Pilgrims perform final rites of Hajj as Muslims celebrate Eid Al-Adha

1 / 2
Pilgrims circumambulate the Holy Kaaba at the Grand Mosque in Makkah on Sunday as they perform the final rites of Hajj. (SPA)
2 / 2
Pilgrims circumambulate the Holy Kaaba at the Grand Mosque in Makkah on Sunday as they perform the final rites of Hajj. (SPA)
Short Url
Updated 17 June 2024
Follow

Pilgrims perform final rites of Hajj as Muslims celebrate Eid Al-Adha

  • More than 850,000 pilgrims had performed Tawaf Al-Ifadah by Sunday night in Makkah
  • The stoning is among the final rites of the Hajj, which is one of the Five Pillars of Islam

MINA: More than 850,000 pilgrims had performed Tawaf Al-Ifadah by Sunday night in Makkah, the ritual marking the final days of the Hajj and the start of the Eid Al-Adha celebrations for Muslims around the world.

The long day started with masses of pilgrims embarking on a symbolic stoning of the devil in Muzdalifah under the soaring summer heat. The stoning is among the final rites of the Hajj, which is one of the Five Pillars of Islam.

It came a day after more than 1.8 million pilgrims congregated at a sacred hill, known as Mount Arafat, outside the holy city of Makkah, which Muslim pilgrims visit to perform the annual five-day rituals of Hajj. The Tawaf Al Ifadah is performed by Hajj pilgrims after the returning from Mina.

In a press conference on Sunday night, Col. Talal bin Abdulmohsen Al-Shalhoub, spokesperson of the Saudi Ministry of Interior, said that all pilgrims safely returned to their tents in Mina after departing from Muzdalifah.

He emphasized that security forces are continuing their operations to ensure the security and safety of the Guests of Allah throughout their stay in Mina, including their rituals at the Jamarat Bridge and within the Grand Mosque.“These services encompass crowd control and management on all routes connecting their accommodations in tents, the bridge, and the Grand Mosque, as well as during their tawaf. I urge all guests to adhere strictly to the instructions governing their ritual performances,” he stated.




Pilgrims cast stones at pillars in the symbolic stoning of the devil, one of the last rites of Hajj, at the Jamarat in Mina, near the holy city of Makkah, on June 16, 2024. (SPA)

The spokesperson also advised pilgrims not to carry personal belongings when heading to the Jamarat Bridge or the Holy Mosque.

“Furthermore, I urge those intending to leave Mina on the second day of Tashreeq to follow the specified guidelines,” he added.

The days of Tashreeq are the three days that follow the 10th of Dhu al-Hijjah, Eid al-Adha, and are known for the ritual of stoning the three pillars in Mina, symbolizing the rejection of temptation and evil.

However, it is permissible for pilgrims to leave Makkah before sunset on the 12th day of Dhul Hijjah.Al-Shalhoub further reported that the 911 center in the Makkah region had received a total of 78,872 calls on the 10th of Thul Hijjah, covering security reports and service inquiries, all of which were promptly addressed.

He highlighted the close monitoring by Saudi leadership of all security sectors, noting continuous enhancements in their performance each year.“Our security personnel serve as exemplary role models in fulfilling their duties and facilitating the Hajj journey for pilgrims,” he concluded.

For his part, Ayedh Al-Ghuwainem, deputy minister of Hajj and Umrah for Hajj affairs said that the organizational plans and efforts were implemented in harmony with all the participating Hajj agencies.

“The stoning process occurred safely and tranquilly within just ten hours, achieving a compliance rate of 95 percent with the instructions,” he said.

He further added that the plans were designed to accommodate the diverse jurisprudential preferences of pilgrims using modern technology and preplanned schedules for grouping the pilgrims.Al-Ghuwainem stated that more than 800,000 pilgrims had arrived in Mina before dawn on Sunday, and by 8 a.m., all pilgrims had reached Mina.

On their arrival at the Jamarat Bridge, some 70 percent of the pilgrims used the first and fourth floors, while the rest of them went through the second and third floors, according to the deputy minister.

“Moreover, more than 850,000 worshippers have so far performed the Ifadah tawaf since midnight using shuttle bus services from and to the Grand Mosque,” he said.

The deputy minister added that the challenge they faced along with the concerned authorities was that most of the pilgrims preferred to go on foot, despite all the awareness campaigns and the availability of all means of transportation. He also urged the pilgrims to follow the instructions.


Saudi Arabia rejects, condemns Israeli security minister’s visit to Al-Aqsa Mosque compound

Israel’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir speaks at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem on July 17, 2024. (AFP)
Updated 51 min 39 sec ago
Follow

Saudi Arabia rejects, condemns Israeli security minister’s visit to Al-Aqsa Mosque compound

  • The Kingdom’s Foreign Ministry also condemned an Israeli parliament vote to oppose a Palestinian state
  • Continuing and hostile practices toward Islamic sacred sites and international resolutions demonstrate the aggressive approach of Israeli authorities, ministry said

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia condemned and rejected in the strongest terms on Thursday a visit made by Israel’s far-right national security minister to Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site.

Itamar Ben-Gvir, an ultranationalist settler leader, said he had gone up to the Jerusalem hilltop compound of Al-Aqsa Mosque to pray for the return of Israeli hostages on Thursday.

The Kingdom’s Foreign Ministry also condemned an Israeli parliament vote to oppose a Palestinian state.

The 120-member Knesset late on Wednesday passed by 68 votes to nine a resolution that said a Palestinian state on land occupied by Israel would “perpetuate the Israel-Palestinian conflict and destabilize the region.”

These continuing and hostile practices toward Islamic sacred sites and international regulations and resolutions demonstrate the aggressive approach of Israeli authorities, the ministry said. 

The ministry added that these practices prevent the achievement of any progress aimed at sparing the blood of innocent people and achieving a just and comprehensive peace. 

Earlier on Thursday, the Palestinian Foreign Ministry condemned Ben-Gvir’s visit as a “provocative intrusion” that endangered the fragile status quo regarding the Jerusalem hilltop compound.


Saudi Arabia sets new tourism record

Updated 18 July 2024
Follow

Saudi Arabia sets new tourism record

  • Record 60 million tourists spent a total of SR143 billion in the first half of 2024
  • Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb: Our country is blessed with a multiplicity of tourist destinations and climate diversity

ABHA: A record 60 million tourists to Saudi Arabia during the first half of 2024 spent a total of SR143 billion ($38.1 billion), Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb has announced.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, the minister highlighted the significant advances made by both the Kingdom and its tourism industry which have resulted in such a notable achievement.

“Our country is blessed with a multiplicity of tourist destinations and climate diversity, (as well as) the moderate weather that the Aseer region enjoys during the summer season and low temperatures compared to most cities in the world,” he said.

Al-Khateeb added that visitors could enjoy diverse attractions, from historic villages to farms rich in local products, along with delicious cuisine telling stories of the past.

The third Aseer Season — which will run until Sept. 1 — is ready to make its mark on the region, with renowned locations set to provide rich cultural experiences for visitors.

Known as the cultural hub of Saudi Arabia, Aseer boasts a range of attractions in Abha such as Rijal Alma and Shada Palace Museum. A key landmark is Soudah Peaks, a sustainable luxury mountain destination standing 3,015 meters above sea level — the highest point in the Kingdom.

Al-Khateeb said the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 had strengthened the tourism sector through the launch of the National Tourism Strategy in 2019 and a tourist visa. He also spoke about the launch of the Bachelor of International Hospitality Management program, a partnership between the Ministry of Tourism, King Khalid University, and Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

“Our goal is to develop tourism capabilities and expand international specialized technical colleges and strategic partnership institutes in the field of tourism and hospitality,” he said.

Al-Khateeb said 10,000 training opportunities both inside and outside the Kingdom would be allocated to those working in the Aseer region’s tourism sector.

The National Tourism Strategy aims to reach over 150 million local and international tourists by 2030. In 2023, it reached 109 million.

Al-Khateeb added: “The Tourism Development Fund plays an important role in providing financing, allocating SR7.4 billion to enable over 100 tourism projects around the Kingdom with a value exceeding SR35 billion.”


Saudi MMA fighters make waves in world of combat sport

Updated 18 July 2024
Follow

Saudi MMA fighters make waves in world of combat sport

  • Al-Saif and Al-Qahtani reflect on their career journeys

RIYADH: Two trailblazing Saudi mixed martial arts fighters making waves in the Professional Fighters League praised the development of the sport in the Kingdom.

Hattan Al-Saif and Abdullah Al-Qahtani, the most recent guests on “The Mayman Show” by Arab News, recalled their journeys in the world of combat sports.

“Combat sports were unknown in Saudi Arabia, but thanks to the Ministry of Sports, everyone was really pushing, pushing in different ways in Saudi Arabia to develop the sports in a really good way,” Al-Saif said. “We have Saudi games ... we have a lot of tournaments, I’m really proud to be Saudi and I feel like I’m prouder day by day for being a sports person from Saudi in Saudi.”

Al-Saif, 22, a pioneering female fighter, has already made history with her gold-medal win at the 2023 International Federation of Muay Thai Associations World Championships.

Professional fighter Al-Qahtani said: “When I got the contract I was the first in Saudi Arabia, and then I go there and have a good record and … you know, they love it, and they gave me more of what I need,” he said.

“They push me to be the best, and now I’m in the league, I’m in the PFL MENA League, before it was just two or three fights on the global (stage).”

Of his PFL victories, Al-Qahtani said the contests “made me like a star, because the fights were crazy, and I did something no one can do, you know.”

Both fighters agree that their trailblazing efforts should make the Kingdom proud.

“I’m gonna represent the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. And it’s not an easy country to represent and they’re not easy people to make them satisfied with what you are doing. But I’m quite sure that I’m a good person to do it, and I am so proud to be this person to do it,” Al-Saif said. “So, I’m always pushing myself. I’m always doing the best.”

She added that she is glad to have Al-Qahtani and others who support her.

“I have my team, I have my coach. And also half of Saudi Arabia are in love with me and they are helping me and they are pushing me,” she said. “I see a lot of comments. I see a lot of DMs. I see a lot of messages of Saudi people telling me they believe in me. They are proud of me.”

Al-Qahtani said much of his success is down to the influence of his mother.

“My mom, you know, she wanted me to be a world champion, but which sport? We didn’t know. Just a world champion, in a combat sport.”

Besides combat sports he said he also likes extreme sports such as dirt biking.

“But, when I grew up, I liked Muay Thai, MMA … kickboxing. I know what this sport is, this is a combat sport. I just saw my mom who wanted to push me. I needed to be a world champion … and so, yeah, I just started that.”

At PFL MENA 2 on July 12, when Al-Saif beat Egypt’s Eman Baraka at Riyadh’s Green Halls Auditorium, she had Al-Qahtani, currently the Kingdom’s biggest MMA star, in her corner.


Saudi Arabia’s ozone-depleting gases reduced to 1%

Updated 18 July 2024
Follow

Saudi Arabia’s ozone-depleting gases reduced to 1%

  • Results were part of a study conducted on the Kingdom’s refrigeration and air-conditioning facilities to check the extent of their environmental compliance
  • Field survey checked more than 1,200 facilities to evaluate their general condition and respective corrective plans were activated

RIYADH: The National Center for Environmental Compliance revealed today that the proportion of gases emitted in the Kingdom that deplete the ozone layer has decreased to 1 percent.

The results were part of a study conducted on the Kingdom’s refrigeration and air-conditioning facilities to check the extent of their environmental compliance.

A field survey checked more than 1,200 facilities to evaluate their general condition and respective corrective plans were activated.

NCEC made the announcement at the opening of the workshop “Field study of the environmental compliance extent in the refrigeration and air conditioning sector” and attended by executives and specialists from related government and private agencies.

According to SPA, the results of the study showed that, during the past 10 years, the Kingdom’s prohibited gases were reduced to 1 percent, a proportion representing a positive indicator of the reduction of the ozone-depleting gases consumption plan. On the other hand, the Kingdom’s imports of eco-friendly appliances and gases have increased since 2020, as well as an awareness of the Montreal Protocol that aims to reduce the concentration of ozone-depleting gases and use eco-friendly alternatives. As such, the Kingdom could gradually reduce the consumption of ozone-depleting substances and eliminate them radically by 2030.

The study covered 24 factories using the relevant gases (2 percent), 689 maintenance centers (58 percent), 248 gas distributors and suppliers (21 percent) and 28 importers of appliances (2.3 percent).

The Kingdom ratified the Montreal Protocol in 1993 and established the National Ozone Unit, which later joined the NCEC and is responsible for preparing and implementing national plans for compliance with the protocol in cooperation with the pertinent sectors.


Al-Baha mayor announces launch of ‘Theatrical Nights’ program

Updated 18 July 2024
Follow

Al-Baha mayor announces launch of ‘Theatrical Nights’ program

  • Organized by the Al-Baha Municipality in collaboration with the Saudi Arabian Society for Culture and Arts and the private sector, the event will be held from July 21 to 27
  • Ali Al-Sawat: Al-Baha Theatrical Nights program will present a diverse range of theatrical performances, including comedic, social, and patriotic themes

RIYADH: Ali Al-Sawat, the mayor of Al-Baha region, announced the upcoming launch of the “Al-Baha Theatrical Nights” program, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Organized by the Al-Baha Municipality in collaboration with the Saudi Arabian Society for Culture and Arts and the private sector, the event will be held from July 21 to 27.

Al-Sawat said the program is part of the “A Summer in Al-Baha: Embrace Serenity” festival and includes theatrical performances featuring stars from outside the region, along with artists from Al-Baha. These local artists will introduce themselves to the audience and visitors through seven theatrical performances, all being presented for the first time in Al-Baha region.

He said that the “Al-Baha Theatrical Nights” program will present a diverse range of theatrical performances, including comedic, social, and patriotic themes, all marked by suspense and amazement.”

“These performances will foster a cultural and artistic atmosphere that complements the entertainment events and summer activities. Through this harmony, Al-Baha will be transformed into a vibrant hub featuring international shows, concerts, folk performances, fashion, heritage exhibitions, and culinary arts,” he added.

Al-Sawat confirmed that the theatrical performances include a women-only play, which will be held at the municipality’s theater, the Baljurashi Municipality Theater, and the Wesam Al-Badyah Theater in Al-Mandaq, concluding at the Baljurashi Front Theater. Additionally, the play “Lohmat Watan” (Homeland Kinship) will be staged at the Al-Baha Lights Festival Theater and the Wesam Al-Badyah Theater, with its final performance at the Baljurashi Front Theater.

He said this will be the first time the Al-Baha Summer Festival includes theatrical performances among its various activities, alongside the major events and parties announced in this year’s summer calendar.

According to SPA, with the support of the governor of Al-Baha, the region aims to attract more than 2.5 million visitors and tourists. Al-Baha’s enchanting nature, moderate climate, and well-developed facilities, services and infrastructure have earned it a strong reputation and significant momentum as one of the premier tourist destinations for the Saudi summer this year.