Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Woman forced to remove clothing on France beach after burkini ban

A woman was forced to remove her 'burkini' swimsuit on a beach in Nice by armed police officers, a series of photos that emerged online Wednesday showed.

Nice last week became the latest French seaside resort to ban the burqini, the body-concealing Islamic swimsuit that has sparked heated debate in secular France.

The photos showed French police officers confronting a woman resting on a beach at Nice's Promenade des Anglais and asking her to remove the the 'burkini', The Guardian reported.

Four police officers stand around the woman as she removes a blue garment, with one officer appearing to take notes or issuing a fine. It could not be ascertained if the woman was actually wearing a burkini.

The mother of two had also been fined at a Cannes beach while wearing leggings, a tunic and a headscarf.

The ticket issued to her, seen by AFP, stated that she was not wearing “an outfit respecting good morals and secularism”.

“I was sitting on a beach with my family... I was wearing a classic headscarf. I had no intention of swimming,” said the 34-year old, who gave her only her first name, Siam.

A witness to the scene, Mathilde Cousin, confirmed the incident.

"The saddest thing was that people were shouting ‘go home’, some were applauding the police," The Guardian quoted her as saying. "Her daughter was crying."

Promenade des Anglais was the scene of 'Bastille Day' lorry attack on July 14 which resulted in 86 deaths.

According to city officials the burkini ban targets clothing that "overtly manifests adherence to a religion at a time when France and places of worship are the target of terrorist attacks". A total of 15 French towns have so far ruled against the garment.

The Nice Tribunal ruled on Monday that the ban in Villeneuve-Loubet was necessary to protect the community from possible public disorder and extremist sentiments.

The burkini was "liable to offend the religious convictions or (religious) non-convictions of other users of the beach," and "be felt as a defiance or a provocation exacerbating tensions felt by" the community, it added.

Burqinis are a rare sight on French beaches, where a small minority of Muslim women can be seen bathing in ordinary clothes and wearing headscarves.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Politicization of Haj ‘won’t be tolerated

The Kingdom has reiterated that attempts to politicize Haj will not be tolerated and that demonstrations will be prevented to ensure peace during the pilgrimage.
Col. Othman Al-Muhraj, director for public security, said that carrying out processions from any of the Haj sites is strictly prohibited.
“Anybody trying to create trouble will not be able to achieve their goals during Haj,” he said during a press conference, following the preparatory meeting of the Directorate General of the Public Security in Jeddah.

Al-Muhraj said that adequate security arrangements have been made for various stages of Haj to make it ideal.
“I want to tell pilgrims that we have received orders from our leadership and our country to serve you. We, as security personnel, are here to serve you,” he said.
Asked about attempts by Iran to politicize Haj, he said the leadership of the Kingdom has prohibited processions from any of the Haj sites.
“There are clear guidelines from the leadership to prevent it in any form. Troublemakers will not be able to achieve their goals as Haj is for worship and not for disturbances or for any act rejected by Islam.”
Meanwhile, a large numbers of pilgrims have already arrived and arrangements have been made at all sites for various stages of Haj.
The Ministry of Haj and Umrah has adopted a new approach for the Haj program, to be implemented in coordination with relevant authorities to make the pilgrimage smooth, comfortable and peaceful.
An executive plan, which would be monitored electronically, is in place. Surveillance cameras have been installed to track the movement of crowds, analyze the ground situation and record violations through mobile applications and technologies. Via —Arab News,

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Guard against contagious diseases

Health workers give oral polio vaccine to pilgrims arriving at Prince Muhammad Bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah. The Health Monitoring Center has tasked its 270-member team to take all precautionary measures against contagious diseases. The team checks health certificates of all pilgrims ensuring they have been vaccinated against meningitis. Ahmed Fahed Al-Enizi, chief health supervisor and head of the preventive medicine team at the airport, said the health staff vaccinate pilgrims arriving from countries infected with some diseases. Via —Saudi Gazette

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Executive plan for grouping of pilgrims OK’d

Minister of Haj and Umrah Muhammad Bantan has approved the executive plan for the grouping of pilgrims and forwarded it to Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Naif, who is the chairman of the Supreme Haj Committee, for final endorsement.

He said the first phase of the plan deals with grouping of the pilgrims to the Jamarat and to the stations of the Masher train.
“The plan has also approved the strategy of crowd management in Mina through cameras and electronic monitoring,” he explained.
Bantan said his ministry is keen to involve all government and private bodies including the tawafa establishments and the Haj companies in the smooth grouping of pilgrims to ensure their safety and comfort.
Meanwhile, about 600,000 pilgrims are expected to arrive in Madinah through Prince Muhammad Bin Abdul Aziz International Airport on board 2,561 flights from 39 countries. The airport has established a total of 90 counters to expedite the passport procedures of pilgrims.
Sufficient numbers of personnel along with equipment for fingerprinting are deployed to man the counters.
On the other hand, the Establishment for Guides has designed a special uniform for its 2,600 employees to make them easily recognizable for pilgrims who may need assistance. Via —Saudi Gazette

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Making Haj free from Zika, MERS

The Health Ministry will focus on the prevention of infectious diseases such as the MERS and Zika during Haj. The ministry will also be carefully monitoring diseases such as cerebral spinal fever, meningitis, yellow fever and polio among the incoming pilgrims, said an official. The ministry is focusing on educating pilgrims on personal hygiene such as drinking bottled water, washing hands with soap, using disposable shaving razors, abstaining from eating exposed foods and requesting them to keep away from scorching sun. The ministry is also distributing literature advising pilgrims on precautionary measures. Via —Arab News

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Syrian refugees create app to cut through German bureaucracy

As a Syrian migrant arriving in Berlin, Munzer Khattab could barely say a word in German, let alone fill out a pile of forms in the language.

So over the past year Khattab has not only learned German but also worked with five other Syrian refugees or asylum seekers to design a smartphone app to make forms less daunting.

The app, called "Bureaucrazy", to be launched in January, will translate various forms into Arabic and English for newcomers facing a pile of paperwork ranging from registering with authorities to opening a bank account.

It will also provide them with a map with Berlin offices that all newcomers need to navigate and deal with other questions about red tape that can leave asylum seekers in knots.

Khattab, 23, who fled his coastal hometown of Latakia last year to avoid military service in Syria, said the inspiration came as he ploughed through more than a dozen registration forms in German after arriving in Berlin.

"Even when we asked Germans they had problems understanding the forms," Khattab told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a telephone interview. "If the Germans found them unreadable, how could we [migrants] read them?"

The app's name stemmed from Khattab, whose first language is Arabic, being caught out mispronouncing the word 'bureaucracy'.

"Someone heard it and said 'Bureaucrazy? What did you say? That's a cool name'." said Khattab.

Khattab and his partners developed the app as part of a programme in computer-coding they are taking at ReDI, a Berlin non-profit school with a mission to integrate refugees.

It won a local software development contest and later drew praise at the Startup Europe tech conference earlier this year.

The developers believe it will help migrants fleeing violence and poverty, more than a million of which have entered Germany in the past year.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Muslim woman mistaken for terrorist sues Chicago officers

A young Muslim woman on Thursday sued Chicago police who mistakenly identified her briefly as a potential "lone wolf" terrorist as she was leaving a city subway station last year on the Fourth of July wearing a headscarf, face veil and carrying a backpack.

Itemid Al-Matar says officers violated her civil rights by pulling off her religious garb as they arrested her on subway station stairs, then strip-searched her later at a police station, according to the federal lawsuit filed in Chicago on her behalf.

"Several (officers) ran up the stairs and grabbed the Plaintiff and threw her down upon the stair landing, then pulling at her and ripping off her hijab." it says.

Security-camera video made public, shows several minutes of the arrest in the subway. Several officers can be seen pushing through a crowd on a stairway to reach Al-Matar, but soon move out of view of the camera.

The fact that Al-Matar was wearing a headscarf, known as a hijab, and the face veil, called a niqab, "was the impetus behind the actions" of the officers, the court filing alleges.

In a statement Thursday, Phil Robertson, a lawyer for the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and a co-counsel in the civil case, argued that "blatant xenophobia, Islamophobia, and racial profiling" underpinned the officers' actions.

A police report filed the night of the incident says officers had been "on high alert of terrorist activity" on the Fourth of July holiday when they spotted Al-Matar exhibiting what they believed was "suspicious behavior," including walking at "a brisk pace, in a determined manner."

It also says officers saw what they thought could be "incendiary devices" around her ankles and were also suspicious of her backpack, which was clutched to her chest.

"(Officers) believed that subject might be a lone wolf suicide bomber and decided to attempt to take subject into custody." it says.

A K-9 unit searched for explosive materials, the report says, "with negative results," while the objects strapped around arrestee's ankles" turned out to be "ankle weights".

But Al-Matar was still charged, including with obstructing justice after police accused her of resisting and refusing to comply with orders. She was acquitted on all charges at a state trial earlier this year.

Thursday's lawsuit names six officers and the city of Chicago as defendants, accusing them of excessive force, false arrest, violation of freedom of religious expression and malicious prosecution.

A police spokesman declined to comment specifically on the suit, saying the department doesn't comment on pending litigation. But police issued a brief written statement that says "officers work hard each day to investigate suspicious activity and fight crime and we strive to treat all individuals with the highest levels of dignity of respect.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Over 600,000 pilgrims to visit Madinah before Hajj

More than 600,000 pilgrims are expected to visit Madinah to pay homage to the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and pray at his mosque, according to Hatim Qadi, spokesman for the Ministry of Haj and Umrah.
He said the pilgrims started arriving in Madinah on Thursday. “On that day, 60 Haj flights landed at Prince Muhammad Bin Abdul Aziz International Airport in Madinah,” he added.
The spokesman said 14 lounges have been prepared at the airport to receive the pilgrims who will be served by 42 passport counters.
Qadi said all government and private establishments are geared to receive the pilgrims and provide them with the best services that will help them perform their acts of worship in peace and comfort.
He explained that nine establishments are providing services to the pilgrims. Representatives of six Tawafa establishments, the Unified Zamzam Office in Makkah, the Unified Office of Agents receive them on arrival at the entry points, in addition to the Establishment of Guides in Madinah.
Qadi said the number of pilgrims this year is expected to be similar to last year as the cut in the quota system is still being applied.
Since the 2013 Haj, the Saudi government has decided to enforce a reduction in the number of pilgrims permitted for each country under a quota system approved by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to allow expansion work at the Grand Mosque in Makkah.
The request to reduce the number of pilgrims from abroad by a fifth and from inside the country by half was approved by the OIC and the country’s religious leadership. The Supreme Judicial Council said the reduction in pilgrim numbers was legitimate to ensure safety while work was carried out to allow more pilgrims in future.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Haj and Umrah announced on Sunday that the electronic registration of domestic pilgrims is continuing smoothly after a delay of two days during which many pilgrims were not able to access the service.
The ministry said the fault in the system resulted from heavy pressure because a large number of people attempted to register at the same time.
The ministry said more than 30,000 pilgrims have registered so far. Via —Saudi Gazette

Monday, 8 August 2016

Kashmiris believe armed resistance is the only way,Hizbul Mujahideen chief

Supreme militant commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen Syed Salahuddin urged Pakistan on Sunday to find a peaceful solution to the ongoing violence in India-held Kashmir.

If a peaceful solution is not reached then Pakistan should consider cutting off diplomatic ties with India over the killing of Burhan Muzaffar Wani in Kashmir.

Speaking during a press conference at the Jamaat-i-Islami’s (JI) headquarters, Idara Noor-i-Haq, here Salahuddin, who is also the head of the Muttahida Jihad Council, said that the young commander’s killing gave “new meaning to the struggle for India-held Kashmir”.

Salahuddin spoke for the entire duration of the one-hour press conference, with members of the JI, including its Karachi emir Naeem-ur-Rahman, sitting next to him. The reporters were informed that Salahuddin had come on a short visit to Karachi from Muzaffarabad to “especially speak to the media”.

Reading from a piece of paper, Salahuddin said:“Today marks the 30th day of curfew in India-held Kashmir. The violence has claimed 65 lives so far and around 125 people are injured through the pellet guns used by the Indian troops.”

He said Pakistan was “morally bound” to help the Kashmiris at this time.

Pointing out the United Nations Security Council resolution on the accession of Kashmir, he said there were so far “18 such resolutions tabled by the UN on Kashmir which have been ignored by the international community”.

He added: “Any resistance by the Kashmiris in the face of the extreme violence perpetrated by the Indian troops will end up being the responsibility of the international community besides India.”

In light of the current discord in relations between India and Pakistan due to the wave of violence exacerbated by the killing of Wani in Kashmir, Salahuddin said that calling back ambassadors from India is the “best solution at the moment.”

The diplomatic relations between the two neighbouring countries turned bitter recently when Indian home minister Rajnath Singh left a South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) meeting amid a spat with his Pakistani counterpart, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan. During the meeting, the Indian home minister accused Pakistan of sponsoring terrorism which led Nisar to snub him during the luncheon thrown for the Saarc members.

Speaking about the recent turn of events, Salahuddin said he had “advised the government to not participate in the Saarc meeting; yet the government went ahead with it”.

However, he appreciated the protests in India and discussion on the Kashmir issue in Indian parliament. Specifically mentioning international writer Arundhati Roy, he said: “It is good to know that there are people, such as Arundhati Roy sahiba, who question the motives of their own state as well.”

Answering a question after the press conference was over, he said that Pakistan’s policy towards Kashmir “remains inconsistent” which gave strength to the Indian troops in the valley. Despite the “indecisiveness on Pakistan’s part”, he added that the Kashmiris were getting ready for “a decisive moment to take matters in their own hands. With the increasing violence, many Kashmiris believe that armed resistance is the only way to move through the chaos.”

Karachi emir of the JI Naeem-ur-Rahman said that Aug 15 would be commemorated as a ‘black day’ in which rallies would be taken out from Muzaffarabad to Chakothi, near the Wagah border crossing in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad.

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Pilgrims arrive in Jeddah and Madinah, get gifts under ‘We love you, oh Guests of God’ program

A rousing reception was accorded to the Guests of God as the first batches of pilgrims for this year’s Haj arrived on Thursday in Jeddah and Madinah from the Indian subcontinent. The first flight was from New Delhi that landed at Prince Muhammad International Airport in Madinah at 5 a.m., 40 minutes ahead of schedule. It was followed by a flight from Pakistan while the first flight which landed at the Haj Terminal of Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA) was from Dhaka, Bangladesh.

In Madinah, the pilgrims were received in the traditional Madinah style with roses and gifts as part of the program titled “We love you, oh Guests of God.” The Haj Ministry and other agencies had made elaborate arrangements to receive the pilgrims with the direct supervision of Madinah Emir Prince Faisal Bin Salman.

India’s Minister of State for External Affairs Gen. V. K. Singh (Retd.) and Indian Ambassador Ahmed Javed were among the senior Indian and Saudi officials who were present at the airport to welcome the pilgrims.
Officials from the Ministry of Haj, and Madinah Airport, including Ahmad Sharqawi, deputy general manager at Tibah Company for Airport Operations, as well as the top officials of the Indian Haj Mission such as Consul General Mohammed Noor Rahman Sheikh, Deputy Consul General and Haj Consul Shahid Alam were also present.

Speaking to reporters, Singh said: “I hope that everything will go well. I wish the pilgrims would have a memorable, safe, and spiritually fruitful Haj.” Singh praised the Saudi government’s great care and concern to improve the services and facilities for pilgrims. “The sincere services being extended by the government of Saudi Arabia to enable the pilgrims to perform their rituals in ease and comfort are highly commendable,” Singh, said while praising the strong and historic bilateral relations between the two countries.

Dr. Sajid Yousaffani, director general of the Pakistani Haj Mission, and other officials received the 320 pilgrims arriving from Karachi aboard a private airliner.

The total number of pilgrims from Pakistan are expected to be 143,370.
India’s Consul General Sheikh said that pilgrims expressed their joy over the warm reception accorded to them. “The pilgrims came out of the airport after completing all the procedures in less than an hour. Many pilgrims from New Delhi could not believe their eyes when they saw the Indian minister at the airport to receive them,” he said adding that all the arrangements are well in place in terms of the pilgrims’ accommodation, transportation and medical services.

There were 340 pilgrims on board the Air India flight. The pilgrims were accommodated at Mukhtara Al-Alamiyah Hotel near the Prophet’s Mosque.

A total of 1,690 Indian pilgrims on board seven flights — two each from New Delhi and Gaya, one each from Varanasi, Guwahati and Mangalore — arrived on Thursday. Haj flights from India will land in Madinah every day through Aug. 17 and from Aug. 21 pilgrims will start arriving in Jeddah, according to the consul general. A total of 136,020 Indians will perform Haj this year. Of these, 100,020 will perform the pilgrimage under the Central Haj Committee while 36,000 will come through private tour operators. It is expected that there is a five percent increase in the number of Haj flights arriving at the Madinah airport, with a total of 2,678, compared to last year.

Abdullah Al-Rimi, director general of KAIA, and Bangladesh Ambassador to the Kingdom Golam Moshi were among those who were present at the Jeddah Haj Terminal to receive the pilgrims from Bangladesh. There were 401 pilgrims on board Flight No. 1011 coming from Dhaka.

Speaking on the occasion, Al-Rimi said that the airport has been fully geared up to receive more than 850,000 pilgrims from all over the world.

More than 7,000 staffers, representing 27 government and private agencies, have been engaged in implementing the Haj operation plan during the 75-day Haj season. According to the plan, all the lounges of the Haj terminal will be converted into arrival lounges from Aug. 4 to Sept. 5 and departure lounges from Sept. 17 to Oct. 16. Via —Saudi Gazette

Malaysia's Islamic leaders urge Muslims to avoid playing Pokemon Go

Islamic leaders in Kuala Lumpur said on Friday that Muslims should avoid playing Pokemon Go because the popular mobile game was harmful and could “lead to gambling”.

Senior religious official Zulkifli Mohamad al-Bakri said the city's Islamic Legal Consultative Committee had taken into consideration top scholars' opinions on the cartoon creatures.

“Pokemon Go and all the Pokemon characters should be avoided as it can bring harm,” he was quoted as saying by the national news agency Bernama.

“The game promoted a search for power and deities with certain powers, which could lead to gambling.”

Pokemon Go is not yet available officially in Malaysia, but has been a huge hit in the more than 40 countries where it has been released.

Muslim-majority Malaysia has long practised a moderate form of Islam, but conservative attitudes are growing.

In July, Saudi Arabia's top clerical body revived a 2001 religious edict prohibiting Pokemon in response to public calls for guidance on the smartphone version of the game.

The original fatwa said the game was too much like gambling and that the concept of its characters appeared to be based on Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, which is rejected by Islam.

The viral game uses satellite locations, graphics and camera capabilities to overlay cartoon monsters on real-world settings, challenging players to capture and train the creatures for battles.

While Pokemon Go has been praised as a fun way to get people outdoors, it has also attracted safety warnings about not walking into oncoming traffic, straying into restricted areas, or becoming victims of crimes

Friday, 5 August 2016

پیرس میں مسلم جوڑے کو جہاز میں ’’اللہ‘‘ کہنے پر طیارے سے اتار دیا گیا

پاکستانی نژاد امریکی جوڑے کو غیرملکی ایئرلائن سے اس وقت اتار دیا گیا جب انہوں نے پسینہ آنے پر’’اللہ‘‘ کہہ دیا۔
فیصل علی اور نازیہ علی ڈیلٹا ایئرلائن کے ذریعے پیرس سے امریکی ریاست اوہائیو جانے کے لئے جہاز میں بیٹھے ہی تھے کہ اس دوران پسینہ آنے کی صورت میں فیصل علی نے جیسے ہی اللہ کہا تو جہاز کا عملہ مسلم جوڑے کو مشکوک نظروں سے دیکھنے لگا جس کے بعد کریو نے پائلٹ کو سارا ماجرا بتایا جس پر پائلٹ نے جوڑے کو جہاز سے اتارنے کی ہدایت کی اور جوڑے کو جہاز سے اتار دیا گیا۔
دوسری جانب پیرس میں تفتیش کے دوران مسلمان جوڑے کو کلئیر قرار دے دیا گیا تاہم تفتیشی ٹیم نے معذرت کرتے ہوئے جوڑے کو اگلی فلائٹ سے اوہائیو کے لئے روانہ کردیا جب کہ مسلم جوڑے کے ساتھ نازیبا رویہ کے خلاف کونسل آف امریکن اسلامک ریلیشن نے ایئرلائن کے خلاف درخواست جمع کرادی جس میں مطالبہ کیا گیا ہے کہ مسلم جوڑے کے ساتھ متعصبانہ رویہ اختیار کرنے پر ذمہ داروں کے خلاف کارروائی کی جائے۔

The first batch of Hajis from Pakistan, Bangladesh, South Africa and India arrived at Jeddah and Madinah airports on Wednesday and Thursday.

The first batch of Hajis from Pakistan, Bangladesh, South Africa and India arrived at Jeddah and Madinah airports on Wednesday and Thursday.
The Bangladeshi group of 401 Hajis, out of the expected 101,758 pilgrims, arrived in Jeddah on Thursday, while the Indian batch with 340 pilgrims of an anticipated 136,000 faithful arrived in Madinah.
The first flight carrying 328 Pakistani Hajis reached Madinah on Thursday. It was followed by another private airline’s jet with 320 pilgrims Thursday. They all were welcomed by the Pakistani Haj mission and Saudi officials.
At the Haj Terminal in Jeddah, the Bangladeshi pilgrims were received by Abdullah Muhammad Marghalani, director general of Haj in Jeddah, Mohammed Shahidul Karim, Bangladeshi consul general, and consulate officials.
The pilgrims were presented with gift packets containing prayer mats, flower bouquets and sweets.
Karim said the first batch comprised Hajis sent by the Bangladeshi government.
In Madinah, the first group of 340 Indian Hajis arrived early Thursday. They were received by V.K. Singh, visiting state minister of external affairs, Ambassador Ahmad Javed, Consul General Mohammed Noor Rahman Sheikh and Haj Consul Shahid Alam.
Sheikh said the pilgrims are being ferried from various Indian cities by Air India, Saudia, Flynas and SpiceJet.
On Wednesday, the first batch of 85 pilgrims from South Africa arrived in Jeddah. They were received by Shoayb Casoo, South African consul general, and Saudi officials.
Casoo said 2,000 Hajis will arrive.
This year, 143,000 Pakistani pilgrims will perform Haj — half of them under the government’s scheme and the rest through private tour operators.
This year PIA is operating flights from 10 cities in Pakistan — Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta, Faisalabad, Sialkot, Sukkur, Multan and Rahim Yar Khan.
A total of 40,000 Pakistani pilgrims will arrive in Madinah, and the rest will come to Jeddah. The Pakistani mission has hired 140 buildings to accommodate their pilgrims in Makkah, said Yousaffani. A medical mission with 450 doctors, and 1,000 guides and helpers is available to help pilgrims

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Pilgrims warned against visa fraud

Pilgrims warned against visa fraud
The Ministry of Haj and Umrah has warned prospective pilgrims against being duped by rumors on social media promoting Haj visas for sale.
The ministry stressed the need to use e-track, the ministry’s official method for issuing Haj visas.
The ministry said it monitors the number of pilgrims who have been issued Haj visas each day and keeps details of their arrival in the country.

It urged Haj affairs offices and service organizers to speed up procedures for issuing Haj visas.
The Haj Ministry said it was closely cooperating with official authorities monitoring fraudsters within the Kingdom and abroad who claim they can obtain Haj visas for prospective pilgrims abroad.
It appealed to those wishing to perform Haj to obtain the correct information from the ministry’s website.
Meanwhile, Secretary General of the Arab Organization for Red Crescent and Red Cross Saleh Al-Suhaibani said the organization was ready to obtain the high tech bracelets pilgrims will wear during the upcoming Haj.
The Kingdom has previously announced that it will introduce electronic identification bracelets for all pilgrims to Makkah starting this year as part of a safety drive a year after the annual pilgrimage suffered its deadliest disaster in a generation.
The technology is part of the organization’s latest project, Istijabah or “response”, which is a joint effort with Saudi Ascob Group.
Al-Suhaibani said rapid response authorities could make use of the bracelets under the project.
These authorities include the Ministry of Haj and Umrah for crowd management and Tawafa establishments, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, and international organizations working with refugees and migrants.
According to the organization, the project will become the first humanitarian relief database in the world.
Each bracelet has a special bar code, which functions according to online and offline systems.
This high-tech bracelet was tested successfully during the organization’s recent visit to some refugee camps and was found to save time, effort and money.
The bracelet is manufactured using environment and human-friendly materials and can resist harsh climatic conditions, including high temperatures.
The bracelet can be adapted to suit the data needs of the authority concerned.

Monday, 1 August 2016

Saudi's sub-zero Snow City the new hot ticket in Riyadh

Having to wear ski jackets in Riyadh is unheard of, but a new snow park in the Saudi capital has made them a must despite outside temperatures exceeding 45 Celsius.

Saudi women wearing the compulsory traditional abaya that covers the body from head to toe are now donning thermal coats and cosy boots as they sit on sledges to scoot down the slopes of “Snow City”.

Unusually in the ultra-conservative kingdom that applies strict segregation rules and where even restaurants have separate sections for “families” and single men, they are also joined by males.

The complex is a rarity in Saudi Arabia where there are only small-scale amusement parks for children, and where cinemas or theatres are not allowed.

Stretching over 5,000 square metres, the entertainment project does not have proper ski pistes as such, but its modest indoor slopes still manage to provide frosty fun in a country that is mostly desert and searing heat.

“I've never touched snow,” says Ali al-Ajmi, 40, who has never travelled out of the Arabian Peninsula.

Dozens of people throng the front counter to gain access to the play area which opened in mid-July after four years of construction work costing some 100 million riyals ($26.7 million).

Where's the sun?
Surprisingly, women currently represent the bulk of visitors in a country where they are subject to strict constraints, including a globally unique ban on driving.

One employee at Snow City said the centre's management initially faced the problem of not having enough boots for women as they had not expected females to represent more than 10 per cent of visitors.

In fact, women have so far exceeded 75pc of the numbers flocking to frolic in Alpine temperatures.

“There is privacy and we're enjoying our time here,” says one woman who identifies herself as Umm Ahmed, 37. “I like the place. It provides entertainment.”

The temperature inside is a cool -3 degrees Celsius.

“It's freezing,” chatters 14-year-old Abdulrahman Hamad after spending some 90 minutes playing in the snow.

A younger boy appears to feel the pinch of the freezing air even more, and suggests a novel way of countering it.

“It looks cloudy and feels very cold. Why don't they also put a sun in here?” asks four-year-old Salman.

The facility is not the first of its kind in the arid Gulf region.

The emirate of Dubai boasts an indoor ski resort that opened in 2005, featuring ski slopes complete with towbars and a chairlift.

Entertainment options
Saudi Arabia has long relied on religious tourism, attracting millions of the faithful for Haj and Umrah.

But with more than half of its population under the age of 25, the kingdom is also now pushing to provide more entertainment options for its residents, many of whom turn to neighbouring Bahrain or Dubai for leisure activities.

In April, the authorities launched an ambitious economic diversification plan to wean the kingdom off oil as the main revenue earner, with development of tourism and entertainment projects among other wide-ranging goals.

US company Six Flags Entertainment Corporation announced in June that it is holding talks with Saudi Arabia to build theme parks in the country.

On Snow City's Facebook page, many commentators have eagerly welcomed the new attraction.

“Turns out women are allowed in,” one Facebook user noted.

And in a comment reflecting some of the attitudes currently prevalent in Saudi Arabia, a woman asks: “Is there a day for ladies only?”


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