Saleh Al-Shaibi, senior caretaker of the Kaaba, dies

Dr. Saleh bin Zain Al-Abidin Al-Shaibi, the senior caretaker of the Kaaba, died in Makkah on Friday evening. Funeral prayers were held after Fajr on Saturday at the Grand Mosque. (Supplied)
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Updated 22 June 2024
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Saleh Al-Shaibi, senior caretaker of the Kaaba, dies

  • Funeral prayers held after Fajr on Saturday at the Grand Mosque
  • His responsibilities included opening and closing the Kaaba, cleaning, washing, repairing its Kiswa (covering), and welcoming visitors

MAKKAH: Dr. Saleh bin Zain Al-Abidin Al-Shaibi, the senior caretaker of the Kaaba, died in Makkah on Friday evening. Funeral prayers were held after Fajr on Saturday at the Grand Mosque.
Al-Shaibi, who held a doctorate in Islamic studies, was a university professor and an author of several works on creed and history. He was the 77th key holder of the Kaaba since the conquest of Makkah.
His responsibilities included opening and closing the Kaaba, cleaning, washing, repairing its Kiswa (covering), and welcoming visitors. He took over the guardianship after the death of his uncle, Abdulqader Taha Al-Shaibi, in 2013.
His son, Abdulrahman Saleh Al-Shaibi, told Arab News that saying farewell to his father was one of the hardest and saddest moments of his life. He added that the family accepted Allah’s will for a man who was always close to everyone and dedicated his life to serving the family.
He went on to say that his father had been suffering from illness recently but had remained patient and steadfast. The entire community shared in the family’s grief and expressed their sorrow and pain for the loss of the Al-Shaibi family’s pillar.
Al-Shaibi chaired the Department of Creed at Umm Al-Qura University for over two decades. Known for his scholarly approach and love for knowledge, he explored religious and doctrinal issues deeply. An academic at heart, he left a significant and lasting impact.
King Fahd bin Abdulaziz appointed him to the Saudi Shoura Council, and Al-Shaibi served as the deputy to his uncle in the guardianship of the Kaaba until becoming senior caretaker.
His son Abdulrahman added that he had served as his father’s deputy in the guardianship of the Kaaba for five years, after which his cousin Abdulmalik Al-Shaibi had taken over.
He said that his father had wished him to hold the guardianship and the key to the Kaaba after him. However, if this wish is not honored, the guardianship and the key will be handed over to his uncle Abdulwahab Al-Shaibi.
Nizar Al-Shaibi, the cousin of the deceased, told Arab News that it was a sad day for the family. However, the outpouring of love, solidarity, and support from all segments of society, who had rushed to offer their condolences, had helped to ease the burden of their grief.
They had expressed their gratitude for the life of the deceased, who had dedicated his life to the guardianship of the Kaaba and enhancing its reverence.
The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque mourned the death of Sheikh Dr. Saleh bin Zain Al-Abidin Al-Shaibi.
It said in a statement: “With hearts content with God’s decree, the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque and all its employees extend their deepest condolences to the family of the deceased, Sheikh Dr. Saleh bin Zain Al-Abidin Al-Shaibi, the senior caretaker of the Holy Kaaba.”
Khaled Al-Husseini, a writer and expert on Makkah’s affairs, expressed his deep sorrow over the death.
Al-Husseini described Al-Shaibi as a man of knowledge and learning, who, alongside his honored role in the guardianship of the Kaaba, was a scholar, academic, and lecturer at Umm Al-Qura University. He had generously shared his knowledge with successive generations which had benefited from his expertise over 20 years.


Al-Baha festival provides economic benefits to farmers

Updated 7 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.


Saudi Endowment Authority tops government employee engagement rankings

Updated 16 min 48 sec ago
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Saudi Endowment Authority tops government employee engagement rankings

  • Ceremony highlights positive competition

RIYADH: The Saudi General Authority for Awqaf has claimed top spot in the 2023 Government Sector Employee Engagement Awards.

The authority’s impressive 89.20 percent engagement rate was top of all government institutions, councils, and public bodies in the Kingdom, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.

In a ceremony which highlighted positive competition and human resource development in the endowment sector, Minister of Human Resources and Social Development Ahmad bin Sulaiman Al-Rajhi presented the award to Imad bin Saleh Al-Kharashi, governor of the General Authority for Awqaf.

The award aims to foster positive competition among government entities, while emphasizing the importance of organizational goals to employees, encouraging innovative solutions, developing staff skills, and improving productivity.

These factors contribute to enhancing and developing the work environment.

The award’s evaluation considered several key indicators: practical purpose with a positive sector impact; leadership alignment with the authority’s strategy and goals; innovation encouragement; effective team collaboration; continuous professional development contributing to the endowment sector’s growth; high performance directed toward impactful programs; and a stable work environment focused on quality and excellence.

The authority’s climb from second place in 2022 to first in 2023 reflected a notable increase in employee engagement, which rose from 86 percent to 89.20 percent.

This improvement was driven by various initiatives, including strengthening institutional culture; enhancing the work environment through events that promoted employee integration; fostering a culture of cooperation and transparency; recognition programs; stimulating creative ideas; and empowerment.

This recognition not only highlights the authority’s internal success but also reinforces its strategic direction in talent acquisition.

The General Authority for Awqaf is dedicated to enhancing, governing, and preserving the endowment sector.

It aims to develop and raise awareness through innovative endowment products and services, positioning the sector as a leader in sustainable development both locally and globally.

The authority focuses on implementing best practices and establishing regulations to advance and empower endowment work.


Saudi military industries authority to participate in Farnborough airshow

Updated 17 July 2024
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Saudi military industries authority to participate in Farnborough airshow

  • Participation in FIA aims to highlight the capabilities of the Saudi military and defense industries sector
  • GAMI welcomes investors from around the world who are interested in investing in the military industries sector

RIYADH: The General Authority for Military Industries (GAMI) will participate in the Farnborough International Airshow (FIA) 2024, one of the world’s largest and most influential defense and aerospace exhibitions.

The event will occur from July 22 to 26, 2024, in Hampshire, London, United Kingdom.

GAMI aims to showcase its efforts in developing the military industries sector in Saudi Arabia, with the goal of enhancing national military manufacturing capabilities and making the sector a significant contributor to the Saudi economy and its defense and security independence.

The participation in FIA aims to highlight the capabilities of the Saudi military and defense industries sector and the achievements made by GAMI in building industrial and service capabilities in the Kingdom, in line with its strategic role in localizing over 50 percent of government spending on military equipment and services by 2030.

GAMI welcomes investors from around the world who are interested in investing in the promising military industries sector in the Kingdom.

The authority will showcase the supply chains it has established for small and medium-sized local and foreign companies as part of its efforts to create numerous investment opportunities in the military industries sector, in addition to strengthening international partnerships to achieve strategic independence for the military industries.

This will enable the sector to develop military and security systems and industries.

This participation comes at a time of rapid development and localization in the military industries sector in the Kingdom, as well as an increase in investment opportunities and abundant local capabilities to meet the operational needs of military devices.

It is in line with the Kingdom’s focus on the sector by creating strategic partnerships and engaging with international investors interested in investing in Saudi Arabia.


AlUla forges ahead with prestigious accreditation award

Updated 17 July 2024
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AlUla forges ahead with prestigious accreditation award

  • Process required satisfying more than 100 performance standards
  • Phillip Jones: Completing the DMAP is a significant milestone for AlUla as we strive to develop a tourism industry and eco-system that is best-in-class and future-thinking

ALULA, Saudi Arabia: AlUla, with its seamless blend of ancient and modern, has been awarded a prestigious internationally recognized accreditation.

The oasis city has achieved a remarkable milestone by becoming the first destination in the Middle East to be accredited by Destinations International; the USA based global association for destination professionals, as officially announced today at the Destinations International Annual Convention in Florida.

The accreditation falls under the Destination Marketing Accreditation Programme (DMAP), an industry standard for quality and professionalism among destination organizations and comes a year after AlUla made history by becoming the first member of Destinations International from the Middle East.

Supported by a calendar of year-round events and authentic hospitality options, AlUla is as one of Saudi Arabia’s main tourism sites and has been operational and open to global tourists for four years. The latest accreditation is testament to AlUla’s vision and mission to spark a new wave of tourism excellence globally, centered around creating a sustainable, community-oriented experience economy.

Phillip Jones, chief tourism officer at the Royal Commission for AlUla, said: “Completing the Destination Marketing Accreditation Programme is a significant milestone for AlUla as we strive to develop a tourism industry and eco-system that is best-in-class and future-thinking. This recognition strengthens our commitment to ensuring the highest standards within our destination, and establishing trust among visitors, community, stakeholders and our partners. By being part of Destinations International, an incubator for best practices, we hope to share our unique methodology with the world and showcase just why AlUla is one of the most innovative and coveted luxury destination in the world right now.”

To receive DMAP accreditation, a destination organization must satisfy more than 100 performance standards in domains including governance, financial management, human resources, sales and marketing, stakeholder engagement and destination development. The standards are set by an independent panel of industry veterans representing a range of destination organizations. Standards are updated regularly to reflect the evolution of best practices in the industry.

For AlUla, this latest recognition adds to several recent accolades. In May, the 2024 World Travel Awards honored AlUla as Middle East’s Leading Festival & Event Destination, Saudi Arabia’s Leading Cultural Tourism Project and Middle East’s Leading Cultural Tourism Project. Also in May, RCU received a five-star rating for organizational excellence from the European Foundation for Quality Management and an award of excellence from the Middle East Facility Management Association.

With its bevy of regional and global accolades, AlUla continues to solidify its status as a leading luxury boutique heritage destination, where travelers can deeply connect with arts and culture, natural beauty, holistic wellness, and thrilling adventure.


RSG partners with Saudi Climbing and Hiking Federation to boost adventure tourism

Updated 17 July 2024
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RSG partners with Saudi Climbing and Hiking Federation to boost adventure tourism

  • Collaboration is set to revolutionize the tourism landscape by offering thrilling experiences while prioritizing safety and professionalism
  • Partnership will be spearheaded by Akun, RSG’s adventure sports brand, responsible for overseeing all hiking, climbing, and adventure experiences within RSG’s destinations

JEDDAH: Red Sea Global has recently announced a partnership with the Saudi Climbing and Hiking Federation aimed at enhancing adventure tourism activities across the Red Sea region.

According to the statement, this collaboration is set to revolutionize the tourism landscape by offering thrilling experiences while prioritizing safety and professionalism.

The partnership will be spearheaded by Akun, RSG’s adventure sports brand responsible for overseeing all hiking, climbing, and adventure experiences within RSG’s destinations, including The Red Sea and AMAALA.

Nicholas King, group chief development officer at Red Sea Global, emphasized the importance of combining adventure with luxury tourism, stating in a press release: “Our partnership with the Saudi Climbing and Hiking Federation is ensuring that Akun can offer invigorating experiences that complement the elegance of our resorts in a safe and professional manner. Together, we are propelling the adventure tourism industry across the Red Sea region.”

Through this collaboration, trainees from SCHF will have the opportunity to gain experience through internships with Akun, while also benefiting from training and support provided by qualified SCHF trainers.

Yasmin Gahtani, managing director at SCHF, highlighted the landscapes of Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coast and expressed the desire to showcase these stunning terrains through climbing and hiking experiences.

She said: “Saudi Arabia has some of the world’s most stunning landscapes, especially along the Red Sea coast. We want to help Saudis and the world discover this dramatic terrain by opening it to exhilarating, yet safe, climbing and hiking experiences. Through this partnership, we can make Saudi and the Red Sea a must-visit destination for the most avid climbers, hikers, and thrill-seekers.”

To promote the Red Sea region as a premier adventure destination, RSG and SCHF plan to host a series of local, regional, and international events, including climbing competitions, hiking events, and festivals.

According to the statement, the federation’s technical and safety assessments will help certify RSG’s developments as world-class adventure destinations.

Looking ahead, RSG and SCHF are exploring the creation of hiking and climbing content tailored to the Red Sea region. This resource will offer valuable information on trails, climbing sites, logistical details, and safety guidelines, positioning the Red Sea as a premier hub for outdoor enthusiasts worldwide.