Hajj pilgrims begin final rituals before returning home

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Hundreds of thousands of this year’s over 1.8 million Hajj pilgrims began performing the final rituals of their pilgrimage early Tuesday morning in preparation for their return home. (AN photo Huda Bashatah)
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Hundreds of thousands of this year’s over 1.8 million Hajj pilgrims began performing the final rituals of their pilgrimage early Tuesday morning in preparation for their return home. (AN photo Huda Bashatah)
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Hundreds of thousands of this year’s over 1.8 million Hajj pilgrims began performing the final rituals of their pilgrimage early Tuesday morning in preparation for their return home. (AN photo Huda Bashatah)
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Hundreds of thousands of this year’s over 1.8 million Hajj pilgrims began performing the final rituals of their pilgrimage early Tuesday morning in preparation for their return home. (AN photo Huda Bashatah)
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Hundreds of thousands of this year’s over 1.8 million Hajj pilgrims began performing the final rituals of their pilgrimage early Tuesday morning in preparation for their return home. (AN photo Huda Bashatah)
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Updated 19 June 2024
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Hajj pilgrims begin final rituals before returning home

  • More than 1.8m have performed Hajj this year

MINA: Hundreds of thousands of this year’s total of more than 1.8 million Hajj pilgrims began performing the final rituals of their pilgrimage early on Tuesday morning before preparing for the return home.

Many began stoning the pillars in Mina at noon on Tuesday and then headed to the Grand Mosque to perform the final ritual of circumambulating the Kaaba seven times, known as Tawaf Al-Wadaa, concluding their pilgrimage.

However, those who remain in Mina until sunset on the second day of Tashreeq are required by Islamic teachings to stay for a third day before leaving Makkah.

Speaking to Arab News, Aminatu Haruna, a Nigerian pilgrim, said she will be leaving Makkah on Tuesday to return to her homeland after completing Hajj with her two children.




A majority of this year's 1.8 million Hajj pilgrims began their final rituals early Tuesday morning in preparation for their return home. (AN photo Huda Bashatah)

Talking about the services provided to pilgrims, she said: “All I can say is Alhamdulillah (thank God).

“The Saudi government is really trained, and we have seen so many improvements. They introduced electric cars and scooters. Of course, all the officials, when I stopped to ask them, were always there to help.”




A majority of this year's 1.8 million Hajj pilgrims began their final rituals early Tuesday morning in preparation for their return home. (AN photo Huda Bashatah)

Doran Ahmed and Gina Amin, an Iraqi Kurd couple, were also planning to leave Mina on the same day after fulfilling the stoning ritual.

Ahmed and Amin expressed their gratitude to the Kingdom for preparing Hajj in a “great and seamless way, without any problems.”

They told Arab News: “Today, we bid farewell to this blessed land.”




A majority of this year's 1.8 million Hajj pilgrims began their final rituals early Tuesday morning in preparation for their return home. (AN photo Huda Bashatah)

Many pilgrims, after completing their farewell tawaf, journey to Madinah to pray at the Prophet’s Mosque and visit the city’s numerous Islamic landmarks.

Security staff and Hajj and health officials have confirmed that all their plans were successfully carried out, and no pandemic diseases were recorded.




A majority of this year's 1.8 million Hajj pilgrims began their final rituals early Tuesday morning in preparation for their return home. (AN photo Huda Bashatah)

According to the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, more than 170,000 personnel have served the 1,833,164 pilgrims who performed Hajj this year. Of these, more than 1.61 million came from over 200 countries worldwide.

About 40 million bottles of Zamzam water had been served to pilgrims up to Monday, while 300 food supply contractors had provided 9 million daily meals.




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Meanwhile, the Presidency of Religious Affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque had been preparing to welcome pilgrims arriving to perform the farewell tawaf to complete their Hajj rituals.

A comprehensive package of services had been prepared, including guidance, field awareness, educational lessons, initiatives, and enriching religious activities for pilgrims, according to the Saudi Press Agency.




A majority of this year's 1.8 million Hajj pilgrims began their final rituals early Tuesday morning in preparation for their return home. (AN photo Huda Bashatah)

The Haramain Presidency has painted white more than 11,000 sq. meters of the areas adjacent to the Grand Mosque, using materials which help to reduce the temperature at the site for pilgrims.

This fast-drying chemical can be used both indoors and outdoors, on asphalt or concrete surfaces. The paint used at the mosque reflects sunlight and mitigates the effects of climate change, helping to provide a more comfortable environment for waiting, walking, and gathering.

The temperature in Makkah and Mina reduced from nearly 49 C to 38 C on Tuesday morning, according to a report by the National Center for Meteorology.

 


Saudi provides food aid to Sudan, Yemen

Updated 6 sec ago
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Saudi provides food aid to Sudan, Yemen

RIYADH: The Kingdom’s aid agency KSrelief has continued to provide food to vulnerable families in Sudan and Yemen, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.

In the River Nile state of Sudan, 1,200 boxes of food were given to 6,900 individuals affected by the ongoing conflict in the country.

In the Al-Mansoura district of Yemen’s Aden governorate, KSrelief handed out 413 boxes of food for 2,891 individuals, as a part of its continuing aid project in the war-torn country.


July 21: World’s hottest day since records began

Updated 24 July 2024
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July 21: World’s hottest day since records began

  • Last Sunday was hottest day ever recorded
  • Saudi experts say Kingdom can cope

MAKKAH: Last Sunday was the hottest day measured globally since records began in 1940, climate scientists said on Tuesday.

The global average surface air temperature on July 21 was 17.09C, just above the previous record of 17.08C registered on July 6, 2023. “The Earth has just experienced its warmest day,” said the Copernicus Climate Change Service, the EU’s climate monitor.

Service director Carlo Buontempo said: “We are now in truly uncharted territory and as the climate keeps warming, we are bound to see new records being broken in future months and years.”

Despite the global heat spike, meteorologist Abdulaziz Al-Hussaini told Arab News that temperatures in Saudi Arabia were within their normal annual range. “Observers of Saudi weather patterns are not seeing anything out of the ordinary, even as other nations like Japan report record-breaking temperatures,” he said. “June was actually hotter than what we have experienced in July so far.”

Another weather expert, Walid Al-Haqeel, said that while both June and July had elevated temperatures worldwide, July was notably hotter with more high-temperature days.

Comparing with previous years, he said, “2022 and 2023 had similar heat patterns, but this year there were more hot days, especially in southern Europe, parts of America, the Middle East, Turkey, Bosnia, and Azerbaijan.”  

 


Riyadh rent hike drives demand for home ownership

Updated 23 July 2024
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Riyadh rent hike drives demand for home ownership

  • Ongoing construction boom to improve housing affordability, expert says
  • Harmon described Ejar platform as unresponsive and biased toward landlords, with tenants feeling that their interests are not being adequately protected

RIYADH: The Kingdom’s capital has experienced a significant surge in apartment rental prices in recent years, making it increasingly difficult for many residents to afford suitable accommodation.

This sharp rise in rental costs has led to a growing trend among Riyadh’s population to prioritize home ownership over renting, as they seek to gain more stability and control over their living situations.

According to recent real estate market data, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in central Riyadh has skyrocketed to over SR5,000 ($1,300) per month (numbers differ daily). For larger units, the costs can be even more staggering, with three-bedroom apartments often commanding monthly rents in excess of SR10,000, a CBRE.sa report states.

Exorbitant rent prices have placed a significant financial strain on many middle-class and lower-income families, forcing them to make difficult choices about their housing options. (AN photos by Hajar AlQusayer)

These exorbitant prices have placed a significant financial strain on many middle-class and lower-income families, forcing them to make difficult choices about their housing options.

“It’s become almost impossible for my family to continue renting,” said Shahad Al-Ghamdi, a young administrative manager living in Riyadh. “The rent for even a modest apartment eats up a large portion of my monthly salary, leaving little room for other expenses. I’ve been seriously considering taking out a mortgage and buying a home instead, as it would ultimately be more cost-effective in the long run.”

FASTFACTS

• According to recent real estate market data, the average rent for a one- bedroom apartment in central Riyadh has skyrocketed to over SR5,000 ($1,300) per month (numbers differ daily).

• The Saudi government has introduced mortgage financing programs and other incentives to make it easier for citizens to purchase their own properties.

• Economist and financial analyst Talat Zaki Hafiz cautioned that factors, such as interest rates and inflation, will play a crucial role in determining overall market dynamics.

Al-Ghamdi’s sentiment is echoed by countless other Riyadh residents, who are increasingly viewing home ownership as a more viable and sustainable option compared to the ever-rising rental market.

To address this pressing issue, the Saudi government has introduced mortgage financing programs and other incentives to make it easier for citizens to purchase their own properties. As a result, the demand for home loans has surged, with many banks reporting a significant increase in mortgage applications over the past few years.

However, as highlighted by the experiences of residents like Romana Harmon, the government’s efforts to regulate the rental market through initiatives like Ejar platform have been perceived as largely ineffective.

Exorbitant rent prices have placed a significant financial strain on many middle-class and lower-income families, forcing them to make difficult choices about their housing options. (AN photos by Hajar AlQusayer)

Harmon described Ejar platform as unresponsive and biased toward landlords, with tenants feeling that their interests are not being adequately protected.

Romana said: “I have had experience with them (Ejar), and they do not respond to people who alert them to overly expensive apartments. They should protect both the landlord and tenant, but they don’t. They seem to be on the side of the landlord and owner.”

Harmon’s concerns raises the question of how can the system more effectively serve the people it is designed to help. Harmon’s own rental experience has been a rollercoaster of broken promises and escalating costs, with the landlord apparently increasing her rent by an astonishing 58 percent despite the standard maximum of 5-10 percent.

Exorbitant rent prices have placed a significant financial strain on many middle-class and lower-income families, forcing them to make difficult choices about their housing options. (AN photos by Hajar AlQusayer)

Harmon said that she was able to contact Ejar but they told her that there are no laws that stop the landlord from increasing a new lease.

Harmon, who is an expat working temporarily in Saudi Arabia, is not considering buying a house and has to deal with rent that keeps getting higher.  

Economist and financial analyst Talat Zaki Hafiz acknowledged the ongoing construction boom in Saudi Arabia which has a “value of construction outputs reaching $141.5 billion, a 4.3 percent increase compared to the previous year.”

Hafiz believes that this expansion in housing and office buildings may help narrow the gap between supply and demand, potentially leading to more balanced rental prices and improved housing affordability.

However, Hafiz also cautioned that other factors, such as interest rates and inflation, will play a crucial role in determining overall market dynamics. He remains optimistic about the future, but emphasized the need for continued efforts to address the root causes of the rental crisis and ensure that housing remains accessible and affordable for all.  

“But we are still in good condition compared to countries who are members of G20 and I believe solutions are taking place … it is matter of time to increase the supply of houses,” Hafiz added.

To truly address the rental crisis in Riyadh, the Saudi government must take a more comprehensive and responsive approach. This may involve strengthening rent control regulations, empowering regulatory bodies like Ejar to effectively protect tenants’ interests, and exploring innovative solutions to increase the supply of affordable housing units.

By addressing the systemic issues underlying the rental market, the government can help alleviate the financial burden on Riyadh’s residents and foster a more inclusive and prosperous future for the city.

 


Thriving tree planted by King Faisal a symbol of Saudi-Pakistani relations

The Sapium sebiferum, or Chinese tallow tree, was planted by King Faisal during his 1966 visit to Pakistan. (SPA)
Updated 23 July 2024
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Thriving tree planted by King Faisal a symbol of Saudi-Pakistani relations

  • Dr. Salma Hawsawi: “The Sapium sebiferum tree holds an exceptional place and importance, connecting Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. It represents a model of international bonding for nearly 58 years, since the era of King Faisal”

MAKKAH: In the heart of Islamabad’s International Friendship Garden, a tree stands as a living testament to the enduring bond between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

The Sapium sebiferum, or Chinese tallow tree, was planted by King Faisal during his 1966 visit to Pakistan.

The Sapium sebiferum, or Chinese tallow tree, was planted by King Faisal during his 1966 visit to Pakistan. (SPA)

The tree’s presence in Shakarparian, as the garden is known locally, has inspired a wave of goodwill. Across Pakistan, streets, neighborhoods, mosques, and universities now bear the names of Saudi monarchs, reflecting the deep-rooted affection between the two countries.

The garden, home to trees planted by various world leaders, bursts into bloom each spring. Yet, for many Pakistanis, King Faisal’s tree, as it is locally known, holds special significance. It stands as a living reminder of the shared history and mutual respect between the two nations.

HIGHLIGHT

The presence of the tree planted by King Faisal in Shakarparian, as the garden is known locally, has inspired a wave of goodwill.

King Faisal was among the first guests to plant a tree in this garden, which blossoms with flowers in spring and has become a destination for tourists from around the world.

The Sapium sebiferum, or Chinese tallow tree, was planted by King Faisal during his 1966 visit to Pakistan. (SPA)

Dr. Salma Hawsawi, professor of ancient history at King Saud University, told Arab News: “The Sapium sebiferum tree holds an exceptional place and importance, connecting Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. It represents a model of international bonding for nearly 58 years, since the era of King Faisal.”

The “warmth and enthusiasm” displayed during the state visits are telling, she noted. “They reveal the deep-rooted connection and mutual respect that have grown between our nations over the decades.

“These trees, with their vibrant green hue, have long symbolized hope and prosperity,” Hawsawi explained. “Their robust root systems serve as the foundation for branches, leaves, and fruits. King Faisal laid down the primary foundation.”

The tree is known for its quick growth which “perfectly encapsulates the dynamic expansion of our bilateral ties,” she added, elaborating on how this natural metaphor extends to various facets of the countries’ partnership.

“We have witnessed this accelerated growth in our strategic partnerships, knowledge exchange programs, cultural dialogues, economic investments, and efforts toward political stability and peace. Trees embody growth, prosperity, stability, and continuity. These qualities are deeply ingrained in the multifaceted relationship between our two nations,” Hawsawi concluded.

 


King Salman oasis hosts global chemistry talent event

Updated 23 July 2024
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King Salman oasis hosts global chemistry talent event

  • The students toured an exhibition showcasing research priorities, development and innovation in the Kingdom, focusing on energy and industry-related technologies

RIYADH: The King Salman Science Oasis hosted 333 talented individuals from 90 countries who participated in the 56th International Chemistry Olympiad 2024.

This event was organized by the King Abdulaziz and His Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity in partnership with the Ministry of Education and King Saud University.

The program is in Riyadh from July 22 to July 30, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Tuesday.

During their visit, participants were immersed in a rich learning experience, exploring the history of chemistry in the Kingdom and its crucial role in the industry’s development.

They also delved into the petrochemical industry’s contributions to innovation and entrepreneurship in the Kingdom, gaining valuable insights and knowledge.

The students toured an exhibition showcasing research priorities, development and innovation in the Kingdom, focusing on energy and industry-related technologies.

They also interacted with 13 researchers from the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, who provided insights into areas such as refining, petrochemicals, hydrogen, nuclear sciences, advanced materials, electronics, semiconductors, advanced manufacturing, future energy and mining.

At the end of their visit, students participated in making Taif perfume as part of their experience at the King Salman Science Oasis.