Basking in blessings: Celebrities share their joy ahead of Hajj

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UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev at the Grand Mosque in Makkah. (Supplied)
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Pakistani television host Nida Yasir embarking on Hajj. (Supplied)
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Updated 13 June 2024
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Basking in blessings: Celebrities share their joy ahead of Hajj

  • High-profile pilgrims join the millions embarking on the spiritual journey

RIYADH: Every year Muslims from across the world gather in the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah ahead of the Hajj pilgrimage, a once-in-a-lifetime spiritual journey for many.

With Hajj beginning on Friday, June 14, pilgrims will congregate in the tent city of Mina, near Makkah.

Among the worshippers will be celebrities taking time out of their busy schedules to connect with their faith.

High-profile figures performing Hajj this year include former Indian professional tennis player and doubles world No. 1 Sania Mirza; UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev; New Zealand heavyweight boxer and former professional rugby player Sonny Bill Williams; Malaysia-based Indian Islamic public orator Zakir Abdul Karim Naik; Pakistani television host and former actress Nida Yasir; and Pakistani actress, film director and producer Reema Khan.

Mirza took to social media to express her hopes and preparations for this “transformative experience,” one of the five pillars of Islam.

In a message on X, she sought “forgiveness for any wrongdoings and shortcomings,” saying that her heart is “filled with gratitude for this chance to seek redemption and spiritual renewal.”

She added: “I pray that Allah accepts my prayers and guides me on this blessed path. I am deeply fortunate and feel immensely grateful. Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers as I embark on this journey of a lifetime. I hope to come back as a better human being with a humble heart and stronger Imaan.”

Mirza will be accompanied by her sister Anam, a fashion curator, entrepreneur and vlogger, and Anam’s Indian cricketer husband Mohammad Asaduddin, son of cricketing legend Mohammad Azharuddin.

Taking to Instagram, Anam wrote: “As I embark on the most significant journey of my life, the pilgrimage to Hajj, I wanted to share a few words with you. This journey is not just a physical one, but a deeply spiritual experience that I’ve been preparing for, both in heart and mind. It’s a time for reflection, repentance, and renewal of faith.”

Makhachev, just days after defeating Dustin Poirier in their UFC title clash, said that he and his family are heading to Makkah to perform Hajj.

Hasib Noor, a scholar with Islamic Relief UK, posted a photo with the fighter on X, writing: “In Madinah — The City of True Humanly Brotherly Love. Allah uses him for the benefit of Islam & Muslims, guides others through him.”

Sonny Bill Williams posted a video message on X with the caption: “I’ve been invited to perform Hajj, Alhamdullilah.”

Williams is only the second person to represent New Zealand in rugby union after first playing for the country in rugby league, and is one of only 43 players to have won the Rugby World Cup twice.

Naik, the founder and president of the Islamic Research Foundation and Peace TV, praised the Hajj arrangements.

In a message posted on X on Tuesday, he said that his family were invited by Tawfiq Al-Rabiah, Saudi Arabia’s Hajj minister.

It added: “Dr. Zakir Naik landed in Jeddah this morning. Alhamdulillaah 3 officials were there to receive him. On entering the VIP lounge he completed immigration & came out of the airport in less than a minute. Never did Dr. Zakir Naik experience such a fast and prompt service in his life & that too during Hajj.”

Pakistani television host Nida Yasir wrote on Instagram as she departed for Saudi Arabia: “Duaon me yaad rakheaga (remember me in prayers). Leaving for Hajj. Kaha suna mauf (Apologies for any wrongdoings).”

Pakistani actress Reema Khan was in Madinah ahead of Hajj.

Sharing a picture of herself on Instagram, she wrote: “Allhumdullilah arrived in Madinah on Friday morning.”


Saudi Justice Ministry issues over 330,000 electronic reconciliation documents

Updated 5 sec ago
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Saudi Justice Ministry issues over 330,000 electronic reconciliation documents

  • The center offers reconciliation services on the website taradhi.moj.gov.sa to resolve disputes, with skilled mediators and experts operating according to institutional procedures and approved legislation

RIYADH: The Reconciliation Center at the Ministry of Justice issued over 330,000 electronic reconciliation documents in nine tracks, including personal status, traffic, real estate, criminal, commercial, labor, financial, intellectual property, and medical errors.

The center offers reconciliation services on the website taradhi.moj.gov.sa to resolve disputes, with skilled mediators and experts operating according to institutional procedures and approved legislation.

The platform’s reconciliation documents are legally binding and can be enforced through legal actions if agreements are violated, promoting preventive justice and decreasing court cases.

It continuously enhances user experience by introducing new features that simplify and expedite processes, lessen workload and manual labor, and establish electronic connections with internal entities to adapt to digital transformation needs. This reflects the ministry’s progress in digitalization, ensuring the satisfaction of the parties involved while safeguarding their rights.

 


Saudi wheat farmers receive $78.7m in payments

Updated 4 min 8 sec ago
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Saudi wheat farmers receive $78.7m in payments

  • The authority said that SR295,177,176 ($78.7 million) was deposited into the bank accounts of 792 farmers, covering a net amount of 175,703 tonnes of wheat

RIYADH: The Saudi General Food Security Authority has disbursed the first installment of payments to local wheat farmers who supplied their allocated quantities for the 2024 season.

The payments were processed and accounts were closed through the authority’s official electronic platform Mahsoly.

The authority said that SR295,177,176 ($78.7 million) was deposited into the bank accounts of 792 farmers, covering a net amount of 175,703 tonnes of wheat.

The authority began receiving local wheat from farmers for the current season on April 21. A total of 552,535 tonnes has been received from 2,751 farmers so far.

The initiative follows the Cabinet’s decision to authorize the authority to purchase up to 1.5 million tonnes of wheat annually from farmers for a period of five years.

 


Saudi Arabia condemns attempt on life of Donald Trump

Updated 14 July 2024
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Saudi Arabia condemns attempt on life of Donald Trump

  • Kingdom affirmed its rejection of all forms of violence

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia expressed on Sunday its condemnation and denunciation of the attempt on the life of the former President of the US Donald Trump, Saudi Press Agency reported.

The Kingdom affirmed its complete solidarity with the US, the former President and his family.

Trump was hit in the ear in an assassination attempt by a gunman at a campaign rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday.

The 78-year-old former president was rushed off stage with blood streaked across his face after the shooting, while the shooter and a bystander were killed and two spectators were critically injured.

Saudi Arabia also affirmed its rejection of all forms of violence, expressing its condolences to the family of the deceased and its wishes for a speedy recovery for those injured.

 


Weqaa identifies the most invasive plants found in the Kingdom

Updated 14 July 2024
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Weqaa identifies the most invasive plants found in the Kingdom

  • Project part of Integrated Pest Management scheme, one of National Transformation Program initiatives

RIYADH: Weqaa, the National Center for the Prevention and Control of Plant Pests and Animal Diseases, recently identified the most invasive plant types discovered in the Kingdom, the Saudi Press Agency reported

The invasive plants identified by the technical team were the prickly pear; two types of Austrocylindropuntia — Hudson pear cactus and Eve’s needle cactus; mesquite (Prosopis); tree tobacco; parthenium; lantanas; two types of argemone; sweet rush plant; and two types of reeds — the common reed and the giant reed.

Weqaa’s CEO Ayman bin Saad Al-Ghamdi said: “This success is the result of the tireless efforts and field visits carried out by the project’s team in various regions of the Kingdom to identify the most important invasive plants and their proliferation location.”

“The Kingdom’s identification and control of invasive plants project is currently working on a new experiment to control the spreading of the opuntia cylindrica and tree tobacco,” Al-Ghamdi said.

He also pointed out that the identification and diagnosis of invasive plants is being studied in cooperation with experts from the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International, and that they are relying on the results of the plants’ identification to create Weqaa’s unique atlas.

Al-Ghamdi underlined the importance of the phytosanitary (plant health) sector in ensuring the monitoring and control of plant pests and crop diseases, applying good agricultural practices, and protecting the flora and biodiversity from pests through the implementation of all the available technical, administrative, legal and logistical measures.

The aforementioned project is part of the Integrated Pest Management scheme, one of the National Transformation Program initiatives aimed at controlling agricultural pests and invasive plants as well as protecting plant production.

The project is implemented in cooperation with the National Center for Vegetation Development and Combating Desertification to ensure the health of plants and crops, namely cultivated plants, to promote economic development and achieve the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 goals.


Eastern Municipality signs 6,000 development investment contracts

Updated 14 July 2024
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Eastern Municipality signs 6,000 development investment contracts

  • According to SPA, this will contribute to the creation of tens of thousands of job opportunities and support economic growth and development in the area

DAMMAM: The Eastern Province Municipality has recently confirmed more than 6,000 contracts in the field of investments and revenue development in the cities and governorates of the province, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

According to SPA, this will contribute to the creation of tens of thousands of job opportunities and support economic growth and development in the area.

The municipality said that the contracts were signed in cooperation with the Eastern Province Development Authority. It also stated that Prince Saud bin Nayef, governor of the Eastern Province, launched 18 development and investment projects at the beginning of this year, with a total cost of SR14 billion ($3.733 billion) to support the quality of life in the province.

This includes improving services and city economies by making a digital and qualitative leap in the number of projects and quality investment services through launching a large and diverse range of projects, contracts, agreements, investment opportunities and developments in various cities and governorates of the region, according to SPA.

The municipality said that Dammam city has obtained most of the projects, contracts, opportunities and investment agreements. These include investment in King Abdullah Cultural Hall, Dammam Corniche development, Al Marjan Island marine activities project, collaboration with Saudi Entertainment Ventures (Seven) of the Public Investment Fund, an opportunity to invest in naming and sponsorship rights for the Dammam Corniche, infrastructure development projects, industrial and service plans, landfills and recycling factories in partnership with the Saudi Investment Recycling Company affiliated with the PIF.

Additionally, there are projects in resorts, transport, sea taxis, ports and marinas to connect cities and governorates in the Eastern Province. These projects are expected to bring about a significant improvement in entertainment services, tourism, marine activities, infrastructure, environmental safety and industry, ultimately enhancing the quality of life.