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

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Government agencies in the Kingdom play a vital role in providing humanitarian services to ensure the safety and comfort of pilgrims during Hajj. (SPA)
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Government agencies in the Kingdom play a vital role in providing humanitarian services to ensure the safety and comfort of pilgrims during Hajj. (SPA)
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Government agencies in the Kingdom play a vital role in providing humanitarian services to ensure the safety and comfort of pilgrims during Hajj. (SPA)
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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.


How Saudi Arabia’s hunting laws are protecting its wildlife

Updated 13 July 2024
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How Saudi Arabia’s hunting laws are protecting its wildlife

  • Saudi Arabia has strict laws regarding hunting, regulating bag limits and prohibiting some species from being hunted entirely
  • The Kingdom’s Special Forces for Environmental Security help enforce the country’s environmental regulations

RIYADH: Though far from the wild tundra of Alaska and the wide grasslands of South Africa, Saudi Arabia still offers hunters and falconers an engaging hunting experience. Hunting has been a popular activity in the country for many years, attracting both locals and tourists.

However, hunting can also have a severe negative impact on native wildlife. Overhunting in the past led to the serious decline of many species, from the Arabian leopard to the ibex and oryx.

In recent times, along with a multitude of other eco-friendly measures, the Kingdom has implemented strict rules and regulations governing animal hunting to ensure the sustainability of wildlife populations and protect endangered species.

The Special Forces for Environmental Security agency is helping the Kingdom enforce wildlife-protection regulations. (SPA)


Hunting laws and regulations

In Saudi Arabia, individuals who wish to engage in hunting must first obtain necessary permits from the authorities. There are two main types of hunting permits available — recreational permits for personal use and commercial permits for hunting activities conducted for profit.

Certain hunting practices are strictly prohibited, such as using automatic weapons, hunting during breeding seasons, and targeting endangered species. Bag limits and size restrictions are also in place for different game species to prevent excessive hunting and maintain healthy population levels.

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Furthermore, safety regulations, such as wearing appropriate hunting gear and practicing firearm safety, are enforced to protect both hunters and the surrounding environment.

Violators of these laws can expect fines and the confiscation of their hunting equipment, with hunting without a license using firearms costing rule-breakers $21,300. Poaching or hunting protected species can lead to substantial fines and even imprisonment.

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Prohibited for hunting at any time: Animals include Arabian leopards, hyenas, wolves, jackals, lynxes, sand cats, martens, and honey badgers. Gazelles include Arabian oryx, reem (sand) gazelle, mountain gazelle, and Nubian and Persian gazelles. Every type of indigenous bird.

The fine for unauthorized hunting in Saudi Arabia is SR10,000 ($2,666). The fine for harming living animals is from SR1,500 to SR200,000.

Hunting is permitted in places designated by the National Center for Wildlife and announced periodically.

Hunting pregnant females of wild animal species, as well as interfering with their nests, eggs, or habitats, is strictly prohibited.

Earlier this year, the NCW’s campaign #ProtectSaudiWildlife asked everyone to pledge to protect and conserve the rich biodiversity of Saudi Arabia.  

At the beginning of each wild hunting season, the center issues a list of the types of wild animal species permitted to be hunted during the wild hunting season, and the quantities during the license validity period.

Law enforcement and monitoring

These laws and regulations are enforced by Saudi Arabia’s Special Forces for Environmental Security, or SFES. Using modern technology and social media, SFES has enhanced its outreach, enabling it to intervene in illegal activities such as hunting, logging, and the sale of wild animals, thereby safeguarding the country’s rich biological diversity.

Patrol activities have been initiated across various provinces to ensure the adherence to conservation laws, reflecting a proactive approach to wildlife management. This month, the SFES announced the arrest of two Saudi citizens for hunting without licenses inside the King Salman Royal Natural Reserve.

The SFES also enforces the Kingdom’s other environmental laws, including illegal logging and grazing of livestock in prohibited areas.

The Special Forces for Environmental Security agency is helping the Kingdom enforce wildlife-protection regulations. (SPA)

Protected species and environmental havens 

Various types of animals are protected under special laws, including endangered species such as Arabian leopards, Arabian wolves, and the terrestrial birds known as houbara bustard. Through the implementation of hunting regulations, the country has witnessed the revival of populations of endangered species such as the famed Arabian oryx.

Abdulmajeed Al-Dhaban, executive vice president of operations at the Imam Turki bin Abdullah Royal Nature Reserve, praised the Kingdom’s strict hunting laws and highlighted the central role they play in the protection of the natural environment of the region.

The Imam Turki bin Abdullah Royal Nature Reserve, established in 2018, is a more than 91,000 sq km eco-tourism reserve dedicated to protecting the more than 180 plant and 60 animal species living within its borders

Abdulmajeed Al-Dhaban, executive vice president of operations at the Imam Turki bin Abdullah Royal Nature Reserve. (Supplied)

The reserve is also governed by a comprehensive set of regulations covering beekeeping, entry and transit, grazing, visiting and camping, recreational activities, and sustainable fishing.

“By establishing these integrated guidelines, we aim to strike a careful balance between preserving the reserve’s delicate ecosystems and allowing controlled public access and use. Our goal is to safeguard the natural wonders of this protected area while also facilitating responsible enjoyment and appreciation by the local community and visitors,” Al-Dhaban told Arab News.

The reserve was used for a groundbreaking conservation program — the reintroduction of the Arabian oryx, which had been extinct in the wild since 1972. Since its establishment in 2021, the program has reintroduced hundreds of oryxes back into their natural habitat.

Fines for huntingprotected birds and animals

Arabian leopard SR40,000 ($10,664)

Arabian oryx SR70,000 ($18,662)

Arabian wolf SR80,000 ($21,328)

Arabian sand gazelle SR25,000 ($6,665)

Houbara bustard SR25,000 ($6,665)

Spiny-tailed lizard SR3,000 ($799)

Community engagement 

Saudi Arabia has also engaged in joint conservation projects with entities such as the World Wildlife Fund and the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

However, those in the Kingdom dedicated to conservation stress the need for a community-based approach, with Saudi Arabia’s own citizens getting involved.

“At the Imam Turki bin Abdullah Royal Reserve Development Authority, we’re deeply committed to cultivating environmental awareness and engaging the community in our initiatives,” Al-Dhaban said.

“Our goal is to contribute to sustainable development and environmental protection through a diverse array of beneficial projects. We firmly believe that empowering the community to participate in these efforts is key to making a lasting, positive impact.”

The King Khaled and Imam Abdulaziz bin Mohammed royal reserves have several tourist attractions, organized with local businesses, including stargazing, camping, safaris, hiking, and horse and camel riding. (IARDA PHOTO)

The authority’s main priority is to sustain the preservation for future generations through initiatives, projects, and events organized throughout the year with the participation of individuals from all age groups.

“The Imam Turki bin Abdullah Royal Reserve Development Authority is keen to raise awareness among young people and children of the importance of preserving the purity of nature and promoting their sense of responsibility from a young age toward the environment, wildlife and innate organisms, the attack on which is contrary to religious values and human principles. A simplified awareness-raising content is provided that explains the importance of preserving wildlife and flora and the individual’s responsibility toward the environment,” Al-Dhaban said.

Throughout the year, the Imam Turki bin Abdullah Royal Reserve Development Authority organizes numerous events such as the Zubaida Trail Winter Festival and celebrations of holidays such as Eid Al-Adha, all of which include many activities that integrate environmental awareness, education, and recreation for the whole family.

One of the authority’s most recent projects, launched in May in partnership with the National Center for Vegetation Cover Development and Combating Desertification, is a tree-planting initiative with the participation of primary school students.

The Saudi Green Initiative Day reflects Saudi Arabia’s vision and dedication to fostering a culture of sustainability. (SPA)

“This was not the first time that the reserve had organized afforestation and seedling farming initiatives with the participation of community volunteers, as the Imam Turki bin Abdullah Royal Reserve has so far grown more than 600,000 trees,” Al-Dhaban said

Ecotourism

As Saudi Arabia’s tourism industry grows under the goals of Saudi Vision 2030, so too does the ecotourism trend in the country.

The Imam Turki bin Abdullah Royal Reserve Development Authority supports productive families and entrepreneurs through interactive initiatives aimed at developing job skills, which in turn enable the protection of the natural environment, biodiversity, and environmental balance, the promotion and preservation of community heritage, and the revitalization of ecotourism.

Connecting with animals and their habitats is a vital aspect of fostering a deeper appreciation for nature and wildlife, promoting environmental conservation, and enhancing personal well-being through interaction with nature.

In Saudi Arabia, some preservation efforts have taken a unique approach by opening resorts within these habitats. Under the guidance of the Sustainable Tourism Global Center, announced by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the COP26 conference in 2021, Saudi firms aim to build high-end resorts and lodges to promote eco-friendly adventures and agritourism.

These resorts offer a blend of luxury accommodation and immersive wildlife experiences, allowing guests to appreciate the power and beauty of Saudi Arabia’s diverse natural environments — and hopefully, fostering a sense of care about their preservation for generations to come.

 

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Return of the leopard is at the heart of plans to conserve and regenerate Saudi Arabia’s landscapes and wildlife
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Prince Majid Park blooms with entertainment, culture and fun for Jeddah Season

Characters dressed in costume greet guests with smiles and offer photo opportunities. (Supplied)
Updated 12 July 2024
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Prince Majid Park blooms with entertainment, culture and fun for Jeddah Season

  • Little friend land is a paradise for young adventurers, where children can immerse themselves in a world of Lego, unleash their imagination with whiteboards and paper, and enjoy a variety of engaging activities

JEDDAH: The highly anticipated Jeddah Season 2024 has officially launched with the opening of Prince Majid Park, the season’s first free zone. The park, the largest in Jeddah, promises a wide range of entertainment for all ages, from exhilarating shows to captivating cultural experiences.

Visitors enter a whimsical world, beginning in flower land, where flower-themed characters dressed in costume greet guests with smiles and offer photo opportunities. The centerpiece of the zone is a magnificent fountain, its cascading water dancing to music and creating a breathtaking visual spectacle.

Prince Majid Park goes beyond entertainment, providing a vibrant center for the community. (Supplied)

Next, art land offers a haven for budding artists and art enthusiasts, where children can unleash their creativity in workshops, crafting candles and engaging in various art projects. Skilled artists display their creativity and talent in dedicated booths, offering visitors the opportunity to have their portraits painted. Exhibitions by local artists provide a platform for artistic expression and cultural exchange.

“It’s incredibly enjoyable to share my art with the visitors,” said Mohammed Salim, an Egyptian artist, as he sketched a visitor’s portrait. “There are so many of us here, creating live drawings and paintings, either capturing the faces of the people who come by or working from images they bring us. It’s a wonderful way to showcase our talents and connect with people on a very personal level.”

Prince Majid Park goes beyond entertainment, providing a vibrant center for the community. (Supplied)

Little friend land is a paradise for young adventurers, where children can immerse themselves in a world of Lego, unleash their imagination with whiteboards and paper, and enjoy a variety of engaging activities.

Likewise, festival land is a vibrant hub for shopping, dining and games, where visitors can browse through a selection of shops, indulge in culinary delights at the food court, and enjoy live musical performances at the mini-stage.

Prince Majid Park goes beyond entertainment, providing a vibrant center for the community. (Supplied)

The main stage at Prince Majid Park transforms into a hub of entertainment, hosting four shows daily, with performances ranging from dazzling circus acts with breathtaking acrobatics to electrifying DJ sets that will leave audiences in wonder. For those seeking a tranquil escape, wood land offers a labyrinth game and a lush green area.  

Adding to the festive atmosphere, parade shows burst on to the scene every half hour, creating a whirlwind of energy and excitement. Each show lasts 30 minutes, adding a vibrant layer to the park’s atmosphere. A show by stilt walkers, with participants dressed in colorful costumes, adds a touch of eccentricity with three daily shows.

Prince Majid Park goes beyond entertainment, providing a vibrant center for the community. (Supplied)

For those seeking a break from the festivities, the park offers a spacious play area with swings and slides, ensuring fun for children of all ages.

“I’ve never seen a park quite like Prince Majid Park,” said Najm Fatima, a local resident. “It’s a vibrant explosion of colors, laughter and entertainment. It’s a place where everyone can find something to enjoy, whether you’re an art enthusiast, a thrill-seeker, or just looking for a relaxing day out.”

Prince Majid Park goes beyond entertainment, providing a vibrant center for the community. (Supplied)

Her friend, Sarah, said: “The kids are having a blast, especially with the stilt walkers and the Lego building area. It’s truly a place for families to make memories together.”

Mohammed Ali said that he had never seen children so enthralled by art as he watched a group of children excitedly sketching alongside him. “Their energy at Prince Majid Park is infectious, reminding us that art and performance can bring joy and wonder to people of all ages,” he said.

Prince Majid Park goes beyond entertainment, providing a vibrant center for the community. This grand celebration of Jeddah Season 2024 promises a memorable experience, offering attractions that cater to all tastes and interests.

While entry to the park is free, visitors still need to book ticket online through the Saudi Events app.

 


4th edition of Khayrat Al-Baha Festival kicks off

Updated 12 July 2024
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4th edition of Khayrat Al-Baha Festival kicks off

  • Fahd Muftah: "the festival comprises 50 areas, 45 of which are dedicated to farmers and five to government agencies"

AL-BAHA: Jedaia Al-Qahtany, the assistant undersecretary for development affairs of Al-Baha, inaugurated on Friday the fourth edition of the Khayrat Al-Baha Festival at Al-Shafa Park under the patronage of Al-Baha Gov. Prince Hussam bin Saud.

Fahd Muftah, director of the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture’s branch in Al-Baha, said the festival comprises 50 areas, 45 of which are dedicated to farmers and five to government agencies.

He said the five-day festival, along with various entertainment events, will organize workshops, seminars, and courses with the aim of developing farmers’ skills, marketing agricultural products, providing agricultural extension services, and raising awareness on topics pertaining to the field.

 


Saudi Embassy in Poland organizes celebration of UN’s adoption of Nov. 24 as World Conjoined Twins Day

Updated 12 July 2024
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Saudi Embassy in Poland organizes celebration of UN’s adoption of Nov. 24 as World Conjoined Twins Day

  • The Kingdom’s Conjoined Twins Program has treated around 139 sets of conjoined twins from countries around the world since its launch in 1990

WARSAW: The Saudi Embassy in Poland organized a cultural and educational event to celebrate the UN’s adoption of Nov. 24 of every year as World Conjoined Twins Day, an initiative by the Kingdom to raise awareness of these human conditions, celebrate achievements in the field of separation surgeries and introduce the Saudi Program for Conjoined Twins Separation.

The event was attended by Polish officials and parliamentarians, the Polish twins Daria and Olga Kolacz, the president and students of the King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Center for Promoting Cultural and Educational Dialogue in Janikowo, Poland, and the city’s deputy mayor, as well as a number of media personnel and diplomats.

 

 


Madinah participates in Quality of Life and UN Habitat programs

Updated 12 July 2024
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Madinah participates in Quality of Life and UN Habitat programs

  • The event was held on the sidelines of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development
  • Madinah achieved the gold level in the SDG Cities program, awarded by UN-Habitat

NEW YORK: The Madinah Region Development Authority took part in the “Quality of Life Initiative to Accelerate the Achievement of Sustainable Development Goals”, an event organized by the Quality of Life Program — one of the initiatives under Saudi Vision 2030 — and the UN Human Settlements Program.
The event was held on the sidelines of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development at UN headquarters in New York from July 8 to 18.
Participants included Nava Guerrero, the mayor of Queretaro, Mexico, and Abdulrahman bin Hassan Ibrahim, executive director of data and innovation at the MDRA.
He drew attention to Madinah’s efforts in localizing sustainable development goals and its selection as one of the first five cities in the global Quality of Life Index initiative. He also highlighted Saudi authorities’ efforts to localize sustainable development goals.
Madinah achieved the gold level in the SDG Cities program, awarded by UN-Habitat. This makes Madinah the first Saudi city, the first in the Arab world, and the third globally to receive this recognition.
UN-Habitat is a program that works for a better urban future by contributing to the development of socially and environmentally sustainable human settlements and ensuring adequate shelter for all.