Makkah governor rejects Qatar’s attempt to reduce Saudi role in Hajj

Mohammed Al-Sulami
Tue, 2017-08-08 03:00

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia rejects all attempts to politicize and internationalize the Hajj, Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, chairman of the Central Hajj Committee, said on Monday.
Prince Khaled, adviser to King Salman and governor of Makkah Region, was speaking at the inauguration of the “Hajj is Worship and Civilized Behavior” campaign. “Hajj is a message of peace,” he said.
On the campaign by Qatar to reduce the role of the Kingdom in providing services to pilgrims, Prince Khaled said: “The answer is in the title of this campaign … There can be no politicization of pilgrimage.”
Prince Khaled said Saudi Arabia’s leadership, government and people were keen to provide everything to serve the Hajj pilgrims, and to enable them to perform their pilgrimage with ease.
He urged all pilgrims to be infused with Islamic ethics and to be a model of Muslim civilization.
“The campaign since its inception has achieved great achievements and successes, including the reduction of the rate of offenders to 5 percent during the pilgrimage season compared to 9 percent in the previous year,” he said.
“There is a lot of doubting, but the lesson is in the results and the achievement. The regulations will be applied firmly and with Islamic ethics.”
Prince Khaled revealed that the Makkah Region Development Authority had implemented projects worth SR300 million this year to improve Hajj services and develop them in the current season. The authority and the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah would implement a large project in the holy sites to be announced in due course, he said. “All sectors have their achievements in the pilgrimage season.”
The campaign, launched by the emirate of Makkah in 2008, continues to spread the Hajj message of peace. It will work to consolidate the ultimate goal of bringing millions together for performing a pillar of Islam based on peace and spirituality.
The objectives of the campaign are to educate pilgrims to abide by public laws and regulations, thus contributing significantly to a safe and peaceful pilgrimage.
The campaign targets citizens, residents, Tawafa organizations, Hajj companies, the transport sector and the media.

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Saudi train fares ‘to be competitive compared to air ticket prices’

Tue, 2017-08-08 03:00

RIYADH: Train fares within the Kingdom will be competitive compared to the cost of traveling by air, an official of the Saudi Railway Company (SAR) told local media.
Bashar bin Khaled Al-Malik, chief executive of SAR, said the Kingdom has completed the majority of its planned railway network, notably in Makkah and the Northern Border Regions.
Some commercial operations have begun, while the Makkah-Madinah railway line is expected to go into commercial operation before the end of 2017, Al-Malik told the Al-Eqtisadiah daily.
The central and eastern regions will later be linked with a new line, in addition to the development of an existing track, Al-Malik said.
Outstanding works include linking the western and eastern parts of the Kingdom through the “land bridge” between Jeddah and Riyadh, which is expected to be implemented in the next year. The southern part of the Kingdom will be also linked with the western part under a strategic plan set by SAR and the Public Transport Authority (PTA), Al-Malik said.
The train systems deployed in the Kingdom are considered the most advanced, to the extent that the majority of European countries have not yet applied the technology, Al-Malik said.
The systems include a way to monitor train movements, departure timings, routes and speeds.
Al-Malik said Saudi rail projects have attracted a large number of national companies and Saudi engineers, whether in the form of sub-contracting or direct awarding contracts. Operation of the rail projects will come in the form of contracts with foreign firms, while the role of SAR will be to supervise the operators, Al-Malik said.

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Saudi Arabia hosts world’s largest date festival in Buraidah

Tue, 2017-08-08 03:00

RIYADH: Qassim, which hosts the world’s largest date festival in Buraidah every year at this time, is swirling with activities, with date farmers expecting high sales figures during this year’s 45-day festival.
The festival, which is not simply an annual marketplace, but also a lifeline for thousands of farmers and youths who depend on the income generated from date farming, was launched in Buraidah on Saturday by the Qassim governorate.
Saudi Arabia has the highest number of the date palm trees in the world, roughly accounting for 25 percent of the world date production. The Qassim region alone has around 7 million date palm trees, the highest among all regions in the Kingdom.
Commenting on Buraidah Date Festival 2017, Khalid Al-Niqaidan, chief executive officer of the festival, said that integrated services that will be supportive to farmers, traders and consumers have been set up in one of the biggest economic gatherings in the world.
He added that quality-control teams have been assigned to ensure that date products are free from pesticides, fraud and other irregularities. Additionally, a guide office has been established to guide customers on the finest types of dates, while a tent was set aside to allow youths sell dates on a retail basis.
This year, the organizers introduced new functions and programs to attract the broad participation of families, children and youths. These programs include a number of activities related to dates, as well as social and cultural programs. There are informative and recreational sessions accompanying the festival, including an awareness program for youths to encourage them to enter the market.
The annual date festival is an important event to source products to be used for date derivatives including date syrup, date paste and date gifts boxes to be used for all occasions throughout the year.
The Ministry of Water, Environment and Agriculture encourages date farming, allocates land, helps farmers purchase farming equipment and provides farmers access to long-term loans through the Saudi Arabian Agricultural Bank.

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Medical breakthrough raises hopes for autoimmune disease patients in Saudi Arabia

Arab News
Tue, 2017-08-08 03:00

RIYADH: Prof. Tadamitsu Kishimoto of Osaka University, winner of the King Faisal International Prize for Medicine 2017, has stated that more than 100 countries, including Saudi Arabia, have adopted an effective biological approach in the treatment of autoimmune diseases, raising hopes for millions of people around the world who suffer from such diseases.
Prof. Kishimoto, who was recently awarded the prestigious prize for the discovery of endogenous chemical interleukin-6’s (IL-6) pathway and its role in inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, said this while delivering a lecture at the College of Medicine at the King Saud University in Riyadh. This lecture reflected the King Faisal International Prize’s efforts to promote the dissemination, transfer and localization of knowledge by honoring humanitarian achievements and celebrating everything that serves people and improves their well-being.
Kishimoto has, through his research during the last 30 years, developed an IL-6 receptor-blocking antibody that has been recognized as the first approved treatment for diseases such progressive sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
“The discovery of IL-6 receptor-blocking antibody has led to a major breakthrough in the treatment of autoimmune diseases. It has been approved for treatment in over 100 countries, including Saudi Arabia, Japan, the EU, and the US. Today almost 1 million people suffering from such diseases are being successfully treated with this antibody,” stated Kishimoto.
Besides being an immune protein, IL-6 is responsible for fever in autoimmune, infectious or non-infectious diseases, and is produced in the body wherever there is inflammation. IL-6 is implicated in a wide variety of inflammation-associated diseases, including diabetes mellitus and systemic juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
The discovery of the antibody has not only led to the treatment of inflammatory diseases but has also paved the way for the training of several immunologists in all parts of the world, added Kishimoto.
The King Faisal International Prize in Medicine has earlier been awarded to two researchers from Japan. Tetsuro Fujiwara was the first recipient when he shared the award with Bengt A. Robertson of Sweden in 1996 for research on the management of Neonatal Respiratory Distress Syndrome.
Shinya Yamanaka was the second winner, sharing the prize in 2011 with James Alexander Thomson of the US. Yamanaka later won the Nobel Prize in 2012.

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Saudi Arabia: Our position on Syria’s future is firm, no place for Assad

Mon, 2017-08-07 03:00

JEDDAH: An official source at the Saudi Foreign Ministry has said reports by several media outlets quoting Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir regarding the Syrian crisis as “inaccurate.”
Saudi Press Agency (SPA) quoted the source as saying: “The firm position of the Kingdom on the Syrian crisis is based on the principles of the Geneva 1 Declaration and UN Security Council Resolution 2254, which provides for the formation of a transitional authority to govern the country, the drafting of a new constitution and the preparation of elections for a new future for Syria which will have no place for Bashar Assad”.
The source confirmed Saudi Arabia’s support for the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), the procedures it is considering to expand the participation of its members, and the unification of the opposition.

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Riyadh public transport project is 57% complete, says acting governor

Mon, 2017-08-07 03:00

JEDDAH: Prince Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Abdul Aziz, acting Riyadh governor and vice-chairman of the Higher Committee for the implementation of the King Abdul Aziz Project for Public Transport in Riyadh, visited the Riyadh Metro project on Sunday. He was briefed on the developments and working techniques, as well as on the security and safety arrangements of the project.
On his arrival, Prince Mohammed was received by officials from the Higher Commission for the Development of Riyadh (HCDR).
“Work on the implementation of the Riyadh metro project is proceeding at steady steps according to the devised plans and programs. The completion rate of the project so far is 57 percent in all works and components of the project. The project will enhance Riyadh’s position among the most advanced cities of the world,” Prince Mohammed said in a press statement.
Upon his arrival to the location of the Green Line station (King Abdul Aziz Road axis), adjacent to the intersection of King Abdul Aziz Road and Prince Mamdouh bin Abdul Aziz Road in Sulaymaniyah district, the Prince was briefed on security and safety procedures.
Prince Mohammed then watched a short film about the deep tunneling work in the project, produced by the Supreme Commission earlier this year.
The drilling included three tunnels in three lines of the train network with a total length of 34 kilometers, through seven giant TBM tunneling machines.
Prince Mohammed was also briefed on the design of the station, its components and capacity of passengers, which is estimated at 53,000 passengers a day.
He watched a short film about the installation of bridges on the fourth track of the project, using giant bridge-building machines that were first used in the Kingdom.
During the visit, he toured King Abdul Aziz Road and was briefed on the work of implementing the infrastructure project for the Bus Project.
The bus project includes the construction of a bus transport network covering the entire city of Riyadh.
The public transport project in Riyadh — a metro network and a parallel bus network — is part of a plan for public transport developed by the HCDR.
The program aims to provide residents and visitors with suitable public transportation services, diversify means of transportation in the city and limit the use of private cars.

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Saudi man jailed for joining Daesh

Mon, 2017-08-07 03:00

JEDDAH: A former member of the Saudi military who fought for Daesh in Iraq and Syria, led a terrorist cell in Saudi Arabia and planned an attack on Azar Airport in Northern Borders Province was jailed for 20 years.
He was convicted at the Criminal Court in Riyadh of joining Daesh, meeting its leaders, training its fighters and taking part in its terrorist operations.
The court also found him guilty of relinquishing his oath of allegiance to the King and swearing allegiance instead to the leader of Daesh, and of relinquishing the oath he took when he joined the military.
He was also convicted of storing potentially harmful information and sending it through the Telegram messaging app to a Daesh terrorist.
The man’s prison sentence begins from the day of his arrest. When it ends, he will be banned from traveling outside Saudi Arabia for a further 20 years.

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52,898 labor violations uncovered in Saudi Arabia

Mon, 2017-08-07 03:00

RIYADH: Inspectors from the Ministry of Labor and Social Development have detected 52,898 labor violations in private sector companies, the ministry said.
Inspectors have conducted 141,827 visits to private sector firms in different provinces of the Kingdom since the beginning of the current Hijri year up to the end of Shawwal.
Ministry spokesman Khalid Aba Al-Khail stressed that inspectors will continue their tours in cooperation with other government agencies in all areas of the Kingdom in implementation of laws and regulations and to uncover labor violators.
He said the inspection tours come within the ministry’s desire to follow up on the commitment of parties to the decisions and laws regulating the labor market, and to protect business owners who are complying with the laws.
He called on citizens to communicate with the ministry through its call center (19911), or through the ”ma3an-lil-rasd” application on smart devices to report any labor-related irregularities.

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