RABAT: A traveling exhibition showcasing the life of the Prophet Muhammad and the history of Islam has been officially launched by the head of the Muslim World League.
Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, MWL secretary-general and chairman of the Muslim Scholars Association, made the announcement during an international gathering of leading religious and intellectual figures in Morocco.
He revealed that the first edition of the exhibition would open to guests on July 25 at the Islamic World Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization’s headquarters in the Moroccan capital Rabat with the full support of the north African country’s King Mohammed VI.
And he noted that ISESCO planned to make the display a permanent fixture, marking the historic contribution of Moroccan scholars toward recording the Prophet Muhammad’s sunnah and adding important Islamic content to museum displays in Madinah.
The touring exhibition will employ the latest technology and display techniques to document the Prophet Muhammad’s biography and Islamic civilization to Muslim and non-Muslim visitors.
Dr. Ahmed Ebadi, secretary-general of the Muhammadiyah League of Scholars in Morocco, pointed out that the hi-tech approach to presenting the exhibition was aimed at appealing to a modern digital audience, especially young people.
The director general of ISESCO, Dr. Salim Mohammed Al-Malik, praised the important strategic cooperation that had brought his organization together with the MWL, and the Muhammadiyah League of Scholars, and he thanked authorities in Rabat for hosting the first edition of the traveling exhibition.
The exhibition in Rabat will be presented in Arabic, English, and French and will have 10 sections employing technologies such as holographic imaging, virtual and augmented reality, interactive 3-D displays, stereoscopics, and educational panoramas.
MAKKAH: The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has announced that registration is now open for local pilgrims, citizens and residents wishing to perform Hajj this year. Applicants must be no older than 65 and must have a valid residency permit.
Registration opened on Friday, and the ministry said that priority will be given to those who have not previously performed Hajj and are fully immunized as per their status on the Tawakkalna application.
The ministry said that registration can be completed through the Eatmarna application, which allows pilgrims to review all available packages, or online at https://localhaj.haj.gov.sa. Online, pilgrims can create a list of preferred packages, choose from them, add companions and ensure that all their data, such as immunization status, is correct and that requirements are met.
The ministry called on all applicants to ensure the accuracy of the information they provide when registering their data and choosing packages, noting that if several individuals are registered in one application, the system deals with the group as a single application. If one of the parties does not meet the terms, the application will be canceled.
The ministry noted that all applications will be processed after the registration deadline expires, adding that all inquiries and suggestions can be sent via e-mail to [email protected], the number 920002814, or the Twitter account @MOHU around the clock.
Chairman of the Coordination Council Dr. Saed Al-Juhani told Arab News that 177 domestic companies catering to pilgrims are operating this year, providing a variety of services, including tents and electricity.
RIYADH: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) announced it had distributed more than 2,800 cartons of dates to needy families in Hiran District, Hajjah Governorate, Yemen, benefiting almost 17,000 individuals, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Friday.
The delivery came as an extension of the relief projects being provided by the Kingdom, represented by KSrelief, to Yemeni people to alleviate their suffering from an ongoing humanitarian crisis.
The center also announced on Friday it was supporting a nutrition project for children under the age of five, pregnant women and nursing mothers in the Yemeni governorates of Aden, Lahij, Taiz, Hodeidah, Hajjah and Marib.
RIYADH: The UK’s electronic visa waiver scheme is now available to Saudi citizens, Britain’s top envoy to the Kingdom said on Thursday, adding that the initiative would help to deepen economic and diplomatic ties between the two countries.
“Saudi nationals can now apply to travel to the UK (for tourism, business, study or medical treatment) for up to six months using the system,” British Ambassador Neil Crompton told Arab News.
“This is a wonderful moment which will strengthen ties between the two countries.”
The change to the UK visa system took effect on Thursday and is open to all Saudi citizens. The online process is “quick, very straightforward (and) not expensive,” the envoy said.
“It’s a big improvement in our service, which is consistent with the desire of both our governments to improve the bilateral relationship, and in particular to increase the people-to-people links between our two countries. It’s very exciting news, and we look forward to seeing more Saudis in the UK,” he added.
Crompton said on Twitter that people wishing to apply for an EVW should do so via the UK government’s website (gov.uk/get-electronic-visa-waiver). The cost is £30 ($38) and applications can be made between 48 hours and three months in advance of travel.
Once approval has been granted, which can take up to 24 hours, people can download their EVW for presentation at the airport check-in desk. Changes to the document can be made up to 48 hours ahead of travel.
Afnan Ahmed, a frequent Saudi visitor to the UK, said the new system would be a boon for travelers.
“In the past it was not easy,” he told Arab News. “I applied for a visa in December 2021 and had to wait for three months to get approval. I live in Madinah and had to go all the way to Jeddah to do the biometrics. It cost me about SR3,000 ($800) plus a train ticket.
“So having a simple, fast and inexpensive online system for Saudis is really good news for me. It will make traveling to the UK much easier.”
Meanwhile, the UK Embassy in Riyadh on Wednesday night celebrated the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II ahead of similar festivities around the world.
Elizabeth was just 25 when she acceded to the throne on February 6, 1952 on the death of her father, King George VI. Her coronation the following year was attended by the late Saudi King Fahd, who was making his first official state visit, even before he had become crown prince.
The embassy marked the 70-year anniversary by highlighting the long-standing relationship between the monarchies of the UK and Saudi Arabia. On a colorful night, the flags of the two countries flew over the embassy as hundreds of foreign dignitaries, diplomats and members of British and Saudi society gathered together.
“We are here tonight for a special occasion of the Platinum Jubilee. She has been an example to us all,” Crompton said of the queen.
“Saudi Arabia and the UK share a very cordial relationship,” he added. “The KSA has so many exciting things going on, and it’s a fantastic time for the bilateral relationship. So many people are going to new economic projects, cultural projects, education projects and working together. So I think the future is very exciting for us.”
JEDDAH: A dream come true for many anime fans in the Kingdom, on May 19 City Walk in Jeddah opened its last zone, Anime Village, the first of its kind in the Middle East. The zone will be open until the end of June.
Anime Village offers a variety of activities like cinematic shows, musical performances, manga artist meetups, interviews with creators, parades and much more.
The zone has several areas inspired by iconic anime series such as “Attack on Titan,” “Naruto,” “Captain Tsubasa” and “Gundam.”
The biggest attraction is Konoha Village, which features the main set of the popular anime “Naruto,” including life-size figures of the show’s characters and a little museum displaying items and images from famous scenes in the anime.
The second biggest area is the Animaze, where visitors can walk through a maze while reading about famous anime series, including “Hunter x Hunter,” “Ghost in the Shell,” “My Hero Academy,” “Demon Slayer,” “Bleach” and “Jujutsu Kaisen.” Visitors can take pictures with their favorite characters displayed in the maze.
There is also a PAC-Man arcade, Japanese restaurant Kimono, a Hello Kitty store and Japanese anime store Animate, the first to open in the Middle East.
• Anime Village offers a variety of activities like cinematic shows, musical performances, manga artist meetups, interviews with creators, parades and much more.
• The zone has several areas inspired by iconic anime series such as ‘Attack on Titan,’ ‘Naruto,’ ‘Captain Tsubasa’ and ‘Gundam.’
• The biggest attraction is Konoha Village, which features the main set of the popular anime ‘Naruto,’ including life-size figures of the show’s characters and a little museum displaying items and images from famous scenes in the anime.
The comic books store belongs to Saudi manga magazine “Manga Arabia.” Besides distributing and promoting local manga magazines, the store offers a photoshoot booth, name cards written in Japanese, festive makeup and a coloring corner for children.
In other areas dedicated to anime and manga series like “Attack On Titan,” “Godzilla,” “Captain Tsubasa,” and “Gundam,” visitors can enjoy virtual reality games and take photos with their favorite characters.
The village kicked off its grand opening with a show by Saudi YouTubers, the “Anime Icons Show,” also known as “Ai Show,” followed by a cosplay parade, a Rasha Rizk concert and a screening of “Jujutsu Kaisen.”
The second day offered a live interview and meet-and-greet with Miyako Cojima, the author of the most famous Japanese horror stories, and her husband Norman England, a director, actor, horror story author and the leading authority on “Godzilla.”
The Japanese singer Eir Aoi held her first concert in the Kingdom and became the first Japanese artist to perform in Saudi Arabia. She shared her experience on Twitter, writing: “There were a lot of anime booths and people who love Japanese anime, and many people cosplaying! Thanks Saudi for giving me the best time.”
At the end of the grand opening, the village invited Cojima and England on the stage again and held a cosplaying parade. Rizk performed on stage for the last time and threw a show with DJ Nariman.
Speaking to Arab News about their experiences in the Kingdom, England said. “We love Saudi! Everyone is so nice.” He also shared a story about the friendliness of the people he encountered at the Red Sea Mall.
Cojima said that she did not expect people in the region to have such an interest in manga and that her short trip to the Kingdom proved her wrong.
“It has been only two days for me here, and the vibe of Saudi culture is very impactful, and I could sense that in the local manga that they have created with Manga Arabia.”
JEDDAH: An old, traditional wall clock ticking at the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah for over 70 years shows a different time. It is adjusted daily to match the correct time of the day.
The old clock works as per the sunset timing system, which means that as soon as the sun sets, the clock strikes 12. This ancient system holds religious importance as people in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East believe that the new day starts soon after sunset.
According to Dr. Abdullah Al-Misnid, former climate professor at Qassim University, the sunset timing system was introduced so people could adjust their watches daily to read 12 at sunset. “That was the time for the sunset prayer (Maghrib), and the night prayer (Isha) was called for at 1:30,” Al-Misnid explained in a tweet.
Majed Al-Majed, a social media influencer, explained that the Islamic day begins at sunset. Thus, the Tarawih prayers during Ramadan are performed the evening before the fast begins.
“With the sunset of that day, the 0 hour (12:00) starts. An hour later, it (becomes) 01:00 and so on and so forth. Whenever people heard the call for the sunset prayer, people in Saudi Arabia, and like many others in the Middle East, would immediately set their watches at 12:00,” he said.
However, the traditional timings contradicted international timing, making it difficult for people to communicate with others from different parts of the world, Al-Majed explained. Different cities within Saudi Arabia also had different timings.
Therefore, Saudi Arabia adopted the Coordinated Universal Time, the primary standard by which the world regulates clocks and time.
“In 1964, King Faisal decided to change the traditional timing to the universal timing, which we are using nowadays. Saudi Radio was the first government body to put the decision into practice as its programs started to be announced according to the universal timing,” Al-Majed said.
He added that the decision, as is always the case, was met with both public backlash and full support. “With time, people began to accept the situation,” he said.
At the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, the old clock still shows the times of the five daily prayers according to the age-old sunset system.
Some sources claim that the first clock at the Prophet’s Mosque was installed on one of the mosque’s walls in 1833 during the reign of the 30th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Mahmud II, 26 years before the bells of Big Ben could be heard.
The sunset timing system was also used in parts of East Asia and Eastern Europe that were under Ottoman control in that period.
Contributing to Aramco World Magazine in 1969, Elias Antar, an Egyptian-born correspondent for the Associated Press in Beirut, wrote that the sunset system was the traditional method of telling time in Saudi Arabia.
According to the Guinness World Records, the world’s oldest surviving working clock is the faceless clock dating back to 1386, or possibly earlier, at Salisbury Cathedral, Wiltshire, UK. It was restored in 1956, having struck the hours for 498 years and ticked more than 500 million times.