Kaaba kiswa raised indicating beginning of Hajj season

Author: 
Tareq Al-Thaqafi
Wed, 2017-08-09 00:18
ID: 
1502277995303337500

MAKKAH: Following the annual custom, the lower part of Kaaba garment (kiswa) was raised and tailors covered the exposed part with a white cotton cloth of about two meters across the four sides.
This procedure is carried out every year as a precautionary measure to prevent people from damaging the kiswa, as they tend to touch the cover during their circumambulations, said Dr. Muhammad Bajouda, director of the King Abdul Aziz Complex for the Kaaba.
The covering of the Kaaba is raised each year as a sign of the beginning of the month of the Hajj.
The kiswa was previously raised on the first day of Dhu Al-Hijjah as an announcement of the advent of the rite and an indication of the beginning of the holy days.
According to Bajouda: “With a decrease in the number of pilgrims, the date of raising the kiswa was put forward, as the numbers were very few and it was difficult for many pilgrims to come in those years.” But with the improvement of economic conditions and means of transport, the date was changed to the middle of Dhu’l-Qi’dah.
He pointed out that the number of pilgrims, which exceeds 2 million, is one of the reasons for raising the kiswa — to preserve it.
“The kiswa is raised from the mataf the equivalent of three meters out of the 14-meter height of the Kaaba. Eleven meters remain covered until the 12th of the month of Muharram.” Bajouda said.
This period passes by changing this cover once a year, during the Hajj season, on the morning of the day of Arafah, the ninth of Dhu Al-Hijjah, to return the covering of the Kaaba until the 12th of Muharram.
“On the eighth day of the month of Dhu Al-Hijjah every year, the 52 gilded parts are removed,” he said.

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Algerian FM concludes regional tour to mediate Qatar crisis

Author: 
RASHID HASSAN
Wed, 2017-08-09 03:00
ID: 
1502226927759016600

RIYADH: Algerian Foreign Minister Abdelkader Messahel concluded a regional tour aimed at resolving the Qatar crisis.
Algeria’s ambassador in Riyadh, Ahmed Abdulsadouq, on Tuesday told Arab News that the minister is now in Iraq, from where he will wrap up his tour of Arab countries.
The envoy said the minister started the tour last week in Saudi Arabia, and on Sunday held talks with Qatari leaders.
While in the Kingdom, Messahel met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah.
They discussed the latest regional developments, including the Qatar crisis; joint efforts against terrorism; and developing bilateral cooperation in various fields, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
The Anti-Terror Quartet (ATQ) — comprising Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain — cut ties with Qatar in June, accusing it of backing terrorist groups, which Doha denies, and developing ties with Iran, which has destabilized the region.
Algeria is taking on the role of mediator after attempts by Kuwait, the US and Turkey. Earlier, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan toured the region and held talks aimed at defusing the crisis.

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Serve Hajj pilgrims with a smile: Acting Madinah governor

Author: 
MOHAMMED RASOOLDEEN
Wed, 2017-08-09 03:00
ID: 
1502226927799017500

RIYADH: Acting Madinah Gov. Prince Saud bin Khaled Al-Faisal has told officials to serve Hajj pilgrims with a smile and be proud of the opportunity to serve them.
Following his inspection of facilities providing services to Hajj pilgrims, he urged officials to redouble their efforts to offer them satisfactory services.
He was received by government officials at Prince Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz International Airport, where he was briefed on procedures at its immigration and airline counters.
During his visit to the National Guides Establishment, the prince launched a new service to track missing pilgrims.
He also visited the operations control room that monitors pilgrims’ movement in Madinah.
He was accompanied by the district police chief, Maj. Gen. Abdul Hadi Al-Shahrani; the undersecretary of the Ministry of Hajj branch in Madinah, Mohammed Al-Bejawi; and the director general of the Hajj and Umrah General Administration, Sami Issawi.

Health Ministry increases efforts against heat, sunstroke during Hajj
The Health Ministry has intensified efforts to prevent heat and sunstroke, and treat patients, during the Hajj season.
Prior to the season, the ministry conducted training courses for its health officials on how to treat sun- and heat-affected pilgrims.
Health facilities in the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah are fully equipped to treat patients suffering heat-related symptoms.
The ministry is carrying out awareness programs among arriving pilgrims on how to avoid sun and heatstroke.
Brochures are being distributed in several languages, telling pilgrims to avoid direct sun exposure, use an umbrella or stay in the shade, drink plenty of liquids, and go out during evenings and at night rather than during the day.
Diabetics are advised to carry sweets and biscuits, and ensure they take their medicines at the correct times and eat proper meals.

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KSRelief’s efforts against cholera in Yemen lauded

Author: 
ARAB NEWS
Wed, 2017-08-09 03:00
ID: 
1502226927779016900

WASHINGTON: The principal economic officer at the Yemeni Embassy in Washington has lauded the “integral role” played in his country by the King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Aid (KSRelief).
KSRelief “has demonstrated its ability to support fast-response projects across numerous sectors simultaneously,” Abdulrahman Al-Eryani told Arab News.
Its recent efforts to combat cholera in Yemen “is an example of the center’s agility and commitment in tackling new humanitarian challenges,” he added.
Last week, KSRelief donated $33.7 million to the World Health Organization (WHO) to combat cholera in Yemen, following a donation of $33 million to UNICEF at the end of July.
The Kingdom was responding to an urgent appeal by the WHO and UNICEF for help to contain the disease, whose spread has raised fears that it will further aggravate an already serious humanitarian crisis.
A spokesperson for USAID, the leading US government agency tasked with alleviating poverty worldwide, told Arab News: “We welcome this assistance, and encourage future contributions to fight the alarming prevalence of cholera and food insecurity in Yemen.”
Gerald Feierstein, former US ambassador to Yemen, told Arab News: “In two years of conflict in Yemen, KSRelief has been one of the key international partners for humanitarian relief to the Yemeni people, providing hundreds of millions of dollars of food, medicine and other essential supplies.”
It has also been “a valued partner with the international aid community, including USAID… in coordinating the larger relief effort,” he added.
Since its establishment in 2015, KSRelief has provided $914.3 million worth of humanitarian aid and relief, including the latest pledges.
The assistance has included implementing 218 projects that address issues such as food security, housing and shelter, preventative health care and education.
KSRelief works with dozens of partners worldwide, including the World Food Programme (WFP), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

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All Saudi airports to be privatized this year

Author: 
Arab News
Wed, 2017-08-09 03:19
ID: 
1502227508999079700

JEDDAH: All Saudi airports will be privatized this year, the head of the General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA), Abdul Hakim Al-Tamimi, told Aleqtesadiah daily.
GACA’s privatization strategy aims to transfer all Saudi airports to companies wholly owned by the Saudi Civil Aviation Holding Co., then transfer ownership of the holding company to the Public Investment Fund (PIF).
The aim “is to improve the level of services provided to passengers, and to convert the targeted sectors into a profitable center to cover costs and to be a source of income for the owner,” Al-Tamimi said, adding that the privatization will be implemented via three methods.
The first relates to the transfer of an airport to a company, similar to what is happening at King Khaled International Airport in Riyadh, where a minority holding is sold. Then an airport board of directors is formed that has powers in the management of the company.
The second method is operation and maintenance, similar to what happened at the new King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah.
GACA will bear the capital cost of establishing the project, and will share the income with investors.
The third method is the BTO (build, operate and transfer) system, such as what was done with Prince Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz Airport in Madinah, and with Taif, Hail, Qassim and Yanbu airports, which signed contracts with investors.
The employees will be transferred to the investor’s responsibility, who bears the capital cost of the project and shares the income with the authority.
The head of GACA said the privatization will be completed in stages and in the form of groups.
“GACA will be the regulator and controller of the aviation sector in the next phase, in the event of concluding the privatization process,” he said.
Saudi Arabia has hired Goldman Sachs to manage the sale of a stake in King Khalid International Airport, the first major privatization of an airport in the Kingdom, three sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.
The sources said the Saudi Civil Aviation Holding Co. plans to sell a minority stake in the airport, without disclosing a timeframe for th sale.
The size and estimated value of the stake were not immediately known, but the airport is Saudi Arabia’s second-largest after Jeddah’s King Abdul Aziz International Airport.
Faisal Al-Suqair, chairman of the Saudi Civil Aviation Holding Co., said the conversion of airports to companies is the first step in the privatization of airports.
“These airports, after being transferred to companies, will be re-arranged to operate on a commercial basis and become more efficient practically and financially before they are privatized,” he said.

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Algerian FM concludes regional tour to mediate Qatar crisis

Author: 
RASHID HASSAN
Wed, 2017-08-09 03:00
ID: 
1502226927759016600

RIYADH: Algerian Foreign Minister Abdelkader Messahel concluded a regional tour aimed at resolving the Qatar crisis.
Algeria’s ambassador in Riyadh, Ahmed Abdulsadouq, on Tuesday told Arab News that the minister is now in Iraq, from where he will wrap up his tour of Arab countries.
The envoy said the minister started the tour last week in Saudi Arabia, and on Sunday held talks with Qatari leaders.
While in the Kingdom, Messahel met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah.
They discussed the latest regional developments, including the Qatar crisis; joint efforts against terrorism; and developing bilateral cooperation in various fields, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
The Anti-Terror Quartet (ATQ) — comprising Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain — cut ties with Qatar in June, accusing it of backing terrorist groups, which Doha denies, and developing ties with Iran, which has destabilized the region.
Algeria is taking on the role of mediator after attempts by Kuwait, the US and Turkey. Earlier, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan toured the region and held talks aimed at defusing the crisis.

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Saudi Arabia to allow 100% foreign ownership of engineering firms

Author: 
Frank Kane
Wed, 2017-08-09 02:59
ID: 
1502226197258905400

DUBAI: The opening up of Saudi Arabia’s economy is proceeding apace. On Monday, the government took another step along the road to welcoming more foreign investors into the Kingdom with the approval of new measures to encourage outsiders to get involved in the engineering industry, which is expected to become a boom sector as new infrastructure is built under the Vision 2030 strategy.
The Commerce and Investment Ministry, and the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (Sagia), have been in consultation for a year or so under the new proposals, and now have decided to allow 100 percent foreign ownership in the engineering business.
There are two conditions: The foreign entity must have a 10-year track record in operations, and it must already have a presence in at least four other countries. So only established multinationals need apply, a sensible measure designed to guarantee the quality of the new entrant.
Sagia has the power to waive these restrictions if an applicant firm’s presence would be considered in the best interests of the Kingdom.
The authority, under Chairman Majid Al-Qasabi, has been pushing for a more flexible approach to foreign investment for the past couple of years, since a 2015 policy initiative that foresaw 100 percent foreign ownership in most sectors in the long term.
That policy was in line with the World Trade Organization’s principles on free movement of investment, which Saudi Arabia signed up to in 2005. But the accelerated pace of opening up has a lot to do with the national transformation plan that aims to reduce the Kingdom’s reliance on the domestic oil industry and government employment. Greater foreign investment is seen as an essential part of that change.
Last year, two big sectors — retail and wholesale distribution — were taken off the “negative list” Sagia maintains for sectors not deemed appropriate for exclusive foreign ownership — like military and other security activities, some aspects for Islamic tourism, media, telecommunications and a few others.
The experience in retail and wholesale must have satisfied the authorities that it was a worthwhile step to encourage greater foreign involvement, which will now be extended to engineering.
Alain Sfeir, Riyadh-based corporate partner with law firm Clyde & Co., said: “It is a positive step forward. Foreign engineers and consultants are looking to get involved in and benefit from the expansion of infrastructure the Kingdom is experiencing, and the new corporate structure will give them more confidence to proceed.”
Details of the new proposals are still being finalized and can be expected to be released in a week or so. But if they follow the plans for retail and wholesale, you can expect 100 percent foreign ownership, previously limited to 75 percent; no requirement for a Saudi citizen to be a shareholder; and limited liability incorporation.
There will probably also be stipulations on minimum investment levels and employment of nationals in the new corporation, as well as commitments on research and development spending, and training, drawn up in consultation with the Saudi Council of Engineers, the national professional body.
The initiative, in such an important part of the economy, represents a further move away from the traditional model of “commercial agents” identified as a drag on regional economies by Karen Young, an academic with the Arab Gulf Sates Institute in Washington, DC.

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New Saudi ambassador optimistic about Saudi-US ties, says Riyadh at forefront of fighting terror

Author: 
ARAB NEWS
Tue, 2017-08-08 20:18
ID: 
1502201995146672200

JEDDAH: A huge improvement is witnessed in the Saudi-US relationship under the Trump administration, said the new Saudi ambassador to the US Prince Khaled bin Salman who recently presented his credentials to President Trump.
“I think that President Trump is determined to work with his allies in the region to counter Iranian expansionism and terrorism,” the envoy said in an interview with the Washington Post.
Addressing the Qatari crisis which has erupted in the region during the last two months, the Saudi prince said that Qatar’s policies are endangering the region’s national security. “I think Qatar’s policies have been a threat to our national security, especially when they interfere in our domestic politics and support extremists. In Syria, they have supported Al-Qaeda affiliates and some terrorist [Shiite] militias in Iraq,” he added hoping Qatar will stop funding extremism.
Prince Khaled rejected all claims made against his country regarding its support for extreme groups in Syria and said Saudi Arabia is “on the frontline of fighting terrorism,” whereas terror in Qatar is “government-funded.”
The interview also included Syria and its factions, where the prince confirmed that there are some moderate opposition groups such as the Free Syrian Army. “There are a lot of people in Syria who want to free themselves from the dictatorship of Bashar Assad. We are working with our allies to help stabilize Syria,” he said.
According to the Saudi envoy, more than 500,000 Syrians have been killed in the war. He affirmed that Riyadh and Washington are working together to put an end to the Syrian conflict, expressing his support of rid Syria of Assad altogether.
Prince Khaled, who is son of the current Saudi king and the brother of the new crown prince, denied the rumors surrounding his brother’s promotion. “I think His Highness (Mohammed) bin Nayef did an incredible job at counterterrorism. The king made the decision, supported by the Allegiance Council. Prince bin Nayef is in Saudi Arabia and is receiving guests,” he said slamming all allegations made against his brother about eyeing his cousin’s position forcing him out of his way to the throne. “We now have a dynamic young leadership, determined to push the country forward and to diversify our economy.”
Saudi Arabia is moving in the right direction in terms of human rights, said the envoy. “The last two years have been a time of big change in our country. Human rights have been moving forward, women’s rights have been moving forward. Saudi youth have been given a chance to play a part in our future,” he added.
The wise Saudi leadership recognizes the vital and essential role women are playing in the country’s future as it “can’t move forward without half of our population.”
Once agains, Saudi Arabia stood its ground regarding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict affirming that his country wants “to solve it (the issue) through the Arab peace initiative, and if Israel recognizes Palestine based on the 1967 borders, the Arab world has agreed to do so.”
As for the Sunni-Shiite conflict in Iraq, the prince insisted Iraqis to be treated equally in order not to lead to the creation of another bloody spring. “Sectarianism always leads to terrorism. The Sunnis and [Shiites] have to be treated equally as Iraqi citizens,” he added. “Iran wants Iraq to obey Iran. We support the independence of Iraq.”
The prince agreed that Daesh is a threat to Saudis and Muslims in general and need to be defeated in any way possible. “As Muslims, we in Saudi Arabia need to do whatever it takes to end this once and for all.”
As complicated as many people in the west think, Saudi Arabia did not start the war against Houthis in Yemen, denied the prince. “They started to march to the capital and take over Yemen before the Yemeni government asked Saudi Arabia to intervene and stop this attack,” he explained. The ball is [now] in the Houthis’ court. They have to drop their weapons and become part of Yemen, not part of Iran.”
Iran’s closure of the Strait of Hormuz is part of its dangerous scheme in the region. Prince Khaled said the Iranian threat is concerning the entire world, not only Saudi Arabia. ”The Strait of Hormuz is important not just to our economy but to the international economy,” he said.
He added that US and its allies do realize the size of the Iranian threat to international security. “We are ready to work together to contain Iranian actions and expansionist policies,” he said.
September 11 attacks also took part of the interview, where the Saudi envoy renewed his country’s rejection of all false claims associating it with the attack. “We had nothing to do with 9/11. In 1996, Osama Bin Laden issued a declaration of war against the United States and Saudi Arabia. In 1994, we took away Bin Laden’s Saudi citizenship when he was in Sudan,” Prince Khaled told the Washington Post. “We think the same people who attacked the United States on 9/11 attacked us in Saudi Arabia multiple times.”
He said that Al-Qaeda had a plan in placing 15 Saudis among the attackers as they wanted to “create a split between Saudi Arabia and the United States.”

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New KSA ambassador optimistic about Saudi-US ties, says Riyadh at forefront of fighting terror

Author: 
ARAB NEWS
Tue, 2017-08-08 20:18
ID: 
1502201995146672200

JEDDAH: A huge improvement is witnessed in the Saudi-US relationship under the Trump administration, said the new Saudi ambassador to the US Prince Khaled bin Salman who recently presented his credentials to President Trump.
“I think that President Trump is determined to work with his allies in the region to counter Iranian expansionism and terrorism,” the envoy said in an interview with the Washington Post.
Addressing the Qatari crisis which has erupted in the region during the last two months, the Saudi prince said that Qatar’s policies are endangering the region’s national security. “I think Qatar’s policies have been a threat to our national security, especially when they interfere in our domestic politics and support extremists. In Syria, they have supported Al-Qaeda affiliates and some terrorist [Shiite] militias in Iraq,” he added hoping Qatar will stop funding extremism.
Prince Khaled rejected all claims made against his country regarding its support for extreme groups in Syria and said Saudi Arabia is “on the frontline of fighting terrorism,” whereas terror in Qatar is “government-funded.”
The interview also included Syria and its factions, where the prince confirmed that there are some moderate opposition groups such as the Free Syrian Army. “There are a lot of people in Syria who want to free themselves from the dictatorship of Bashar Assad. We are working with our allies to help stabilize Syria,” he said.
According to the Saudi envoy, more than 500,000 Syrians have been killed in the war. He affirmed that Riyadh and Washington are working together to put an end to the Syrian conflict, expressing his support of rid Syria of Assad altogether.
Prince Khaled, who is son of the current Saudi king and the brother of the new crown prince, denied the rumors surrounding his brother’s promotion. “I think His Highness (Mohammed) bin Nayef did an incredible job at counterterrorism. The king made the decision, supported by the Allegiance Council. Prince bin Nayef is in Saudi Arabia and is receiving guests,” he said slamming all allegations made against his brother about eyeing his cousin’s position forcing him out of his way to the throne. “We now have a dynamic young leadership, determined to push the country forward and to diversify our economy.”
Saudi Arabia is moving in the right direction in terms of human rights, said the envoy. “The last two years have been a time of big change in our country. Human rights have been moving forward, women’s rights have been moving forward. Saudi youth have been given a chance to play a part in our future,” he added.
The wise Saudi leadership recognizes the vital and essential role women are playing in the country’s future as it “can’t move forward without half of our population.”
Once agains, Saudi Arabia stood its ground regarding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict affirming that his country wants “to solve it (the issue) through the Arab peace initiative, and if Israel recognizes Palestine based on the 1967 borders, the Arab world has agreed to do so.”
As for the Sunni-Shiite conflict in Iraq, the prince insisted Iraqis to be treated equally in order not to lead to the creation of another bloody spring. “Sectarianism always leads to terrorism. The Sunnis and [Shiites] have to be treated equally as Iraqi citizens,” he added. “Iran wants Iraq to obey Iran. We support the independence of Iraq.”
The prince agreed that Daesh is a threat to Saudis and Muslims in general and need to be defeated in any way possible. “As Muslims, we in Saudi Arabia need to do whatever it takes to end this once and for all.”
As complicated as many people in the west think, Saudi Arabia did not start the war against Houthis in Yemen, denied the prince. “They started to march to the capital and take over Yemen before the Yemeni government asked Saudi Arabia to intervene and stop this attack,” he explained. The ball is [now] in the Houthis’ court. They have to drop their weapons and become part of Yemen, not part of Iran.”
Iran’s closure of the Strait of Hormuz is part of its dangerous scheme in the region. Prince Khaled said the Iranian threat is concerning the entire world, not only Saudi Arabia. ”The Strait of Hormuz is important not just to our economy but to the international economy,” he said.
He added that US and its allies do realize the size of the Iranian threat to international security. “We are ready to work together to contain Iranian actions and expansionist policies,” he said.
September 11 attacks also took part of the interview, where the Saudi envoy renewed his country’s rejection of all false claims associating it with the attack. “We had nothing to do with 9/11. In 1996, Osama Bin Laden issued a declaration of war against the United States and Saudi Arabia. In 1994, we took away Bin Laden’s Saudi citizenship when he was in Sudan,” Prince Khaled told the Washington Post. “We think the same people who attacked the United States on 9/11 attacked us in Saudi Arabia multiple times.”
He said that Al-Qaeda had a plan in placing 15 Saudis among the attackers as they wanted to “create a split between Saudi Arabia and the United States.”

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3 wanted terrorists surrender in Qatif: Saudi interior ministry

Author: 
MOHAMMED AL-SULAMI | Arab News Staff
Tue, 2017-08-08 05:00
ID: 
1502140978931892200

JEDDAH: The Saudi Interior Ministry confirmed on Monday that three men from a list of 23 wanted terrorists have surrendered to security forces.
Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki said that Ali H. Al-Zaid, Ramzi M. Al-Jammal and Mohammed Al-Lubbad, all Saudi citizens, gave themselves up to the security authorities.
Al-Turki said their voluntary surrender would be taken into consideration, and that they will be treated according to the laws in force.
It emerged on Sunday that two of the men had surrendered in Qatif in eastern Saudi Arabia, with confirmation of a third man having given himself up coming later.
The ministry warned of grave consequences for anyone sheltering, hiding or offering any kind of assistance to wanted criminals.
Only three fugitives are still at large from a list of 23 terrorists issued in 2012. They are Salman A. Al-Faraj, Fadel H. Al-Safwani, and Mohammed H. Al-Zaid.
The ministry had already renewed its call to the rest of the wanted fugitives to surrender, and called upon anyone with information about them to inform the authorities.
Sheikh Mohammed Al-Ebidan, former judge in the Court of Endowments and Inheritance in Qatif, called upon terrorist groups to give themselves up, refrain from carrying weapons, and answer the call of Eastern Province Gov. Prince Saud bin Naif.
Prince Saud told Al Arabiya News Channel earlier: “My message to those is to let this country remain stable and in peace. Enough with the innocent blood they have shed so far. I call upon them to give themselves up to the responsible authorities, and, God willing, they will see nothing but good matters.”
Sheikh Mohammed Al-Ebidan stressed that “terrorism and terrorists are a cancerous gland our secure country has been infected with.”
Concerning the damage terrorists brought upon Qatif and its people, Sheikh Mohammed said: “We all know the extent of harm which has been brought upon this area due to carrying weapons, resisting security forces, killing innocent people, and the adverse effects caused by such behavior. All this necessitated a strong and serious stance to put an end to the bloodshed, especially since this has drawn the region to unwanted miseries, and it may draw it in the future to other calamities.”
Sheikh Ebidan called for “the return of that spirit which existed, and still exists, among the people of Qatif, who strongly want peace.”

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