Makkah from Space
by Russian astronaut Sergey Ryazanskiyvia @SergeyISS
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Makkah from Space
by Russian astronaut Sergey Ryazanskiyvia @SergeyISS
August 29, 2017
Makkah municipality is using environment-friendly solar garbage bins in Makkah and the Holy Sites during the entire Haj season.
The municipality, according to the director of the department of cleanliness Mohammed Bin Abdul Rahman Al-Morqi, has distributed as many as 1,150 such garbage bins in the Holy Sites including nine operated by solar energy, which were distributed mainly around the Jamrat area.
He said the capacity of each bin is about 14 cubic meters.
"The solar boxes will greatly develop the process of cleanliness and will help store the garbage in view of the limited space and time," he said.
Al-Morqi also said the boxes are using the most modern communication systems through satellites and can be operated from a distance.
Sunday September 24, 2017 / 4 Muharram 1439
JEDDAH — Following the successful completion of Haj, Umrah pilgrims have started arriving in the Kingdom, the Ministry of Haj and Umrah announced on Thursday.
The current Haj season will come to an end on Oct. 5 (Muharram 15) when the last flight carrying foreign Haj pilgrims will leave King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah.
The ministry has issued directives to all its agencies, sectors and Umrah establishments to raise their level of readiness to provide the best services to Umrah pilgrims and visitors.
The ministry announced its preparations for the upcoming Umrah season during a recent meeting between Minister of Haj Muhammad Saleh Banten and key players in the Umrah sector.
The meeting focused on the readiness of all sectors of the ministry for this season, especially with an unprecedented rise in the number of Umrah pilgrims last season, which was put at 6.7 million.
Despite the large number of Umrah pilgrims, there was a considerable drop in the number of Umrah visa overstayers, the ministry said.
Meanwhile, the number of Haj pilgrims who arrived in Madinah totaled 595,635, according to an update issued by the National Establishment for Guides in Madinah on Thursday.
It said 32,336 pilgrims arrived in Madinah on Wednesday while 21,691 left the holy city on the same day for their countries.
With this the number of foreign pilgrims who left Madinah after visiting the Prophet's Mosque after Haj totaled 333,137 as of Wednesday. The number of pilgrims who remained in Madinah until Wednesday evening, the last day of the month of Dul Hijjah, exceeded 262,422, compared to 157,176 pilgrims on the same day last season.
Director General of Saudi Arabian Airlines Saleh Bin Nasser Al-Jasser made an inspection tour of Prince Muhammad Bin Abdulaziz Airport in Madinah on Thursday to check on the smooth departure of pilgrim flights from the airport.
October 1, 2017
Manama: The Special Forces for the security of the Grand Mosque in Makkah have denied reports of an incident next to Kaaba, the sacred site towards which Muslims orient themselves during the five daily prayers.
A picture showing blood on the marble tiles near the Kaaba circulated on social media on Saturday. The social media post claimed that the photo was from an incident that occurred in front of Kaaba.
However, Sameh Al Selmi, the spokesperson for the Special Forces, said that the picture was not recent.
“It is an old picture and it was taken after an African pilgrim in his 50s was injured to his leg after he slipped as large crowds were circumambulating the Kaaba,” he said, as quoted by Saudi news site Sabq.
“The injured pilgrim was given first aid treatment on the spot before he was taken to the nearby Ajyah Hospital,” he said.
Social media users said they were shocked that some people “had time to invent stories and launch rumours that would not survive minutes since they would be denied by those with the correct information.”
“There is a strange world out there that is not obviously pleased with the serenity prevailing in Saudi Arabia,” Hassan Al Muhawesh posted. “They are so intent on causing uneasiness and trouble and do want to see other people live in peace.”
Tuesday October 3, 2017 / 13 Muharram 1439
RIYADH — Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund is establishing two new companies to increase the number of pilgrims that the Kingdom can host at Two Holy Mosques.
The Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund said the companies — Rou’a Al-Haram and Rou’a Al-Madinah — will develop residential and commercial areas around the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah.
The fund said on Monday that the new companies will help the Kingdom accommodate more than 30 million people expected to visit Makkah every year and 23 million visitors a year to Madina by 2030.
The companies will develop 150,000 hotel rooms in both cities near the holy sites.
In Makkah, the first phase of the company’s projects will cover an area of 854,000 square meters, delivering 115 buildings of various architectural designs. It will have 70,000 new hotel rooms, accommodating 310,000 visitors per day, as well as develop around 9,000 residential units, 360,000 square meters of commercial space and prayer areas designated for more than 400,000 worshipers.
The Rou’a Al-Madinah project will develop an area of 1.3 million square meters, adding 80,000 new hotel rooms with 500 residential units and prayer areas to accommodate 200,000 worshippers per day.
The company’s activities will include the development of hotel, commercial and residential projects, as well as the development of cultural centers and museums to enrich Madinah’s religious, cultural and historical offerings.
The company will broaden opportunities for investment and private sector participation through the development of strategic partnerships.
The project will also take into consideration the sacred nature of the Prophet’s Mosque, and create a comprehensive system for pedestrian passages separated from the movement of vehicles.
The projects will create around 200,000 job opportunities, with an estimated annual contribution to GDP of SR7 billion.
Initial preparation work is currently underway, with construction due to start in 2018. The first phase of the project is anticipated to be launched in 2023.
The Rou’a Al-Haram project construction will start in 2018 and by 2024 the project will be operational.
It will create 160,000 job opportunities and contribute SR8 billion annually to the Kingdom’s GDP by 2030.
Both projects will raise the level of development in the areas surrounding the Two Holy Mosques, create around 360,000 job opportunities, and contribute SR15 billion to the gross domestic product (GDP), as part of a wider plan to diversify the national economy of Saudi Arabia.
October 04, 2017
ISLAMABAD: Embassy of Kingdom, Saudi Arabia held a spectacular exhibition of Door of Khanna Kaaba and Ghilaaf-e-Kaaba here on Wednesday at a Business mall.(Centaurus Mall)
The Saudi King has given special permission for sending the recently changed Door and Ghilaaf-e-Kaaba to Pakistan.
Before opening it to the general public, the exhibition was formally inaugurated by Secretary-General Motamar Al-Alam Al-Aslami senator Raja Zafarul Haq and acting ambassador of the Saudi Arabia Habibullah Al-Bukhari.
The acting ambassador also handed over a key of Khana Kabba to the Raja Zafarul Haq as a mark of respect and love towards the people of Pakistan.
Raja Zafarul Haq in his brief remarks on the occasion thanked the Saudi King for his goodwill gesture to the people of Pakistan.
This is a great honour and blessings for them to have their glimpses. He hoped that such exhibitions will promote friendly ties between the two countries at the people-to-people level.
The acting ambassador said, that the landmark exhibition at the Centaurus Mall will provide the visitors an opportunity to witness sacred Door and Ghilaaf-e-Kaaba.
The display features ‘Ghilaf-e-Kaaba’ and more than twenty oldest Qura’anic manuscripts every produced from various countries including Turkey, Afghanistan, China, Kashmir, and Iran.
Celebrated for their superb calligraphy and lavish golden illumination, these manuscripts span almost 700 years of history -- from 14th century Quran Written in ‘Khat e Bihar’, Persian ‘Dalail-al-Khayrat’ in 17th century, ‘Safvi’ Quran in 16th century, Quran written in Gold by Mughals in 17th century, verses in Chinese with stamp to 18th century Quran written in Kashmiri and many other oldest scripts.
This exhibition to be continue for 25 days will show the visitors stories of these extraordinary scripts and their makers. Visitors will come to know how the Qur’an was actually transformed from an orally transmitted message to the illuminated written form.
October 8, 2017
MAKKAH – A number of educationists, psychologists and sociologists have emphasized the need to establish nurseries in Makkah and the holy sites of Mina and Arafat to look after small children while their parents perform rituals of the pilgrimage.
They said charitable societies, which distribute water, juices and meals among pilgrims, can extend this service free of charge or for a nominal fee. This will help pilgrims accompanied by children perform their rituals easily while their children can be saved from possible hazards.
"It will also create new job opportunities for Saudi women,” Ghazil Al-Otaibi, a sociologist, told Al-Madina Arabic daily recently. She advised pilgrims not to bring their children while coming to perform Haj as it would cause untold problems for them as well as their children.
Al-Otaibi backed the idea of setting up nurseries in the holy sites to take care of children accompanying pilgrims.
Soun Saad Al-Asmari, a trainer, was all praise for Saudi Haj managers for organizing a hassle-free Haj this year. She said the presence of more than 2.3 million pilgrims paused a big security challenge.
“I have seen some pilgrims carrying small children on their shoulders while going to the Jamarat, where a large number of pilgrims assemble to stone the pillars symbolizing devil. By doing so these parents risk not only their lives but also that of their children,” she pointed out.
Dr. Sahar Subhani emphasized the need to provide special care to breastfeeding women pilgrims who carry their babies with them. “Establishment of nurseries in the holy sites will help these women to a great extent,” she said while underlining the significance of this humanitarian project.
“Nurseries will help women pilgrims perform their rituals easily with peace of mind and devote their time and attention to prayers and meditation,” Subhani said, adding that such nurseries should meet all hygiene and safety standards.
Educationist Abeer Fakira urged charitable societies to take up this important humanitarian project, which will contribute to further improving Haj services. “Charities can establish nurseries with the support of Tawafa organizations,” Fakira said, adding that such nurseries should be run by experts.
Dr. Ali Al-Suwaiheri, a psychology professor, said a lack of nurseries forced many Saudis and expatriates to carry their small children with them while performing the rituals of pilgrimage.
Saad Jameel Al-Qurashi, former chairman of the National Haj and Umrah Committee, said domestic Haj service companies can provide nursery services to pilgrims, following high standards, if the authorities give them permission, allocate plots and extend necessary support.
The Ministry of Education, with the support of the Coordination Council for Domestic Pilgrims, set up a number of temporary nurseries this year on an experimental basis. The project received special care and attention from Education Minister Ahmed Al-Issa.
Mohammed Bin Mahdi Al-Harthi, director general of education in the Makkah region, said it was the duty of the community to take care of pilgrims' children.
“We should arrange an educational program for such children,” Al-Harthi said.
This project will help pilgrims accompanied by children to perform their rituals with ease and comfort. “We should establish specialized child care centers with qualified staff,” he added.
Tuesday 10 October 2017
MUMBAI: Indian women over the age of 45 and traveling in groups of four will be able to go for the Islamic Hajj pilgrimage without a male guardian next year, if the government adopts proposed reforms.
Women meeting these criteria will no longer have to be accompanied by a mahram, or close male relative, such as a father, husband, brother or son, a government-appointment panel recommended in the country’s first Hajj policy review.
“The mahram rule was there from the very beginning for women — in case they face any difficulty while traveling, it can be taken care of,” said Maqsood Ahmed Khan of the Hajj Committee of India, a government body which organizes the pilgrimages.
“This (dropping of male kin) is an important recommendation, the chief executive told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Nearly half of an estimated 170,000 pilgrims who went for the annual religious celebration in Saudi Arabia from India this year were women, officials said.
The panel of bureaucrats and intellectuals was appointed by the ministry of minority affairs to review India’s Hajj policy for the first time.
Officials from the ministry, which will decide whether to adopt the recommendations, were not available for comment.
The policy would cover the next five years from 2018 and is in line with Saudi Arabia’s Hajj requirements.
Women’s rights campaigners welcomed the proposal but said it did not go far enough.
“Muslim women are traveling across the world independently,” said Noorjehan Safia Niaz, founder of Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, which campaigns for Muslim women’s rights and won a ban on an instant divorce law in August..
“While this is a good decision, the restrictions on age and group size should go.”
If the new rule is implemented, solo women will no longer have to pay private tour operators to provide them with a mahram for a fee of 10,000 Indian rupees ($153.29), campaigners said.
12 October 2017
Hajj and Umrah travel agents have been informed of a new Umrah visa fee by their respective Saudi Arabian embassies.
The new policy, thought to be effective immediately, puts an additional 2,000SAR charge (approximately £400) charge on visas for Umrah for those who travelled for Umrah in the last Hijri year (1438).
Although travel agencies have been informed by their local embassies, the Ministry of Haj and Umra is yet to make an official announcement. Prospective pilgrims around the world should contact their local embassies to find out if the fee applies to them.
The policy is apparently the latest in a string of controversial new measures introduced recently as part of Mohammad bin Salman’s ambitious vision 2030 reform plan, devised to reset the kingdom’s Economic dependence away from oil generated revenue.
Recent examples include the hugely unpopular and unaffordable Dependent Fee to be paid for each non-Saudi, non-government employee, a 5% VAT tax to be introduced in coming months and the second recent increase in fuel prices, to name a few.
Other recent policies have also been thought to be based on economic incentives, such as a slew of new fines for particular traffic offences, and the recent lift on the driving ban for some women.
10 Oct 2017
Please note that last night 11/10/17 Saudi changed their visa fees for those who have been for Umrah already in the previous Hijri 1438 year.
If you have been for Umrah between October 2016 to July 2017 you will now have to pay 2,000SAR per person extra.
October 16, 2017
KARACHI: The Saudi government, in a bid to increase its income, has started implementing various steps, including a fee of SAR2,000 being imposed on a second Umrah performed in a year.
All hotels and related buildings will also be taxed and plans are under way to open various ziaraat.
A similar fee had been imposed earlier on Hajj and Umrah performed within a specific time frame, but was given up for the time being. The Saudi government has been imposing new rules every year to increase its revenue, while adding to the expenses incurred by the pilgrims.
Approximately 15 million Muslims perform Umrah, while as many as 2.35 million perform Hajj, every year. The number of pilgrims from Pakistan is also increasing and this year 1.5 million people went to perform Umrah.
According to the Saudi government’s Vision 2020 national transformation programme, a 13 per cent increase will be seen in the number of pilgrims after the Haram is expanded, while the number of those performing Umrah will increase by 30 per cent.
This cannot be undone and I am sure it will be greatly appreciated.