Monday, 20 August 2018

Zamzam water freely available in Makkah

Source: KSA Centre for Government Communications. Zamzam water for pilgrims in Makkah.
Source: KSA Centre for Government Communications. Zamzam water for pilgrims in Makkah.

To meet the ever-increasing demands for Zamzam water, the Saudi Geological Survey has set up a Zamzam Studies and Research Centre (ZSRC), which is charged with keeping Zamzam water both clean and plentiful.

Electric pumps draw water from the well, which is located within the Al-Haram Mosque. The water is filtered through a series of sand filters and cartridge filters, and then sterilized by ultraviolet (UV) irradiation at these treatment plants before distribution to consumers.

Today, water of Zamzam is available to the public through coolers stationed throughout the Al-Haram Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah. A bottling plant and public distribution centre have been established just outside the Al-Haram mosque for visitors who want to carry Zamzam water home. Some pilgrims dip their pilgrimage clothes, ihram, in the water. The ihram is then preserved as burial clothes when the pilgrim dies.

The General Affairs of the Holy Mosque has set up 25,000 dispensers for Zamzam water around Makkah. These are refilled within the hour to refresh pilgrims.

Source: General Authority for Statistics, KSA, via the KSA Centre for Government Communications. A dispenser of Zamzam water.
Source: General Authority for Statistics, KSA, via the KSA Centre for Government Communications. A dispenser of Zamzam water.

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Advisory on differences in Dhulhijjah dates in different countries

The Office of the Mufti in Singapore has issued an advisory on how Eid al-Adha and the Day of Arafat are determined in response to discussion regarding whether they should be the same as in KSA.

Traditionally, the Day of Arafat is 9 Dhulhijjah, the day Hajj pilgrims go to Mount Arafat, and marks a traditional day of fasting for Muslims elsewhere. It is also the eve of Eid al-Adha. However, because the beginning of any Islamic month depends on the sighting of the new moon, 9 Dhulhijjah can occur on different days in different countries. In KSA, 9 Dhulhijjah is 20 August; in Singapore it is 21 August. Eid therefore falls on 21 August in KSA but on 22 August in Singapore.

"In this instance, it is important to note that determining the dates of the months of hijri (editor's note: the Islamic calendar) is a religious issue. Determining it would have to be in accordance with the sighting of the new moon at the horizon, on the 29th day of the preceding month.

"If the new moon is not sighted on the night of the 29th day, the preceding month will then be extended for one more day; making it 30 days in total. The following day (after the 30th day) will then be considered to be the beginning of a new month, and this is based on the religious guidance found in the hadiths and practices of the Muslim ummah (editor's note: hadiths refer to sayings and actions of the Prophet Muhammad, passed down over time; and the ummah is the population of all Muslims)", the Office of the Mufti said in a statement.

The Office of the Mufti further explains that KSA is located to the west of Singapore, and there is a significant timing difference between the two. "Due to these reasons, the position of the new moon when it was sighted in Saudi Arabia is higher than when it was sighted in this region. Hence, it becomes an individual responsibility for Muslims to follow the date that has been determined by their respective countries," the organisation added.

"If the first of Dhulhijjah has been determined in Singapore, then the 9th of Dhulhijjah – which is the Day of Arafat – would then have to be based on the date that has been determined earlier."

The Office of the Mufti further said that being five hours ahead of KSA meant that even if KSA did enter a new Islamic month based on a new moon being sighted a few hours later, Singapore would not have entered that month at the traditional time of sighting as based on the methods of rukyah (رؤية, personally sighting) and khisab (حساب, calculation).

"However, for countries located to the west of Makkah, if it has been determined that the new moon has been sighted, then all the countries will be subjected to Makkah’s decision (on the beginning of the new hijri month)," the organisation concluded.

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107,000 pilgrims encircle the Ka'abah every hour

Source: Centre for Government Communications, KSA.  Pilgrims circumnabulating the Ka'abah.
Source: Centre for Government Communications, KSA.
Pilgrims circumnabulating the Ka'abah.
The KSA General Authority for Statistics has stated that, as of 18 August, there are 278,000 people praying in the Grand Mosque (Al-Haram Mosque) in Makkah, and 107,000 pilgrims circling the Ka'abah every hour.

According to the Saudi General Director of Passports, a total of 1,684,629 pilgrims have arrived in KSA via air, land, and sea ports by noon, August 16. The Hajj will be performed by an estimated 2 million pilgrims, including KSA residents.

Additionally, there are also more than 10,000 staff members from the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque tending to pilgrims and visitor’s needs.

Furthermore, 42 research and scholarly papers have been published by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Institute of Hajj and Umrah Research, to develop a comprehensive, sustainable system for Hajj, umrah, and general visits.

Research that the institute is working on includes:

– An analytical study on the time it takes for pilgrims to complete necessary procedures to enter the kingdom.
– The modelling and simulation of tawaf (الطواف; circumambulation).
Hajj and Umrah 2018 demographics and statistics.
– Employing interactive smart screens for navigation.
– The role of public relations (PR) pamphlets in health awareness and promotion.
– The evaluation of sanitary prayer counters in the Grand Mosque.
– Transportation from/to holy sites.
– The role of Saudi embassies in educating pilgrims about lawful conduct

The Ministry of the Interior has kept checks up on work and transport permits for the Hajj season. According to the Commander of Hajj Security Forces, 188,464 individuals and 837,46 vehicles were turned away from Hajj zones from 9 July to 6 August at 12 Makkah checkpoints.

This year’s Hajj started on August 19 and will end August 24.

1.3 million Qurans to be given to Hajj pilgrims

King Fahd’s Quran Printing Complex, located in Madinah, KSA will be distributing 1,383,610 copies of the Quran and Quran translations as a gift from King Salman of KSA to Hajj pilgrims.

The Quran gift will be distributed from August 23 till 30 to pilgrims departing through local airports in Jeddah, Madinah, and seven other main ports of land, sea, and air.

King Fahd Printing Complex has also been distributing copies of Hajj rituals through the Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah. The distribution began in July and ended 14 August, with 389,186 copies handed out.

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, KSA gives overview of Hajj services in 2018

The KSA Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr Mohammed Saleh bin Taher Benten confirmed that the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah is monitoring activities and services during Hajj 2018 in line with Vision 2030.

According to a report by the Saudi Press Agency, Dr Benten is quoted as saying there are currently different ways to send reports, complaints and enquiries: on the number 800 430 4444, and through the Manasikana mobile app, he said. Feedback through Manasikana activates follow-up mechanisms to ensure the quality of Hajj services and the effectiveness of all electronic and operational systems.

There are reception centres for pilgrims at the entrances to Makkah and Madinah, while more than 1,800 employees organise the traffic of buses to pilgrims in both cities.

Two Saudi women have been appointed to the board of directors of the South Asian pilgrims Guides Foundation, he stated, boosting the role of women in organisation of the Hajj. Women also are working in command and control rooms, and reception offices.


Deputy Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr Abdulfattah bin Suleiman Mashat said the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has created an electronic path, linking all Hajj-related bodies to shorten the time spent to fulfill the measure and control the level of the service offered. It has also launched smart translation in major languages in addition to reminding pilgrims of when they need to move from one point to another to fulfil various rituals.

The more than 17,000 buses providing transport are being monitored, so that their movements within Hajj zones can be controlled. Makkah is longing for you and Become helpful for others initiatives which organise volunteers for the Hajj.

The Undersecretary of the Ministry for Hajj Affairs Dr Hussein Al-Shareef said there are 720 field services offices available to serve more than 2 million pilgrims. A preprocessed food snacks service will be launched this year to target 15% of pilgrims, and gradually increased in the coming years, he said.

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What's behind mobile services at Hajj 2018

The General Authority for Statistics in KSA (GASTAT) has published an infographic of ICT services provided to Hajj pilgrims.

According to the infographic, 7,411 employees from five different sectors are working to provide 15 essential services 24x7 under the aegis of the Communications and Information Technology Commission in accordance with authorised service providers.

There are 69 branch offices for telecommunications services in Makkah this year, plus 15,927 2G, 3G and 4G cell towers for mobile communications in Makkah, Mina, Muzdalifah, Arafat, Madinah and at the Grand Mosque (Masjid Al-Haram). Nearly 3,000 of the cell towers in Makkah and Madinah were introduced for Hajj 2018. Additionally, telecom and Internet services are available at air, land and sea ports as well as along roads to serve pilgrims.

The number of 4G cell towers increased by 42.9% over Hajj 2017 at the Grand Mosque; was up 24.4% in Makkah, rose by 106% at the holy places, and went up 24.5% in Madinah. The increase in 4G network capacity at peak hours for Hajj 2018 reached 80% at the Grand Mosque, 84% in Makkah, 182% at the holy places, and 36.3% in Madinah. There are also 3,000 Wi-Fi hotspots available.

The Communications and Information Technology Commission branch in Makkah periodically checks audio and Internet quality, scans the frequency bands of mobile networks at the two main mosques as well as the connected highways between Makkah, Jeddah and Madinah to ensure the quality of mobile services. It also deals with any harmful interference that may affect the performance of the network and allows the use of frequencies of each mobile service provider to increase the capacity of the network and improve the level of services provided to Hajj pilgrims.

KSA's telecommunications companies have more than 460 sales points available at the holy places to provide SIM cards, data SIM cards and recharge cards, as well as providing technical support centres with various languages to serve pilgrims.

Source: GASTAT. Information and communication technology services for Hajj 2018.
Source: GASTAT. Information and communication technology services for Hajj 2018.


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Read the Suroor Asia blog post about KSA's Smart Hajj initiative

Friday, 17 August 2018

August Sukuk Al-Salam 100% subscribed in Bahrain

The Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) has announced that the monthly issue of the Sukuk Al-Salam Islamic securities were fully subscribed at 100%. This is issue 208 (BH00012B7P87) of the short-term Sukuk Al-Salam series.

Subscriptions worth BD43 million were received for the issue, which carries a maturity of 91 days. The expected return on the issue, which begins on 22 August 2018 and matures on 21 November 2018, is 4.02% compared to 3.94% for the previous issue on 18 July 2018.

Sukuk Al-Salam are issued by the CBB on behalf of the Bahrain government.

Madinah Municipality outlines plans for Hajj

Source: KSA Centre for Government Communication. An inspection by the Madinah Regional Municipality.
Source: KSA Centre for Government Communication.
An inspection by the Madinah Regional Municipality.
Madinah Regional Municipality Secretary Engineer Mohammed bin Abdulhadi Alomari has shared that 4,073 inspection tours on food and health facilities are part of the Hajj 2018 strategy.

Inspection tours and visits focusing on the degree of danger and compliance with health rules and regulations have reached 1,222 food-related facilities such as kitchens, restaurants, hotels, fast-food restaurants, and meat shops. 

He also noted that regular inspections on gas stations, service centres, and rest areas alongside highways connecting Makkah to Madinah are also underway.

Alomari further announced that cleaning will be done daily in public places, especially surrounding the Prophet’s mosque and Islamic and historical sites. There will be 3,874 cleaning crew, including cleaners, supervisors, inspectors, and drivers. 

Hajj pilgrim arrivals continue apace

As of August 16, the Saudi Press Agency has reported that Hajj pilgrim arrivals reached 1,684,629 according to the Directorate General For Passports, KSA.

Those arriving by air reached 1,584,085, while 84,381 pilgrims came by land and 16,163 pilgrims by sea. The total number of pilgrims who arrived in Madinah as of August 15 was 841,734 according to daily statistics issued by the Unit of Media and Social Communication in Hajj Committee in Madinah. Another 131,608 pilgrims remained in Madinah.

The Saudi Press Agency separately reported that Palestinian pilgrims of the families of martyrs left for KSA on August 15. The pilgrims are guests of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques under a Hajj and umrah programme supervised by Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance for more than 5,000 pilgrims from 94 countries in the world. They follow the first Hajj mission from Palestine, which left on August 11.
 
The arrival of the last flights as part of the Makkah Road initiative on August 16 marked the completion of the initiative for Hajj 2018, the Saudi Press Agency said. The initiative took place at the Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta airports in Malaysia and Indonesia respectively, benefitting 103,057 pilgrims through 240 flights, including 137 flights at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah and 103 flights at Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz Airport in Madinah, KSA.

On August 15, the Oman News Agency reported that the 2018 Military Hajj Mission left the country on Royal Air Force of Oman Transport planes, to Makkah.

The Military Hajj Mission is sent annually upon the royal orders and directives of HM the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces to the personnel of SAF and other military and security apparatuses, and may involve active personnel as well as retirees.

The Kuwait News Agency reported the same day that Kuwait Airways sent 4,654 Hajj pilgrims on 16 flights to  King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah and Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz Airport in Madinah.

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Fireworks for Eid at Sharjah's Al Majaz Waterfront

The Al Majaz Waterfront, a major leisure destination in Sharjah, UAE, will mark the start of Eid al-Adha with fireworks.

The Emirates News Agency (WAM) has reported that three minutes of fireworks will begin at 9pm on the 1st and 2nd days of Eid above the Sharjah Musical Fountain. There will also be other entertainment.

Source: Al Majaz Waterfront website. Fireworks on 
Marwa Obaid Al Shamsi, Manager of the Al Majaz Waterfront, said, "Eid al-Adha is an occasion of joy and celebration for the entire family, especially children. The Al Majaz Waterfront will be celebrating, with all its visitors, an exceptional fireworks display, which is a popular event that residents eagerly wait for every year.

"The Al Majaz Waterfront boasts world-class facilities, green areas and play areas for kids, as well as 16 restaurants and cafés serving international cuisine, which makes it an ideal destination for gatherings with friends and family to enjoy such special occasions."

The Al Majaz Waterfront offers visitors international dining at Sutis (Turkish food), Al Fanar (Emirati cuisine), Pizzaro (Italian eats), TGI Fridays (Western food), Al Rawi (a Western fusion menu) and Lebanese restaurant Zahr El Laymoun, as well as a children’s play area and other facilities. It also hosts a variety of arts and entertainment activities throughout the year, including film screenings, stage shows, and firework displays on New Year’s Eve.

The area also features recreational facilities and artistic activities at the Maraya Art Park, which is a platform for regional and international outdoor art projects. Two sections of the Park are located at Al Majaz Waterfront; the (Sculptures Park) which showcases projects from local and international artists, designers and architects. The Children's Art Park introduces art to children through sculptures, interactive games, and educational activities.

WAM separately shared Brigadier-General Abdullah Mubarak bin Amer, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of Sharjah Police's announcement that the General Command of Sharjah Police is ready for Eid al-Adha.

Any incidents or misconduct should be reported to the Central Operations Room by calling 901 for non-emergency cases and 999 for emergency cases.

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Get directions to Al Majaz Waterfront

Hashtags: الشارقة, #الإمارات, #واجهة_المجاز_المائية, #عيد_الاضحى_المبارك#, #sharjah, #uae, #almajazwf, #eid_celebration

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

King Abdullah Medical City sets up hotline for Hajj stroke cases

Source: Centre for Government Communication, KSA. King Abdullah Medical City.
Source: Centre for Government Communication, KSA.
King Abdullah Medical City.
For the fourth year in a row, King Abdullah Medical City, a specialist hospital, has set up a hotline to match stroke and cases with doctors and specialists in Makkah hospitals in KSA. The hotline also arranges transportation of urgent cases to the Medical City.

The hotlines are up 24x7 during the Hajj period, with alternative direct phone numbers also provided in case the hotline is busy.

The Director of the Medical Coordination, King Abdullah Medical City Rami Al-Sufi has pointed out that the hotline is critical when time is of the essence with treating cerebral strokes.

The 550-bed hospital separately announced that it has conducted more than 100 specialised operations on Hajj pilgrims.

Scouts on hand to help during Hajj

Source: Center for Government Communications, KSA. Scouts in Mina, KSA.
Source: Center for Government Communications, KSA.
Scouts in Mina, KSA.
The Saudi Boy Scouts Association is fielding 3,000 scouts from 370 scout bands during the Hajj 2018 period to help pilgrims.

The scouts guide lost pilgrims to their destinations, hand out Qurans, maps, books and educational material, help with crowd control at Ministry of Islamic Affairs locations and health facilities, and also report violations to the authorities.

KSA Food and Drug Authority updates on Hajj 2018 statistics

Source: Center for Government Communication, KSA. Food and drug inspectors are at the borders 24x7 to clear items from Hajj pilgrims.
Source: Center for Government Communication, KSA.
Food and drug inspectors are at the borders 24x7 to clear items
from Hajj pilgrims.
The Saudi Food and Drug Authority has so far inspected over 8,000 food, drugs, medical device and other imports via air, land, and sea as part of Hajj 2018. 

The 150 inspectors are assigned to King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, and Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah, KSA as well as the land and sea entry points that receive pilgrims to clear any products coming in 24x7. A total of 7,954 items were cleared, while 310 items had expired, came from unknown sources, or were in unusually large quantities.

The authority has also inspected 413 facilities such as kitchens, fast-food restaurants, and storage units. During the inspections, 461 health violations were found and 473 kg of food was destroyed. The authority is working together with the highway patrol at its three designated checkpoints (Alshumaisi, Aljamjoum, and Bahra) for the first time to inspect vehicles that transport food. So far, 8,871 vehicles have been inspected, and 88.7 tons of spoiled food, and 14,964 l of spoiled liquid food, have been registered.