136,020 Indian pilgrims to arrive for Haj

Updated 10 July 2015
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136,020 Indian pilgrims to arrive for Haj

JEDDAH: A total of 136,020 pilgrims from India will be arriving in the Kingdom to perform Haj this year, with the first flight landing in Madinah from Delhi on Aug. 16.
According to Consul General B.S. Mubarak, the first flight will depart from Jeddah on Sept. 28 for Mangalore.
The Haj Committee has got the lion’s share of the quota of 100,020 pilgrims, the remaining 36,000 have gone to private tour operators, he said.
Saudi Arabian Airlines will carry 51,120 pilgrims, Air India 37,940 and NAS Air 11,030.
The highest number of Indian pilgrims will be from Uttar Pradesh (23,091), followed by West Bengal (10,248), Bihar (7,716), Maharashtra (7,712) and Jammu and Kashmir (6,597).
Accommodation will be provided by eight reputable housing groups to Hajis in Madinah; 70 percent of pilgrims will be accommodated in Markazia and the rest (30 percent) outside Markazia.
Catering services for 60,000 Hajis will be provided by Saudi Arabian Airlines Catering Co. and Makarem Bakkah Co. while another 40,000 will be provided by Mukhtara Co. and Bathawi Catering Co. Breakfast will be provided by the concerned housing groups.
An emergency contact button has been provided in the home page of the app whereby a Haji can contact the Indian Haj Pilgrims’ Office through its toll-free telephone No. 8002477786. The details of the concerned Khadimul Hujjaj as well as co-pilgrims of the concerned Haji have also been made available in the app. The WhatsApp number is 00966-543891481, toll free telephone No. 8002477786 (within the Kingdom, for pilgrims only).
The 24x7 helpline phone numbers are 00966-12-5458000 and 00966-12-5496000.


From sand dunes to melting glaciers, Saudi Arabia’s Princess Abeer shares lessons from her Antarctic expedition

Updated 24 min 21 sec ago
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From sand dunes to melting glaciers, Saudi Arabia’s Princess Abeer shares lessons from her Antarctic expedition

  • The princess joined an expedition in November to the remotest parts of Antarctica led by Australian NGO Homeward Bound
  • She joined the expedition to raise awareness about climate action, sustainability, and the need for ‘a peace pact with nature’

RIYADH: Princess Abeer bint Saud bin Farhan Al-Saud recently became the first person from Saudi Arabia and the wider Gulf region to go on a research expedition to the remotest parts of the Antarctic continent.

In November, the princess was among 80 people selected from a pool of 1,800 applicants from 45 nations who joined the expedition led by Homeward Bound, an Australian organization that promotes women’s leadership in STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine).

Princess Abeer told Arab News: “The whole purpose of me joining this expedition was to raise awareness about climate action, environmental sustainability, and making a peace pact with nature and biodiversity.”

The women on The Island Sky 2023, from 18 countries, set sail on Nov. 12, 2023, from Puerto Madryn, Argentina, for a 19-night voyage. (Photo courtesy of Homeward Bound)

Also on the expedition were astronomers, oceanographers, glaciologists, mathematicians, marine biologists, and renewable energy engineers, who collaborated on various projects some of which were part of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28), held in Dubai in November and December.

The princess said: “As a group, a few of us collaborated on multiple projects combining science, art, and policy and advocating at the UN by drafting reports and preparing our talks and findings for our participation at COP28.”

FASTFACT

• In November, Princess Abeer joined an expedition to the remotest parts of Antarctica, led by Homeward Bound, an Australian organization that holds leadership programs for women in STEMM, becoming the first person from the Gulf region to do so.

Princess Abeer is an international development professional with culture and heritage, peacebuilding, multilateralism, and NGO expertise, who has worked for several UN agencies.

She currently chairs the Sustainable Development Association (Talga) which aims to localize the UN Sustainable Development Goals in alignment with Vision 2030.

Princess Abeer has worked for several UN agencies and currently chairs the Sustainable Development Association, also called Talga. (Supplied)

The princess noted that she was passionate about dedicating her life to projects that helped preserve endangered species, land, and the planet.

She is also an artist, inspired by her surroundings and what she described as her “cosmic desert” adventures in Saudi Arabia, where she produces works on canvas utilizing natural materials.

Before setting off for Antarctica, Princess Abeer pointed out that she would channel her ancestral heritage.

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“I will draw on my roots as a woman from the desert and as a sailor, looking to the heavens to guide me.

“The Southern Cross has led me to many answers and many more questions, just like the North Star has led wanderers through the desert for countless generations,” she added.

The Bedouin who traversed Arabia’s vast deserts over the millennia relied on the stars.

November’s expedition was not all plain sailing. An unexpected storm struck the team’s ship as it navigated the Drake Passage, one of the world’s choppiest sea routes located between South America’s Cape Horn and the South Shetland Islands of Antarctica.

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The princess said: “We had a very challenging 48 hours on the Drake Passage. My expedition mates lay on their bunks. Others used dark humor to console their anxiety by playing the ‘Titanic’ soundtrack on the old piano on board in the open area lounge.

“A few others were brave and calm, enjoying their time knowing that the storm would pass.”

While the experience was no doubt frightening, she added that she felt humbled, both by the power of nature and the skill of the ship’s crew who brought them safely through the towering waves to calmer seas.

“Witnessing and experiencing the majesty of nature’s fury is the art of humble exploration. I think it requires so much mental agility, gentle wisdom, and humor to overcome any storm, rogue waves, or any hardship in your life,” she added.

When the team arrived in Antarctica, Princess Abeer noted that it felt like she had been transported to another world, similar to “Alice in Wonderland.”

She said: “It felt like being in an immersive and multi-sensory natural museum of raw and untouched beauty. You can hear the sound of silence. Antarctica is the icebergs and glaciers gazing at you.”

Although the expedition took place during the Southern Hemisphere’s summer season, it was vital that participants wore the appropriate gear to withstand the cold, plus polarized sunglasses to protect their eyes from the sun’s harsh ultraviolet rays.

But to work in such inhospitable conditions, the princess pointed out that participants required inner strength.

“In isolated polar regions, just like hibernating animals live off their fat, as polar explorers we sought to ignite our spirits — with sea crafts like bunting,” she added.

Princess Abeer and the rest of the team slept aboard their ship, anchored off the Antarctic coast, but each day used Zodiacs — heavy-duty inflatable boats — to commute to their research stations and to conduct field research.

While studying the impact of climate change on the Antarctic’s weather, wildlife, and geography, the princess was shocked to see the massive icebergs breaking into the ocean and the record number of invasive species drawn to the continent by its warming climate.

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In particular, she was stunned to see rainfall in a part of the world where water in the atmosphere should be falling as snow.

She said: “It was raining occasionally instead of snowing. That is defying nature by all measures. It can’t and shouldn’t be raining in Antarctica at all.”

Out on the Antarctic ice, Princess Abeer was a long way from the vast sandy deserts of the Arabian Peninsula. However, she found some unexpected similarities in the contrasting environments.

“When you’re in a desert of ice, as opposed to a desert of sand, you’re living with people who are on the very edge of human tolerance. I think the upshot of that is the incredible hospitality you get,” she added.

It highlighted to her how the world’s most distinct ecosystems — from polar regions and subtropical rainforests to vast interior deserts and coastal habitats — were interconnected by the global climate system.

Princess Abeer said: “Safeguarding the cryosphere is not a matter for polar regions alone but all countries alike. Glaciers and icebergs melting at faster rates will cause rising sea levels, affecting all coastlines in the world.

“The polar and MENA (Middle East and North Africa) regions — in fact the entire globe — are linked. If we want to save one, then we have to save the other.

“The importance lies in understanding these reciprocal relationships for effective climate management, ensuring global climate stability, and safeguarding ecosystems in both polar and desert regions alike, and henceforth contributing to safeguarding the global climate system,” she added.

Another major concern for polar researchers was the impact of a warming climate on seabird habitats. The breakup of sea ice has disrupted colonies, while the arrival of invasive species from further north has brought with it the spread of avian flu.

“Antarctica is like a haven paradise of wildlife. On a daily basis we had awe-inducing surprise encounters with humpback whales flashing their flukes against the water.

“There were also colonies of Weddell seals that I think can only be found in ice-free islands in Antarctica,” the princess said.

Antarctica is home to one especially iconic species — penguins. Of the world’s 18 different penguin species, seven of them are only found on the southernmost continent.

“We were so lucky to have seen them all in their natural habitat during our last expedition.

“The species found in Antarctica and the Subantarctic region are the emperor penguin, Adelie, chinstrap, gentoo, macaroni, rockhopper, and king penguin,” she added.

For Princess Abeer, the biggest takeaway from her time in Antarctica was the need for the world and individuals to take a cross-sectoral approach in their efforts to halt climate change and prevent global temperatures from rising any further. Failure to do so, she highlighted, would lead to further ice melt and a rise in global sea levels.

“I believe that it’s time to make a peace pact with nature. We must not let our faith for a regenerative future for this planet melt away. What happens in Antarctica doesn’t stay in Antarctica,” she said.

 


Jewellery Salon sees international labels descend on Riyadh

Updated 23 February 2024
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Jewellery Salon sees international labels descend on Riyadh

  • The Asprey bags redesigned by Princess Nourah pay homage to Kingdom’s five regions with distinct motifs, colors

RIYADH: Riyadh’s Jewellery Salon, which wraps up on Friday, brought together international and local jewelry houses to meet Saudi clientele before the fair heads to Jeddah from Feb. 27 to March 1.

One of those firms was British luxury label Asprey, which collaborated with Saudi brand Nuun Jewel’s founder Princess Noura Al-Faisal to produce a capsule collection that features five clutches, each of which represents a distinct region of Saudi Arabia.

The Pochette 1781, as interpreted by Princess Nourah in five styles is part of a capsule collection that is on showcase at Jewellery Salon this year. (Supplied)

“Asprey are very well known for their jewelry but also for their bags. They are known for the Asprey Pochette 1781 iconic clutch, and I was trying to spread my wings as a designer and thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be wonderful to portray Saudi heritage in a way that’s not really thought of?’” Princess Noura told Arab News.  

The designer thought it would “be wonderful to be able to use traditional patterns from different areas (and) put them within the bag design so you have the leather on the outside and then the precious hand embroidery on the inside and that felt very Saudi as well somehow. The colors and the patterns — each one is truly representing that region,” Princess Noura added.

I was trying to spread my wings as a designer and thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be wonderful to portray Saudi heritage in a way that’s not really thought of?’

Princess Nourah Al-Faisal, Nuun Jewels founder

Powered by the desire to transform the jewelry scene in Saudi Arabia, Haya Al-Sunaida launched the Jewellery Salon in 2009 to invite international designers to an industry that was previously dominated by a few elites. Her aim was to curate an exhibition that could unite local and international jewelers in a single platform and serve exclusive clientele in the country.

While perusing exquisite jewels at the exhibition, which took place at the Al-Faisaliah Hotel, guests were drawn to a rainforest green pop-up that featured the distinctive designs of London’s Glenn Spiro jewelry house.

A selection of pieces from Bahraini jewelry house Devji Aurum featuring both Indian and Arabian jewelry styles was also on display.

“We are a family-run business that purchases rare gems. We’re not aiming to sell the pieces or grow it into a massive business; we are actual jewelers, dealers. Every year, we produce a specific number of pieces. We purchase materials, stones, and gems that we adore. In addition, we don’t promote anywhere while having a great client of private customers,” founder Spiro told Arab News.  

A selection of pieces from Bahraini jewelry house Devji Aurum, which is well-known in Bahrain and Dubai and boasts both Indian and Arabian jewelry styles, was also on display.

The greatest pieces from the Bahraini jewelry house Devji Aurum, which is well-known in Bahrain and Dubai and has an Indian and Arabian jewelry style, are also on display. (AN photo by Rahaf Jambi)

The fourth-generation owner of the brand Dev Devji attended personally to meet visitors.

“We are born and raised in Bahrain. So, we have been coming to the Saudi market for quite some time now. We have a huge clientele from Saudi Arabia that visits our boutiques in Bahrain and Dubai, so we’re quite excited to be part of the exhibition this year,” Devji said.  

Saudi jewelry label Sulaiman Al-Mudhiyan, known for their diamonds, brought glittering pieces to the Jewellery Salon exhibition and even offered competitive prices at the event.

“We are returning to this exhibition. We have a large selection of rings, earrings, and other items, and we are offering our guests incredible prices,” Nasser Ahmed, a sales executive at Sulaiman Al-Mudhiyan, said.

 


Residents unite to celebrate Saudi Founding Day in Jeddah

Updated 23 February 2024
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Residents unite to celebrate Saudi Founding Day in Jeddah

  • In Al-Balad the cultural extravaganza features nine activity zones with a Founding Day theme

JEDDAH: Citizens and residents have come together to celebrate Saudi Founding Day with a plethora of exciting events and activities in Jeddah. The festivities are taking place over a long weekend, allowing everyone to fully immerse themselves in honoring Saudi Arabia’s rich history.

One of the main highlights is being held in Al-Balad — nine activities with a Founding Day theme. Visitors are taken on a journey through Saudi Arabia’s history, and given the opportunity to indulge in street food, participate in various activities, and spend quality time with their family and friends.

The festivities are taking place over a long weekend with a plethora of exciting events and activities. (AN photos by Maher Alzahrani)

Guests are welcome to begin their visit at Bab Jadid, where they can savor Saudi coffee, explore the crafts area, and engage in folk games. Moving on to Thaker Courtyard, visitors can experience a live cooking corner, while Al-Hazzazi Courtyard showcases the mesmerizing traditional dance called Ardah and other folk arts.

For those with children, Al-Eidrous Courtyard features a dedicated children’s corner, a theater area, and art workshops. Meanwhile, Zawiya 97 is brimming with artistic performances, providing a vibrant and immersive experience for all attendees.

HIGHLIGHT

One of the main highlights is being held in Al-Balad — nine activities with a Founding Day theme. Visitors are taken on a journey through Saudi Arabia’s history, and given the opportunity to indulge in street food, participate in various activities, and spend quality time with their family and friends.

Sari Salem Hariri, co-founder and general manager of Al-Mugasap, a Saudi traditional fashion clothing brand, shared his passion for showcasing Saudi traditional attire: “We have meticulously crafted all our Saudi traditional founding designs in alignment with the guidelines of the founding day, catering to both men and women. Each piece embodies the spirit of celebration.”

He further expressed his enthusiasm for promoting awareness of Saudi traditional attire, and said: “I am thrilled to be part of this event and to contribute to the preservation of our deep-rooted customs and traditions. Our booth offers visitors the opportunity to try on these outfits and create lasting memories of our cultural heritage.”

The festivities are taking place over a long weekend with a plethora of exciting events and activities. (AN photos by Maher Alzahrani)

Their stall is not limited to Al-Balad; it can also be found in Thuwwal and at various locations such as the Saudi German Hospital and Red Sea Mall.

Dalia Al-Sahref Al-Abdali, an advisor at the Jeddah Historic District, also played a part in the celebration with a stall showcasing traditional outfits for visitors to wear and have a photo session.

“This is the time when we can proudly participate and celebrate our culture and show the real Saudi culture,” she said.

The festivities are taking place over a long weekend with a plethora of exciting events and activities. (AN photos by Maher Alzahrani)

Hend Al-Gheethi, the owner of a perfume brand bearing her name, crafted exclusive perfumes specifically for the foundation day, capturing the essence of traditional Saudi scents.

She said: “I am proud to have created perfumes that embody the rich and authentic aromas of Saudi tradition, specially designed to commemorate this special occasion.”

The lively streets of Al-Balad are filled with men singing and dancing to traditional songs. Skilled artists can be observed playing ouds, reviving the community’s musical heritage.

The festivities are taking place over a long weekend with a plethora of exciting events and activities. (AN photos by Maher Alzahrani)

Huda Labib, founder of Mansaj Studio located at Zawiya 97, conducts workshops on textiles knitting and weaving. She actively took part in the celebrations, guiding both children and adults in creating special designs through knitting and weaving to celebrate the occasion.

“It is a privilege to empower individuals of all ages to engage in the art of textiles knitting and weaving, fostering creativity and celebrating our heritage on this significant founding day,” she said.

In addition to the festivities in Al-Balad, another experience awaits visitors at the Founding Village, located in Al-Baghdadiyah Al-Gharbiyah district. This event offers guests the opportunity to journey back 300 years into the rich cultural heritage.

The festivities are taking place over a long weekend with a plethora of exciting events and activities. (AN photos by Maher Alzahrani)

Through engaging storytelling, creative showcases of traditional crafts and interactive experiences at the Culture Square, guests can immerse themselves in the spirit of Saudi Founding Day. This inclusive and interactive event is tailored for all age groups, especially with amazing entertainment activities organized for children.

The festivities will continue until Feb. 24, and admission is free for all attendees.

 


Saudi Arabia’s citron season returns with its own culinary heritage

Citron is a versatile fruit that has found its way into many Saudi traditional dishes, juices, and drinks. (SPA)
Updated 23 February 2024
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Saudi Arabia’s citron season returns with its own culinary heritage

  • Mubarak Al-Khanajer, a farmer in Wadi Al-Dawasir, told Arab News: “The citron fruit belongs to the citrus family, and it is usually harvested in January and February, making it a winter fruit that the locals are accustomed to in this season”

JEDDAH: In winter, citron, known as etrinj, returns to Saudi homes from the Kingdom’s farms, bringing with it myriad health benefits and a distinct flavor that in some regions has crafted a culinary tradition of its own.

The fruit is farmed in Jouf in the north, Wadi Al-Dawasir in Najr, and Al-Ahsa in the Eastern Province.

Part of the larger citrus family, citron particularly thrives in Jouf due to its favorable climate, water availability, and fertile land, making it one of the region’s most prevalent trees alongside olives and palms. Citron also stands out as a key agricultural crop in Al-Ahsa farms.

Citron is a versatile fruit that has found its way into many Saudi traditional dishes, juices, and drinks. (SPA)

Mubarak Al-Khanajer, a farmer in Wadi Al-Dawasir, told Arab News: “The citron fruit belongs to the citrus family, and it is usually harvested in January and February, making it a winter fruit that the locals are accustomed to in this season.”

HIGHLIGHTS

• Citron is farmed in Jouf in the north, Wadi Al-Dawasir in Najr, and Al-Ahsa in the Eastern Province.

• Farmers sell it with prices ranging from SR15 ($4) to SR20 for a basket of 10 to 12 fruits.

• In Jouf, locals enjoy citron tea during winter, prepared by peeling, extracting pulp, and infusing it in hot water with sugar, saffron, or without additives.

He noted that the success of citron farming in the region was due to climatic factors including temperature, relative humidity, light, and wind, adding that temperature was one of the most important factors determining the success of citron farming, in addition to the type of land, whether loamy yellow or heavy clay free from harmful salts.

Agricultural technician Abdulrahman Al-Sweis told Arab News that it was important for the crop to receive good agricultural care and be in a sunny area well-protected from the wind and planted in a spacious field.

Citron is a versatile fruit that has found its way into many Saudi traditional dishes, juices, and drinks. (SPA)

He pointed out that the citron fruit was popular for its qualities and was part of the Saudi cultural heritage, adding that there was more awareness about it now through social media.

He said: “Many have started using it as a treatment to face winter diseases due to its richness in vitamins that increase the body’s immunity.”

Gifting the fruit to relatives, friends, and neighbors during harvesting season has been a cultural tradition in the Kingdom. However, the practice has diminished as some opt to sell their harvest, driven by its increasing popularity owing to its significant health benefits.

Citron is a versatile fruit that has found its way into many Saudi traditional dishes, juices, and drinks. (SPA)

Coming in yellow, green, and occasionally orange hues, citron’s larger size, mild acidity, and delicious taste make it akin to a lemon. Packed with antioxidants, vitamins, fibers, calcium, zinc, selenium, manganese, and potassium, it boasts numerous nutritional and health benefits.

The versatile fruit has found its way into many Saudi traditional dishes, juices, and drinks. In Jouf and Al-Ahsa, residents relish preparing marisah, a mix of citron squares with chili, turmeric, mint, and optional additions of salt, dates, or sugar. Some enjoy it sliced or as a jam.

Mohammed Al-Masn, a farmer, said that some locals eat it or make a juice or jam from it. On the diversity of dishes that incorporate the fruit, he added: “The residents of the province do not make citron marisah as in some areas in the north of the Kingdom … they make Al-Wadma which is unique to Al-Ahsa.”

Citron is a versatile fruit that has found its way into many Saudi traditional dishes, juices, and drinks. (SPA)

Al-Wadma is a traditional Hassawi dish, made of dried small fish and citron juice, accompanied by radish, green onions, and lettuce. The fish is either ground or crushed before being combined with citron juice and pieces of citron. After letting it sit for some time, it is eaten with radish leaves.

In Jouf, locals enjoy citron tea during winter, prepared by peeling, extracting pulp, and infusing it in hot water with sugar, saffron, or without additives. Citron juices, featuring various flavors such as turmeric, ginger, and mint, are also popular.

While citron was traditionally not commercialized, recent years have seen some farmers sell it, with prices ranging from SR15 ($4) to SR20 for a basket of 10 to 12 fruits.

Al-Masn pointed out that the citron plant was also suitable for indoor cultivation.

He said: “Ensure the pot is positioned near a window receiving ample sunlight to maintain a temperature above 18 degrees Celsius. When spring concludes, the pot can be moved outdoors permanently and then returned indoors during autumn. This plant can also be seamlessly integrated into home garden settings.”

 


MWL chief receives US delegation in Riyadh

Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa meets with delegation from the US Congress in Riyadh. (Supplied)
Updated 24 February 2024
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MWL chief receives US delegation in Riyadh

  • The US delegation commended the MWL’s initiative at the UN headquarters in New York City to build bridges between the East and the West, and create a more understanding and peaceful world

RIYADH: Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, secretary general of the Muslim World League and chairman of the Muslim Scholars Association, received a delegation from the US Congress, headed by Congressman Andre Carson, at the MWL sub-headquarters in Riyadh.

The two sides discussed several topics related to enhancing friendship and cooperation between nations and peoples to combat extremism and overcome cultural differences.

The US delegation commended the MWL’s initiative at the UN headquarters in New York City to build bridges between the East and the West, and create a more understanding and peaceful world. The league’s position regarding the Gaza war was also highlighted, with Al-Issa condemning the killing of women and children in blatant violation of international humanitarian law.

Al-Issa also received Dr. Gohar Ejaz, Pakistani minister of commerce, industries and production and interior minister, accompanied by Aftab Akbar Durrani, Pakistan’s interior secretary, at the league’s sub-headquarters in Riyadh.

The two sides discussed several topics of common interest on the Islamic and international levels, as well as prospects for cooperation.

Ejaz praised the MWL’s pivotal role in conveying the true message of Islam to the world and fulfilling its duty to represent Muslim nations in international forums.

Al-Issa stressed the historic and long-standing relations between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, as well as the ties between Pakistan and MWL, affirming Pakistan’s significant position regarding Islamic principles. He expressed his gratitude to the efforts of its scholars in the MWL journey, which is considered one of Saudi Arabia's good deeds that it established and gifted to the Islamic world. The great inspiration of Saudi Vision 2030 and its achievements in the Kingdom’s comprehensive transformation, especially its leading role in the world, was also commended.