Flashes from the Muslim World
500 Meter Qur’an Copy Sets Record
When Mustafa Jameel began to study Arabic calligraphy in 2016, he practiced to improve his handwriting – an effort that, six years later, resulted in a record-winning Qur’anic manuscript, and stirred the young calligrapher’s hope to display it in the Middle East.
Born in Gurez Valley, in the northern Bandipora district of Indian administered Kashmir, Jameel completed his work earlier this year. In late May, the 27-year-old was registered by India’s Lincoln Book of Records in New Delhi for the “New World Record for the first time in the world to write the Holy Book on a 14.5 inch and 500 meter scroll paper.”
In Muslim societies, calligraphy is not only the art of properly forming written characters, known as Khatt (lines) in Arabic, it signifies “the art of the line.” This art has not only been written in Arabic, but also numerous other languages, that have adopted the same alphabet following the spread of Islam, including Persian, Urdu, Ottoman Turkish and even old Malay.
Jameel says that he finished the whole project in Delhi and it took seven months to finish and get the work laminated. After making headlines in India, Jameel’s dream is to show his work abroad, especially in the Middle East, where the art of Islamic calligraphy is known and recognized.
Bangladeshi Tailors Maser Stitch
When Mohammed Noor Alam arrived in Saudi Arabia in the late 1990s, little did he know that his job at a tailoring shop would turn him into a pioneer producer of bisht, a symbol of Arab identity, in his native Bangladesh.
The bisht, a flowing black, white or brown cloak trimmed with golden embroidery, has been worn by Arab men for centuries.
Alam, 51, learnt the craft of bisht as an apprentice to an Indian tailoring master in Dammam. After ten years, he returned to Bangladesh and, in 2010, opened his factory – Bisht al Noor Enterprise, in Bogura, about 200 kms north of the capital, Dhaka. His company sells the cloth mainly to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar.
OIC Calls to Support Rohingya People
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation has paid tribute to the government and people of Bangladesh for their efforts to provide protection, hospitality and assistance to the Rohingya refugees who have been living in Bangladesh for the past five years. Five years later, Rohingyas in Rakhine State still lack freedom of movement and other basic rights, such as access to adequate food, healthcare and education.
Seeks 2023 Haj Quota Increase
The country with the world’s most Muslims is set to discuss an increase in its quota for the Hajj pilgrimage next year with Saudi Minister of Hajj and Umrah, Tawfiq al-Rabiah, during his official visit in October, according to the Indonesian Religious Affairs Ministry.
One of Islam’s five pillars of faith, the Hajj, was restricted over pandemic fears to only 1,000 people living in Saudi Arabia in 2020. In 2021, the Kingdom limited the pilgrimage to 60,000 domestic participants, compared with the pre-pandemic 2.5 million.
Saudi Arabia welcomed more than one million pilgrims from abroad this year after lifting most of its COVID-19 curbs, with over 100,000 coming from Indonesia. Indonesia’s officials are hoping to get a Hajj quota increase next year and will discuss the matter when al-Rabiah visits Jakarta.
Coffee Exporters Eye Potential Market
Indonesian coffee producers are eyeing the potential of boosting exports to the Middle East, as they say interest from the region has risen in recent years.
Indonesia is the fourth largest coffee producing country in the world and Asia’s second biggest, accounting for about 7% of global coffee output.
In 2021, the Southeast Asian nation exported about 384 thousand metric tons worth almost USD850 million, according to the Central Statistics Agency.
Interest in Indonesian coffee has grown in the region because of global coffee trends and the rise of modern cafes across the world. Indonesian coffee is known for its full-bodied rich taste and long finish.
Inaugurated a Seminar
The Undersecretary of Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance, Sheikh Awwad bin Sebti al-Enezy, inaugurated a seminar for Imams and heads of Islamic centers in Thailand in Bangkok. The seminar was organized by the Ministry in cooperation with the Central Islamic Council, with the participation of 100 Imams and heads of Islamic Centers in Thailand.
The two sides discussed issues of mutual interest, particularly those related to cultural centers and ways to support them. The Thai minister confirmed his country’s keenness to enhance bilateral cooperation with Saudi Arabia in the cultural field and benefit form the Saudi ministry’s experiences.
600 Employees Supervise 210 Gates at Grand Mosque
More than 600 employees are being stationed at 210 gates at the Grand Mosque in Makkah to improve services provided to worshippers, the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques said recently. The head of the gates department at the Grand Mosque, Fahad al-Malaki, said employees at the gates ensure that pilgrims and worshippers do not bring luggage, food, and other prohibited items in to the mosque with them, ensuring that it is kept clean so that people can worship comfortably and safely.
Ka’aba Kiswa Maintenance
Maintenance work was recently carried out on the Ka’aba Kiswa in Makkah. The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, represented by the King Abdulaziz Complex for Manufacturing Ka’aba Kiswa and the General Administration for the Maintenance of the Kiswa, was concentrated on the cloth around the Rukum Yamani. Undersecretary-General of the Ka’aba Kiswa complex, Amjad bin Ayed al-Hazmi, said the repairs were part of year-round care and maintenance of the Ka’aba Kiswa.
Islamic Development Bank Approves USD1.2bn Aid
Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank has approved USD1.12 billion for financing development projects for various sectors in nine member countries, according to a statement. It also approved a grant worth USD1.79 million for a number of other projects including market access readiness in Yemen and special grants to Muslim communities in three non-member countries.
Qassim, Hail Mosques to be Restored
Old and dilapidated mosques in the Qassim and Hail regions are to be repaired as part of a major restoration project taking place throughout Saudi Arabia.
The second phase of the re-development initiative instigated by Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, will see historic and significant places of worship in the two provinces rejuvenated.
Al-Ruwaibah Mosque in Qassim is among those lined up for building works. In the south west of the Hail region, Faidat Athqab Mosque, one of the oldest in the Province will undergo redevelopment.
With USD1.1tn Investment, World’s Biggest Construction Site
Following the launch of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 in 2016, the Kingdom is on its way to becoming the world’s biggest construction site with a total investment of SR4.13 trillion (USD1.1 trillion) in infrastructure and real estate projects, according to global real-estate consultancy, Knight Frank.
The real estate firm projected that Riyadh’s population will reach 17 million by 2030, up from about 7.5 million today. The city has unveiled real estate projects worth USD104 billion since the Kingdom’s National Transformation Plan launch in 2016.
Vision 2030 has lit the embers of excitement across the Kingdom, and with NEOM (Neo-Mustaqbal, or the ‘New Future’) positioned as a crown jewel in the transformative plans, people are eager to be part of history.
65 Countries Import Dates during Unaizah Season
65 countries, including Arab states, have imported Saudi dates since the beginning of the Unaizah International dates season. The countries include Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, and the United States. Saudi date exports from the season have also been received for the first time this year in South Korea.
Discussed Topics of Common Interest
Saudi Shoura Council Speaker, Dr. Abdullah al-Asheikh, held talks in Muscat with Oman Shoura Council Speaker, Khalid bin Hilal bin Nasser al-Maawali. During the meeting, both reviewed topics of common interest between their brotherly countries in various fields, especially parliamentary relations between the two councils.
They also tackled ways to strengthen them at all levels. They discussed a number of topics related to the sixteenth periodic session of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member-states speakers of Shoura councils, councils of representatives, federal national councils, and national assemblies.
Tabuk Produces More than 150 tons of High Quality Figs Annually
Tabuk is one of the prominent regions in the Kingdom that significantly contributes toward the needs of the country by producing different types of agricultural crops on more than 14,500 farms over an area exceeding 270,000 hectares.
Every year, from July until October alone, farms in Tabuk harvest from more than 55,000 fig trees that produce about 150 tons of the fruit annually, the Saudi Press Agency reported. Overall, the Kingdom produces about 27,000 tons of figs annually and is 107% self-sufficient.
Regarding health aspect, fig fruit is rich in potassium, which reduces blood pressure and keeps the heart healthy. It also contains important fibers for the intestines and is rich in calcium, which keeps bones healthy and protects against osteoporosis.
Saudi Team Return Home with 24 Medals
Saudi team returned home to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia after collecting a record of 24 medals at the 5th Islamic Solidarity Games held in Konya, Turkey. They won two golds, twelve silver, and ten bronze medals. The previous record was eleven medals at the 2017 Islamic Solidarity Games in Baku. The competition saw the participation of 54 countries and 4,000 athletes. The Saudi team was placed fifteenth in the overall country standings.
Shows Sign of Strong Revival
Makkah and Madinah’s hotel occupancy rates have surged by 177% and 122% year on year, respectively, in the second quarter of 2022 after 23 million Umrah permits were issued in the first half of 2022, revealed a recent hotel industry report.
According to Colliers’ MENA Hotels Quarterly Report, Riyadh saw a 22% year-on-year increase in the second quarter of 2022 occupancy rates as COVID-19 restrictions eased over the past year.
Jeddah witnessed a 10% raise. In the UAE, Abdu Dhabi’s hotel occupancy rates saw the highest increase of 31%. Egypt also followed a similar trend. Cairo’s occupancy soared by 71%. Doha, which has been in the spotlight for the 2022 FIFA World Cup preparations, booked a 141% increase.
Hotels in Kuwait City, Muscat and Manama also saw an increase in their occupancy rates. Overall, the demand and supply prospects look promising as the entire region introduces new hotels, projects and initiatives for its tourism sector.
Floods Wreak Havoc in Sudan
King Salman has ordered an urgent airlift to provide relief to the flood victims in Sudan. The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center is transporting urgent food and shelter aid to those affected by floods.
The Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Hissein Brahim Taha, called on member states and humanitarian organizations to provide urgent aid to Sudan following the floods and torrential rains.
The Grand Imam at Egypt’s top religious authority was in Kazakhastan and led a delegation at an interfaith conference of the world’s religious leaders. Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayyeb, who is the most senior cleric at Al-Azhar met President Kassym-Jomrat Tokayev in the capital Nur-Sultan as part of preparations for the 7th Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions.
Participants discussed the role of religions in promoting spiritual and moral values in the modern world and coexistence between religions and cultures.
The Grand Imam, also visited in the Hazrat Sultan Mosque, the largest in Kazakhastan and among the largest in Asia.
Bolster Ties with Ten Investment Deals
Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan have signed over ten investment agreements, worth over SR 45 billion (USD12 billion), during a meeting of the Saudi-Uzbek Business Council in Jeddah. The agreements cover various sectors and include a number of deals between the Ministry of Investment and Foreign Trade of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
The mutual trade between Saudi Arabia and the Republic of Uzbekistan reached USD95 million in the first half of 2022. Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has become one of the largest foreign investors in Uzbekistan’s energy infrastructure.
Shared Values Key to World Peace
Without shared values, the world cannot live in peace, Dr. Mohammed al-Issa, Secretary-General of the Muslim World League, told a conference on inter religious dialogue in the Italian city of Rimini.
“We all want to live in peaceful societies and the only way to do this is to build bridges of understanding, accept differences and wish to do good without conflict,” added Al-Issa, who is also President of the International Islamic Halal Organization and a former Saudi justice minister.
“With shared values we build and give, do good, overcome challenges and defeat evil by living in justice, peace and harmony.”
Nearly 3,000 people attended the speech of Al-Issa, who is considered a leading global voice on moderate Islam and a key figure in efforts to combat extremist ideology.
[COMPILED BY: SYED NEHAL ZAHEER]