Saudi authorities arrest 21 Hajj permit violators

The Saudi Ministry of Interior held a press conference for the commanders of the Hajj security forces in Makkah. (SPA)
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Updated 09 June 2024
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Saudi authorities arrest 21 Hajj permit violators

RIYADH: Authorities in Saudi Arabia have arrested 21 violators of Hajj regulations at the entrances to Makkah after they tried to enter without a valid Hajj permit, the state news agency SPA reported on Saturday.
The Ministry of the Interior announced that the Hajj Security Forces arrested eight residents and 13 citizens on Friday.
The seasonal administrative committees of the General Directorate of Passports issued 21 administrative decisions against them, which included: a prison sentence for a period of 15 days for each violator, and a fine of SR10,000 ($2,666).
The expatriate violators will then be deported and prevented from entering the Kingdom according to the legally specified periods after the execution of the sentence, while three vehicles used in their transportation have also been confiscated.
The Ministry of Interior called on all citizens and expatriates to abide by Hajj regulations and instructions so that pilgirms may enjoy safety, security, comfort and reassurance in performing their rituals.
Meanwhile, Lt. Gen. Mohammad bin Abdullah Al-Bassami, the director of Public Security and chairman of the Hajj Security Committee, stressed the security of the country, pilgrims, and the holy sites was “a red line.”
He said that safeguarding the pilgrims while they perform their Hajj rituals until they return to their home countries is a top priority for the Hajj security forces and that “preventing violators of Hajj regulations and those who have not obtained Hajj permits is central to this endeavor.”
He was speaking during a press conference held by the interior ministry for the commanders of the Hajj security forces in Makkah to brief on the ministry’s security, traffic, and organizational plans for this year’s Hajj season.
Al-Bassami said that the Public Security “has seized 140 fake Hajj campaigns and 64 carriers violating Hajj regulations, in addition to returning 97,664 violating vehicles and 171,587 non-residents of Makkah,” the SPA reported.
Authorities also apprehended 4,032 violators who did not have a valid Hajj permit and 6,105 violators of residency, work, and border security regulations, while those turned away in recent days from the holy city include 153,998 foreigners who held tourist visas rather than the required Hajj visas.


Saudi crown prince, Macron discuss Gaza, Russia-Ukraine crisis 

Updated 24 sec ago
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Saudi crown prince, Macron discuss Gaza, Russia-Ukraine crisis 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received a call on Wednesday from French President Emmanuel Macron, the Saudi Press Agency said.

The call discussed the situation in Gaza and the Russia-Ukraine crisis, in addition to efforts aimed at achieving security and stability.

The pair also reviewed bilateral relations and cooperation, as well as the latest regional and international developments.


Rock inscriptions in Saudi Arabia’s Baha bookmark a historic era

Updated 25 min 52 sec ago
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Rock inscriptions in Saudi Arabia’s Baha bookmark a historic era

  • Site epitomizes rich cultural tapestry

RIYADH: The “Book Plateau,” in the heart of Saudi Arabia’s Baha region, is drawing visitors from far and wide. Nestled in Baljurashi, the inscribed rock epitomizes the rich cultural tapestry of the area.

Located at the confluence of two streams at the foot of Wadi Khara, this archaeological wonder has been likened to the pages of an open book and earned its name from the old inscriptions adorning its surface, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The carvings are believed to date back some 1,400 years. The site boasts early Islamic inscriptions without diacritical marks, some of which bear the names of the Prophet’s companions and their followers.

There is another rock formation nearby which resembles a palm, bearing different inscriptions. Five graves can be found at the top of Mihras Mountain, two of which are noticeably elevated. While their exact history and occupants remain unknown, it is believed they belong to people who once inhabited the area.

Abdulrahman Al-Ghamdi, director general of the Heritage Authority in Baha, told the SPA that the authority had included the site in the National Antiquities Register following a survey in 2005. The inscriptions, which are etched onto granite rock faces, stand as silent witnesses to the area’s historic importance.

Baha’s summer season is attracting local and international visitors to its heritage villages and historic and archaeological sites.

These attractions have become crucial economic drivers, shaping the national tourism vision in line with the Kingdom’s ambitious goals.

They also showcase the region’s historic legacy for present and future generations.


Saudi publishing house creates heritage-led children’s works

Updated 32 min 58 sec ago
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Saudi publishing house creates heritage-led children’s works

  • Arab children deserve innovative storytelling where they see themselves as heroes, says Dar Waraqa cofounder

JEDDAH: A Saudi Arabia publishing house focused on works for children is utilizing passion and innovation to turn the page toward a “golden age of creativity” in the Kingdom.

Dar Waraqa is an award-winning company that creates aesthetically-pleasing books and products that reflect Saudi Arabia’s rich culture and heritage.

Layal Idriss, cofounder and creative director of Dar Waraqa, told Arab News during a recent interview: “Our vision revolves around continuing with the passion for creating innovative projects that will create the golden age of creativity locally and represent Saudi Arabia on the global creative publication scene.”

Idriss is a visual storyteller, entrepreneur and educator who has produced over 100 books and products over the past two decades. “I am proud to bring change and innovation to children's publishing in the MENA region by cofounding Dar Waraqa,” she said.

Idriss studied media arts and animation as an undergraduate and earned a master’s degree in fine arts from California State University, specializing in illustration.

After graduating, she taught at her alma mater from 2014 to 2021. Last year she was selected for a Women in Innovation Fellowship at Georgetown University.

Idriss is challenging the status quo of creative entrepreneurship by focusing on the importance of culturally rich products and books tailor-made for children.

“I am constantly working on evolving my storytelling skills by participating in residencies and exhibits that promote experimental and innovative storytelling methods,” she said.

Driven by her own childhood love for reading, she aims to create a library that will inspire future generations and believes that Arab children deserve high-quality art and innovative storytelling where they see themselves as heroes.

Dar Waraqa, or “House of Paper,” is based in Jeddah and offers publishing and distribution services to clients worldwide. It was founded in 2019 by Idriss and her husband Mohammed Hasanain when she had noticed that clients at her creative agency, Radish House, struggled to transform digital creations into tangible products.

Recognizing this, she created Dar Waraqa as a one-stop shop, guiding clients from the idea stage to the final product.

“The company also expanded its services to include post-production, distribution, and marketing, ensuring that books and products reach their intended audience,” she explained. “Collaborating closely with Radish House, we select artists to create magical stories.”

Dar Waraqa also provides extensive guidance and training to artists and designers, focusing on young talent from Saudi Arabia and globally, Idriss added. “We aim to lead the golden age of Saudi children’s books through a collective creative process that leverages the latest technology.”

At the company, the storytelling process begins with in-house ideation, emphasizing innovation and creativity before involving any authors. Once a solid project structure is in place, they seek the best authors, primarily working with Saudi Arabia talent but also international writers when needed.

The publishing house is not working under any government entity currently, Idriss said. “We are fortunate as Saudis that there are many initiatives and support programs available, and we try to apply to most of them. We are an independent small business working on projects with local entities to serve their needs.”

For example, “Aklana” is a collaboration between the Saudi Culinary Commission to create a series of children’s books highlighting recipes and stories from the Kingdom’s 13 provinces.

The title translates to “Our Saudi Food” and the work presents authentic recipes through characters that are meant to be filled with joy and endearing to young readers.

“It is an excellent way to … work with the commission closely on preserving recipes in a fun and innovative way,” Idriss said.

She added that the series is “a great way to innovate and build a community of creatives who collaborate and build visual narratives of our food, culture, and daily life.”

Each book in the “Aklana” series includes a short summary of the region and its natural resources.

Idriss added that the commission put in “tremendous effort” to provide their team with resources and recipes “as they spent the last few years working diligently on traveling around Saudi Arabia researching recipes and documenting them as well as talking to experts.”

The series is designed to be a part of any home or school library for Saudi Arabia children.

“In some comics and stories, we tackle traditions like dishes prepared days before a specific holiday or a wedding feast or the rituals and traditions in local households when a baby is born. With that, we successfully achieved a series that informs and entertains people from all ages and walks of life,” Idriss explained.

The six published “Aklana” books have recently been translated into Mandarin Chinese and Korean, debuting at the 2024 Beijing and Seoul international book fairs, respectively. Currently, only the Madinah edition has been translated into English.

“Once the series is complete, we plan to apply to the Tarjem initiative to have the books translated into various languages,” Idriss said. This would help entertain and inform people worldwide about the diversity of Saudi Arabia’s culture and life, she added.

In 2023, Dar Waraqa collaborated with Ithra at the Eastern Region Book Fair to create an interactive storytelling experience for children and families, which attracted over 10,000 guests.

During Ramadan 2024, Dar Waraqa worked with Hayy Explorers at Hayy Jameel in Jeddah and participated in a panel discussion at the Abu Dhabi Book Fair, to present the publisher’s perspective on the creative process.


Ministry of Justice provides 43M e-services through Najiz

Updated 40 min 9 sec ago
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Ministry of Justice provides 43M e-services through Najiz

RIYADH: The Saudi Ministry of Justice provided more than 43 million services through the Najiz platform during the first half of 2024.

This allowed people to perform legal transactions without the need to show up in person while maintaining the same quality and level of efficiency, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The platform (Najiz.sa) has four portals: individuals; businesses; lawyers; and government bodies.

It also classifies many services according to specialism, making it easier for people to access judiciary services, including enforcement, authorization, documentation, acknowledgment, social cases and licensing services.

The platform provides more than 160 judicial services that beneficiaries can use by following simple and easy steps, saving them time and effort.

They can also access these services through the Najiz application, available on all smartphones.


Al-Baha festival provides economic benefits to farmers

Updated 45 min 4 sec ago
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Al-Baha festival provides economic benefits to farmers

  • Influx of visitors results in increased sales 

AL-BAHA: More than 45 farmers, beekeepers, and small business owners participated in the fourth Khayrat Al-Baha Festival. 

Organized by the region’s Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, the seasonal festival provided a valuable opportunity for all farmers in the region to showcase their agricultural products, including various types of fruits, olives, honey, and their derivatives.

Several of the participating farmers said that the event provided them with considerable marketing and selling opportunities.

Farmers said their sales had increased each year due to the influx of visitors for the festival, which first hit the calendar in 2021.

One of them, Saleh Al-Ghamdi, pointed out that the festival was one of the most important economic and tourism events in the region.

Ali bin Aoun, another farmer, said that the Khayrat Al-Baha Festival had contributed to the development of the agricultural sector, especially olive production and derivatives in the region, and had encouraged producers to expand their projects. 

He noted that it provided opportunities to market, promote, and introduce products, in addition to exchanging experiences with other farmers and connecting with companies to stay updated on the latest developments in agricultural technologies.

The agricultural sector in the Al-Baha region, including Sarat and Tihama, provides an essential part of the region’s tourism identity.