is an honor that Saudis proudly uphold at all levels,” he said.

He also complimented the transport and communication services and said visitors were provided with drinking water, free meals and guides to help them perform their Hajj rituals correctly.

Brochures and information leaflets in multiple languages are being distributed and information centers have also been established.

Modern technology is used to track the movement of pilgrims and ensure their safety. Mobile applications help visitors navigate and access necessary information, while quick relief services are available for emergency situations.

The General Authority for the Care of the Two Holy Mosques told Arab News it had implemented comprehensive measures to care for people with disabilities at the Grand Mosque, including within the prayer rooms. These are cleaned and sterilized before and after each prayer and Zamzam water is available.

Smart golf carts are also available at the Grand Mosque — located in the eastern courtyards — for people with mobility issues and electric scooters can be reserved through the Tanaqol application for performing rituals. These can be accessed at several points, including the Marwah entrance at Gate 25, the Bab Darul Arqam entrance at Gate 16 and the Shubaika Stairways entrance at Gate 66. Wheelchairs are available at both the entrance to the eastern square at Bab as-Salam (Gate 19) and the entrance to the western square at Bab e Ajyad.

Volunteers are on hand to push the wheelchairs at both the entrance to Bab e Ajyad on the ground floor — serving pilgrims and those on the ground floor — and Bab e Safa on the second floor, serving pilgrims in the Masaa area.

The main and interior doors at the Grand Mosque are equipped with Braille guide signs to assist visually impaired people. During circumambulation, the elderly and people with disabilities are provided with umbrellas to protect them from the heat of the sun.


Ukrainian president arrives in Jeddah

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is greeted on arrival in Jeddah on Wednesday. (@makkahregion)
Updated 12 June 2024
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Ukrainian president arrives in Jeddah

RIYADH: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in Jeddah on Wednesday, Saudi Press Agency reported.

The president was received by the deputy governor of the Makkah Region Prince Saud bin Mishal bin Abdulaziz. 

Ukraine is bringing together dozens of world leaders and international organizations at the Burgenstock resort in Switzerland this weekend to mount pressure on Russia and outline a path towards peace.

The country has invited more than 160 nations to participate at the summit and Zelensky has said garnering support from as many countries as possible will be key to the summit.