CAIRO, Aug 20, 2018 (MENA) - Executive Director of the National Foundation to Facilitate Hajj and Umrah Ayman Abdel Mawgoud said that all Egyptian pilgrims are safe and sound and unharmed by the adverse weather conditions that hit the holy sites in Saudi Arabia on Sunday.
In statements to MENA, Abdel Mawgoud, who is also the head of the NGO Hajj mission, said that the NGO pilgrims were safe and sound as they abide by the moderators' instructions to stay in their tents.
The pilgrims gathered on Monday at Mount Arafat to mark the pinnacle of the annual Hajj.
RIYADH, August 20, 2018 (MENA) - The holy cubic-shaped Kabaa is dressed in its new gold-laced Kiswa (cover) after Fajr prayer on Monday, a tradition that takes place on the 9th day of Dul Hijjah every year, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
Officials from the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques Affairs took down the old kiswa to embroider it with the new one, which is made from pure silk at Mecca’s Kiswa Factory.
The new Kiswa hung over the old one from the top and then the old one is removed from underneath.
Until 1927, Egypt used to manufacture the Kiswa and sent it in a huge annual parade before the hajj season. But this tradition stopped after late Saudi King Abdel Aziz Al Saud ordered the establishment of a factory to manufacture the Kiswa.
Made by 160 craftsmen, the Kiswa consists of black silk with self embroidered calligraphies, and strips of embroidered in the lower part of the top quarter of the walls.
It is made with 670 kg of pure silk, and 120 kg of gold and 100 kg of silver thread that is used for sewing the Quranic verses.
The General Authority for Statistics announced that the total pilgrim number from inside and outside Saudi Arabia who arrived in Meccauntil 11 p.m Sunday evening reached 1.933 million pilgrims.
The authority said in a statement that the final announcement on the total pilgrim number of this year's Hajj will be today evening, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
MECCA (Saudi Arabia), August 19, 2018 (AFP) - More than two million Muslims from around the globe on Sunday started the hajj pilgrimage at Islam's holiest sites in Saudi Arabia, one of the world's largest annual gatherings.
The conservative kingdom, which is undergoing dramatic social and economic reforms, has mobilised vast resources for the six-day journey, one of the five pillars of Islam.
"It's the dream of every Muslim to come here to Mecca," Frenchman Soliman Ben Mohri said.
"It's the ultimate journey. What worries me is the return to my normal life. For the moment, I am in a dream," the 53-year old told AFP.
Every Muslim is required to complete the hajj at least once in their lifetime if they have the means to do so.
Tens of thousands of security personnel have been deployed for the pilgrimage, which was struck by its worst ever disaster three years ago when around 2,300 worshippers were crushed to death in a stampede.
This year, the Saudis have launched a "smart hajj" initiative, with apps to help pilgrims with everything from travel plans to medical care.
The interior ministry said on Saturday that the number of pilgrims arriving in Mecca had already surpassed the two million mark, mostly from abroad including large contingents from Egypt, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
MECCA, Saudi Arabia, August 18, 2018 - Hisham Mostafa briefly forgot the war in Syria and his financial worries as he looked upon Islam's holiest sites for the first time, standing among hundreds of thousands of white-clad Muslims gathered in Mecca ahead of the haj pilgrimage.
"This is the first time I see the Grand Mosque and the Kaaba. It is the best feeling of my life to be able to perform the haj," said Mostafa, 50.
The accountant traveled to Saudi Arabia from Turkey where he has lived for five years since fleeing Aleppo in Syria. "War destroys everything ... Life in Turkey is hard and I barely earn enough."
But he was able to join about 2 million Muslims, including 1.68 million from abroad, flooding Mecca's streets for the annual rite which starts on Sunday.
Nayef Ahmed, 37, told Reuters that in order to afford the haj he had to sell a plot of land in Yemen.
"Because of the war the prices are very high. But being here I feel comfort and peace and I pray to God for the war to end."
Saudi Arabia stakes its reputation on its guardianship of Islam's holiest sites and organising a peaceful haj.
The interior ministry has put in place measures to confront any security threat from militant attacks to political protests, but no specific threats have been detected, a spokesman said.
"We will prevent any actions that are not part of the haj ritual and any act that may impact the safety of pilgrims or their ability to perform the rite," Interior Ministry spokesman Mansour Turki told Reuters.
"I came for umrah (minor pilgrimage) in 2007 and today after 10 years of registering and waiting, I am here," said Najwa, 59, from Tunisia. "I cannot describe the feeling. I cry every day."
The haj itinerary retraces the route Prophet Mohammad took 14 centuries ago. Saudi Arabia has made use of technology to manage the flow of millions at the same place at the same time.
This includes electronic identification bracelets, connected to GPS, that were introduced after a 2015 crush killed hundreds.
"There is a comprehensive electronic agenda for every pilgrim and we have provided many apps that offer guidance," Minister of Haj and Umrah Mohammed Bintin said.
"We have a fleet of more than 18,000 buses, all of them linked to a control system that tracks their path."
He said a high speed railway between Mecca and Medina had been completed and was being now being tested.
DUBAI, August 17, 2018 (News Wires) - Saudi state oil giant producer Saudi Aramco is still committed to meeting future oil demand through continued investments, the kingdom's Energy Minister Khalid Al Falih said in a company report on Friday.
Aramco, which is slated for a public share sale, "continued to prepare itself for the listing of its shares, a landmark event the companu and its board anticipate with excitement," Al Falih was quoted as saying.
RIYADH, August 17, 2018 (MENA) - Saudi Arabia has provided a sum of $100 million for the US-led international coalition to combat Daesh plots in the areas liberated in northeast Syria, the Saudi Press Agency reported Friday.
This is the largest ever contribution made by Riyadh for the coalition, and comes in implementation of Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir's pledge during the Global Coalition Ministerial Conference in Brussels, hosted by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on July 12.
This contribution will play a critical role in the coalition’s efforts to revitalize communities, such as Raqqa, which have been devastated by Daesh terrorists.