Flashes from the Muslim World


Defense ties with Middle East

India is deepening its defense ties with the Middle East, experts said, following a number ofrecent security engagements with Gulf countries. In the past few weeks alone, Indian forces have engaged with their counterparts in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Oman.

Security arrangements are also vital for India’s huge diaspora residing in the region. Nearly nine million Indians live and work in the Middle East, with some 3.4 million in the UAE and 2.5 million in Saudi Arabia and send back home about USD 80 billion in remittances every year. India needs peace and stability in that region for the welfare of the overseas Indians and its economy.


Struggles to Meet Hajj Quota

Bangladesh is struggling to meet its Hajj quota as the local currency continues to lose its value and skyrocketing airfare this season are making the journey impossible for many hopeful pilgrims.

This year, 127,000 Bangladeshi pilgrims can participate in the Hajj, a spiritual journey and one of the five pillars of Islam. The Hajj registration opened on 8thFebruary 2023, but, so far, only 32,000 people have applied. Authorities say the situation is unprecedented.

USD20Mn Saudi Hospital Ship

Five floating hospitals will ply the waterways of Bangladesh from June in a USD20 million Saudi-funded project to provide healthcare to impoverished communities. A third of the country is under water most of the time and many regions are accessible only by river.

Few of these rural areas have medical facilities and the five hospital-ships, all named after King Abdullah will save lives. The largest of the five vessels, King Abdullah Hospital 1, has an operating theater for general surgical operations. Each ship, supported by mobile clinics on land, will treat up to 350,000 people every month.


Tourism Finds New Ways

Sri  Lanka’s tourism is trying to cater more to visitors from the Middle East countries, with special initiatives already underway, officials and players said recently, as they seek to revive the crisis-hit country’s hospitality sector.

Tourism has traditionally been one of the key sources of Sri Lanka’s foreign reserves and, in 2018, earned USD4.4 billion, contributing 5.6% to the gross domestic product.


Introduction of Arabic into School Curriculum

A new bill filed in the Philippine Congress seeks to introduce the teaching of Arabic into the school curriculum to increase awareness of Muslim culture and traditions in the Southeast Asian country where a sizeable minority professes Islam.

Muslims constitute roughly 5% of the nearly 110 million predominantly Catholic population of the Philippines. Muslim communities live mostly on the island of Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago in the country’s south as well as in the central-western province of Palawan.


Seeks Deeper Ties with Saudi Arabia

Malaysia is looking forward to closer ties with Saudi Arabia, officials and experts have said after the Kingdom’s Hajj and Umrah Minister’s visit to Kuala Lumpur.

Islam is the official religion of Malaysia, and Muslims make up two thirds of its 34 million population. This year, about 31,600 of them will arrive in the Kingdom to perform the Hajj pilgrimage. Malaysians are now more and more interested to go to Saudi Arabia, not just for Umrah but also for leisure.


Traces Prophet Muhammad’s Hijrah route

A  Saudi athlete, adventurer and entrepreneur has completed an epic 500km-trek from Makkah to Madinah tracing Prophet Muhammad’s footsteps along the Hijrah route. Badr al-Shaibani traced and documented Prophet Muhammad’s historic journey to Madinah over a span of twelve days.

Al-Shaibani, who walked 40kms everyday, said that the expedition’s goal was to highlight  a journey that changed the course of history. The most remarkable feature of the expedition was the nightly stay in Cave Thawr, where the Prophet once took sanctuary.

Islamic Arts Biennale Receives Uzbek Treasures

The inaugural Islamic Arts Biennale at the Western Hajj Terminal in Jeddah is hosting an exhibition featuring a treasure trove of items from Uzbekistan.

The true gems of the installation are four pages from the eighth century Katta Langar Qur’an – one of the oldest manuscripts in the Islamic world – two of which were recently restored in partnership with specialists from the Louvre Museum in Paris, has one on public display for the first time.

Gayane Umerova, the Executive Director of Uzbekistan’s Art and Cultural Foundation said that Uzbekistan has a rich and complex history, a big part of which is deeply connected to the traditions of Islam. He further said that it is a great honor for us to present priceless exhibits from Uzbekistan at the Islamic Arts Biennale.

50 Contestants Qualify for Final Qur’an Contest

Fifty contestants from 23 countries across four continents have qualified for the finals of the international Qur’an recitation and Adhan competition to be aired on the OtrElkalam TV shows.

After having passed the electronic qualifying phases, the contestants are scheduled to appear for the finals in Riyadh before an arbitration committee during this holy month of Ramadan.

Signs USD400Mn Deals

Saudi Arabia and Ukraine have signed an agreement and a Memorandum of Understanding worth USD 400 million of aid to the European country.

The agreement includes a joint cooperation to provide humanitarian assistance to Ukraine worth USD100 million. The two parties also discussed regional and international issues and developments of common concern.

Received Arch Bishop of Vienna

Saudi Islamic Affairs Minister, Sheikh Abdullatifal-Asheikh, received Cardinal Christoph Schonbrunn, Archbishop of Vienna, who arrived with his accompanying delegation to Riyadh at the invitation of the Muslim World League.

They discussed common issues of concern, especially efforts to build bridges of cooperation and effective communication among leaders in confronting hatred and extremist ideas, as well as spreading tolerance and coexistence.

Cool Weather Expected this Ramadan

Residents of the Kingdom can look forward to a more comfortable, cooler Ramadan this year, compared with the long hours of fasting in the hot and humid weather of the past decade.

The Islamic calendar is based on the lunar cycle, with the start of each month determined by the sighting of the new moon. Since Ramadan falls in the spring season this year, some of the winter characteristics will be dominating the weather of Ramadan this year.

In 2030, Ramadan is expected to begin on 5thJanuary, 2030, and the second Ramadan of 2030 is expected to begin on 26thDecember,2030, meaning we will fast 36 days in 2030.

International Day to Combat Islamophobia

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) hosted a session to mark the first anniversary of the International Day to Combat Islamophobia. The UN General Assembly last year declared15thMarch as the International  Day to Combat Islamophobia, a decision praised by OIC.

The date also marks four years since the terrorist attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. The meeting was held during the 49th session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers, which concluded recently in Nouakchott,the capital of  Mauritania.


Mosques prepare for Ramadan

More than 11,000 mosques will be open for tahajjud prayer, and more than 6,000 for I’tikaf during the holy month of Ramadan. Tahajjud, also known as the ‘night prayer,’ is a voluntary prayer and not one of the five obligatory prayers required of Muslims.

I’tikaf is an Islamic practice of a period of staying in a mosque for a certain number of days during Ramadan, devoting oneself to worship and staying away from worldly affairs. It is also reported that there will be educational lessons after taraweeh prayers, in addition to evening lesson after the prayer. These are organized by the Imam of the mosque.


Revealed: Great Pyramid Chamber

Scientists using cosmic ray scanning technology have discovered a previously unknown, sealed chamber inside the 4,500-year-old Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. The secret corridor is on the northern side of the pyramid, which was the tomb of the Fourth Dynasty Pharoah, Khufa.

Nine meters long and two meters wide, it sits above the main entrance and is not accessible from outside. Archaeologists have speculated that it was created to redistribute the massive pyramid’s weight.

USD32 Annual Incentive for Mothers

To control population growth, the Egyptian government has announced an annual incentive of 1,000 Egyptian pounds (USD32) for married women aged 21 to 45 who have two children or fewer. They will receive the accumulated amount when they turn 45, provided they adhere to all project conditions and periodic follow-ups.

A woman’s right to claim any amount will be forfeited if she gives birth to a third child. Egypt ranked first in terms of population in the North Africa region, with 104.2 million, and third in the continent behind Nigeria and Ethiopia. The Cairo governorate ranks first in terms of population.


Global Outrage over Killing of Civilians

France, Germany, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) expressed grave concern at the violence against Palestinian civilians by Israeli troops and settlers.

The lack of punishment for Israel’s actions had encouraged it to continue carrying out crimes in Palestine, OIC Secretary-General, Hissein Brahim Taha, said. France’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that there was a risk that the situation in the West Bank could deteriorate out of control and called on all parties to avoid fueling the violence and to contribute to de-escalation.


Halal Export Powerhouse

Brazil, the world’s leading exporter of halal meat and poultry, is seeking to expand the range of food products it can export to the world’s 57 Muslim-majority nations, as well as Islamic communities in other countries.

The Halal Brazil project launched by the Arab-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Brazilian Trade and Investment promotion agency, known as Apex Brasil – aims to incentivize food and beverage companies in the country to obtain halal certification and export to the Muslim world.

Brazil’s exports to the Arab world were worth USD17.74bn in 2022. Exports to Saudi Arabia increased from USD2bn in2021 to 2.9bn in 2022. Exports to the UAE increased from 2.327bn in 2021 to USD3.3bn in 2022. Meat and poultry was the second biggest type of Halal export, worth USD3.164bn.


Paid a Visit to UK

Secretary-General of the Muslim World League, Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, attended several diplomatic meetings during his visit to the United Kingdom. He presided over the two-day Muslim Community Leadership Conference titled “Community, Solidarity and a Shared Human Future Under the Makkah Charter,” which was attended by more than 300 religious leaders from Europe.

Al Issa also gave a lecture at the British Defense Ministry Academy, in presence of British Military chiefs and international forces. The British Parliament held a reception for the MWL Chief in the Palace of West minister in London, hosted by Stephen Timms, President of the parliamentary environment committee. Al Issa met the British monarch, King Charles, the first official hosting of an Islamic leader at Buckingham Palace since the king acceded to the throne.



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