National News RoundUp
Umrah season ‘worth SR6b’
MAKKAH — The head of the transportation committee at the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry said this year’s Umrah season has provided a SR6 billion boost to the local economy.
Saad Al-Qurashi told Al-Watan daily that this figure includes accommodation, transport and food services.
“The average Umrah visitor spends about SR1,000 and Umrah pilgrims visiting Makkah spent at total of more than SR6 billion, which allowed for a very profitable Umrah season,” he said.
He pointed out this year’s Umrah season was very good and complaints have significantly declined from last year.
He noted five-star hotels in Makkah central area reported 100 percent occupancy rates, while accommodation around the central area had an average 60 percent occupancy rate.
“Umrah companies have become very experienced and can manage to avoid losses and deal with any obstacles they may face,” he said.
Ministry: Hosts responsible for guns brought to weddings
HAIL — The Ministry of Interior has said individuals renting wedding halls are responsible for any guns fired during events held in such premises, Al-Watan daily reported.
The ministry also said those individuals are responsible for notifying security bodies of any such shootings, especially as such incidents are becoming a trend.
Some satellite channels have aired video clips of firearms being fired at wedding parties, while some guests were exchanging firearms as presents.
The ministry stressed that security bodies should strictly deal with such incidents and detain violators in line with arms and ammunition laws.
The ministry further asked wedding hall owners to include an article in their contracts that hold renters responsible for any of their guests who carry or use firearms during wedding parties.
“Renters of wedding halls should immediately notify security bodies if a guest is carrying a firearm or in case of shots being fired, and signs should be posted to warn guests against carrying or using firearms,” the ministry said, quoted by Al-Watan.
Traditional celebratory gunfire during weddings, especially in tribal regions of the Kingdom, have resulted in many fatal accidents in the past.
In October 2012, more than 20 women and children died and dozens of others were injured when celebratory gunfire at a wedding in the Eastern Province brought down an electric cable causing a fire to break out.
A total of 23 people — mostly women — were electrocuted when bullets caused the high-voltage power line to fall on to a metal door.
According to local news reports sparks from the cable caused an electrical fire in a women’s only marquee at the wedding party in Ain Badr, near Abqaiq.
Hundreds of people are understood to have been inside the courtyard of the home in Ain Badr when the blaze broke out.
The tragedy — which left about 30 more guests injured — occurred less than a month after Saudi authorities banned the shooting of firearms at weddings, a popular tradition in tribal areas of the Kingdom.
Hajjar to review Haj preparations
MAKKAH — Haj Minister Bandar Al-Hajjar will next week start a field tour of all Tawafa (Haj guidance) establishments to review their operation plans for the Haj season, Makkah daily reported Tuesday.
The minister, who makes these field tours every year, is keen to check preparations well in advance to ensure the best of services for pilgrims. Hajjar had received in his office in Jeddah on Monday the heads of the Tawafa establishments and the members of the coordination council for domestic pilgrims.
He asked them to make every effort to ensure pilgrims are provided with consummate services that will enable them to perform their rites in peace and comfort.
The minister asked all the Mutawifeen (Haj guides) to work together to make the Haj season a success.
The heads of the Tawafa establishments praised the great facilities provided by the government of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah to pilgrims and visitors.
They cited in this connection the expansion of the Two Holy Mosques, the widening of the mataf (circumambulation area) in the Grand Mosque and numerous development projects in the holy sites of Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah.
Flirtatious women cause of rising harassment cases: Survey
JEDDAH — Deliberate flirtatious behavior by women is the main cause behind the rising number of harassment cases, according to a survey conducted by the King Abdulaziz Center for National Dialogue.
Faiz Shaflout, director of the center’s department of surveys, told local daily Al-Madinah that 85.5 percent of the sample, consisting of both genders, said women were opening themselves up to harassment.
They accused women of deliberately wearing revealing clothes and makeup with the intention of drawing men’s attention.
He said about 91 percent of those surveyed believed the lack of a religious deterrent was also among the reasons behind the rising sexual harassment incidents.
He did not specify the size of the sample but said they were mostly young men and women over 18.
Shaflout said about 67 percent of those surveyed also believed the absence of legislation to tackle sexual harassment was another reason why such offenses were on the rise.
They said that there were no discretionary punishments against harassers who target women.
Shaflout said about 80.6 percent of the sample were unanimous that the absence of social responsibility toward members of society has greatly contributed to the increase of sexual harassment cases.
Justice Ministry to link up with SAMA
RIYADH — The Ministry of Justice has begun a project to establish an electronic link with the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) to ensure court sentences are being implemented. Ministry of Justice spokesman Fahd Al-Bakran said the project is due to be launched next month to allow for the speedy execution of courts sentences, especially in civil cases involving alimony for divorced women and their children. He added current procedures are lengthy as they rely on numerous exchanges of letters between government departments, resulting in great delays in implementing court sentences and allowing litigants who have had verdicts issued against them to employ delaying tactics.
Ambulance driver faces probe
BURAIDAH — Qassim Health Affairs has referred an ambulance driver and a shift supervisor at King Fahd Specialist Hospital in Buraidah to investigation authorities for allegedly neglecting their duties. The directorate said a critically ill patient in the hospital required transportation to King Saud Medical City in Riyadh but the ambulance driver on duty was absent. This incident went viral on social media and the health directorate said it issued its statement to the public quickly to explain the incident and stop any incorrect reports from spreading.
Club to follow up women’s issues
TAIF — A Saudi woman has established, with the help of a number of female Shariah and law students, a judicial club to follow up issues facing women, including house workers, housewives or children at risk of abuse. The woman behind the idea, Salma Al-Talhi, said the club aims to follow up relevant cases at courts and educate society of their judicial rights. She said: “In its first meeting, the club discussed cases that require support and the factors that deprive women and children of their legal rights such as norms, traditions and ignorance, as well as signing documents without verifying the contents,” she said. She explained that the biggest problems facing women are in khula cases (where a woman asks for divorce by relinquishing her rights to dowry and alimony), noting that such cases are especially problematic because regulations stipulate such cases should be filed in courts where the husband resides.
‘Intensive care on wheels’ launched
TAIF — The Health Affairs Directorate in Taif has launched a new intensive care ambulance service to provide urgent medical services that could save patients’ lives. The head of the emergency and crisis management department at the directorate, Saeed Al-Zahrani, said the new ambulance is equipped with all medical equipment found in intensive care units. He said: “The new ambulance is equipped with a sterilization device, oxygen cylinders, power generator that can run the entire unit, cameras to monitor the outside perimeters of the ambulance, in addition to other equipment needed in disaster cases.” He noted that this is the second ambulance of its kind in Taif, in addition to 29 ambulances that are specially equipped.
Woman dies aboard flight bound for Cairo
JEDDAH — An Egyptian woman passenger died aboard a Saudi Arabian Airlines flight from Jeddah to Cairo on Monday just before landing when she developed complications resulting from her hepatic fibrosis condition.
Airport sources in Cairo said the control tower was notified by the pilot and an ambulance and a medical team were called before the plane landed. The quarantine doctor examined the passenger, who was 60, but found she was already dead.
Man found dead at home, suicide suspected
TABUK — Security bodies are investigating the death of a 32-year-old man who was found dead in his family’s house in the Al-Senaiyah neighborhood. Tabuk Police spokesman Lt. Col. Khalid Al-Ghabban said the Red Crescent notified police of the incident and forensics teams attended the house to investigate the case. They found the death was caused by a gunshot, but did not find any evidence a criminal act had occurred. The victim’s father said he did not suspect anybody in the death of his son, who is believed to have shot himself. Police confiscated the weapon and transported the body to the mortuary pending further investigations.
Motorist killed, 9 hurt in Khulais accident
AL-KAMEL, Makkah — One man was killed and nine others injured when their car overturned on Khulais-Kamil Road. Makkah Red Crescent spokesman Ali Al-Ghamdi said a citizen notified emergency services of the accident and a number of ambulances were dispatched to the site, including an air ambulance. Al-Ghamdi said paramedics found the victim already dead at the scene. He noted four survivors were transported to Khulais Hospital, two were taken to King Fahd Hospital in Jeddah, while three were provided first-aid on site and released. Traffic police were on site to direct traffic and investigate the accident.
Street brawl ends in death of Saudi
JEDDAH — A Saudi died after being stabbed in the chest in a brawl between four African nationals and six Saudis. Makkah Police spokesman Lt. Col. Ati Al-Qurashi said the brawl took place inside a house in Jeddah’s Al-Faisaliah district and that everyone involved in the violence were detained. He said investigations are still under way.