Will Indians be allowed for Umrah? Saudi MoH to decide

News Network
September 28, 2020

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Riyadh, Sept 28: Saleh Benten Muhammad, Saudi Arabia's Minister of Hajj and Umrah has announced that the Ministry of Health would take a decision on whether India and other countries will be allowed to send their pilgrims to perform Umrah.

The minister’s announcement follows an earlier statement by the Ministry of Interior saying that the Kingdom would allow foreign Umrah performers to enter the Kingdom in the third phase of the gradual resumption of the suspended Umrah service effective from Nov. 1.

In a television interview with Al-Ekhbariya channel, Benten said that there would be a special electronic path for the arrival and departure of foreign Hajj pilgrims for next year’s Hajj. Referring to the resumption of Umrah service for domestic pilgrims effective from Oct. 4, the minister said that only 12 groups of pilgrims would be allowed to perform Umrah within 24 hours in the first phase.

“The pilgrims will be divided into groups and each group will be accompanied by a health professional at the Haram. Only pilgrims with ages ranging between 18 and 65 years will be allowed in the first phase,” he said.

Benten revealed that there is no fee for issuance of Umrah permit. “No Umrah pilgrims will be allowed to enter the Grand Mosque in Makkah without completing the entry procedures through the mobile app “I’tamarana” and this is to ensure the health and safety of pilgrims,” he said, adding that alternative arrangement will be made if there is any technical snag for completing the procedures through the app.

Domestic pilgrims

Saudi citizens and expatriates as well as their families in the Kingdom are allowed to download the Umrah mobile application titled “I’tamarna,” effective from Sunday to register their names to perform Umrah pilgrimage as well as to visit and worship at the Two Holy Mosques.

The application is now available for users of iOS and Android operating systems on their smartphones seven days before the start of the first phase of the pilgrimage. The Ministry of Interior announced earlier the gradual resumption of Umrah and visits to the Two Holy Mosques with a limited number of pilgrims, starting from Oct. 4.

In the first phase, citizens and expatriates from within the Kingdom will be allowed to perform Umrah at a capacity of 30 percent from Oct. 4 that translates to 6,000 pilgrims per day and that is in compliance with the health precautionary measures of the Grand Mosque. The pilgrims will be allowed to perform the ritual in 12 groups, each consisting of 500 pilgrims in a day.

The registration of the data entered by the pilgrims and visitors to the Two Holy Mosques will be directly related to the application “Tawakkalna,” the official app launched by the Ministry of Health to prevent the spread of coronavirus. This step would consist of a number of procedures, including providing a guarantee that the pilgrim or visitor is free from coronavirus, the Ministry of Hajj said.

The app will enable the pilgrims and visitors to plan their pilgrimage and visit in advance, as well as to make reservation of optional services to perform their rituals in ease and comfort, in addition to ensuring the compliance of the health and precautionary measures and preventive protocols, approved by the Ministry of Health and other competent authorities, to stem the spread of coronavirus.

The Ministry of Hajj has developed the app in cooperation with the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA) to regulate the times of rituals of those wishing to visit Makkah and Madinah to perform Umrah and pray at the Two Holy Mosques.

Meanwhile, stores for Ihram clothing resumed business after a long interval of more than six months in Saudi Arabia prior to the partial resumption of the Umrah season from next Sunday. Ihram is one of the three pillars of Umrah, and it means entering the sacred state, during which certain things are prohibited. Men must wear two pieces of unstitched sheet of white cloth while women can wear their ordinary clothes.

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News Network
October 28,2020

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Riyadh, Oct 28: Saudi Arabia plans to cancel a foreign worker sponsorship system, known as kafala, and replace it with a new form of contract between employers and employees, the financial newspaper Maaal said on Tuesday, citing unnamed sources.

Saudi Arabia, which this year is chairing the Group of 20 major economies (G20), seeks to boost the private sector - and make it more attractive to foreign talent - under an ambitious plan to diversify its oil-based economy.

The kafala system, which Maaal said has been in place for seven decades in Saudi, generally binds a migrant worker to one employer. Rights groups criticise the system and say it leaves workers vulnerable to exploitation.

"The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development intends next week to announce a new initiative that improves the contractual relationship between employers and expatriate workers," the Maaal report said.

The initiative will be implemented in the first half of 2021, it added, without giving further details.

Currently more than 10 million foreign workers live in Saudi Arabia under the kafala system that requires them to be sponsored by a Saudi employer and be issued an exit/re-entry visa whenever they want to leave the country.

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News Network
October 21,2020

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Ballari, Oct 21: Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on Wednesday conducted an aerial survey of flood-affected areas in four districts of the state and said additional funds would be released after holding discussions with officials.

"Already funds have been allotted to the flood-affected districts and more will be released after holding a meeting with the officials," the Chief Minister said.

He was talking to reporters before boarding a special plane from Jindal Vijayanagar Airport here to conduct an aerial survey of Kalaburagi, Vijayapura, Raichur and Yadgir districts, to assess the damage caused by the heavy rains last week.

Yediyurappa was accompanied by Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai, Animal Husbandry Minister Prabhu Chauhan and the Commissioner of Karnataka Disaster Management Authority Manoj Rajan during the aerial survey.

River Bhima, a tributary of river Krishna that originates in Maharashtra, had wreaked havoc in Vijayapura, Kalaburagi, Yadgir and Raichur districts due to the torrential rain in the catchment areas for the past 10 days.

Yediyurappa said heavy rains and floods have caused inundation in several villages in Kalaburagi and Vijayapura districts, damaging crops and houses.

To a query, the chief minister said a central team would carry out an inspection after the state government submits the complete report, which may take at least four to five days.

He, however, maintained that the Prime Minister was aware of the prevailing situation and has assured him of assistance.

Later talking to reporters at Kalaburagi after the aerial survey, the Chief Minister said he cannot make any fresh announcements due to the model code of conduct in place in the state in the wake of MLC elections and bypolls to two assembly segments -- Sira in Tumakuru and Rajarajeshwari Nagar in Bengaluru urban district.

He said he has sought a detailed report from officials during a meeting with them and gave them necessary directions.

The Chief Minister said he has asked the officials to supply drinking water in Kalaburagi, the district headquarter town, as the water pipeline has been damaged.

"We will make sure that there is no water scarcity for which we will hire more tankers. Electricity and water will be restored and all the roads will be repaired.

All the other important services will be restored in the next few days," the Chief Minister said.

Yediyurappa said he had asked the officials to make sure that no communicable disease spreads in the flood-hit areas.

In addition to it, there should be adequate supply of food and medicines, in the relief camps, so that people do not go through any hardship.

When asked about the extent of damage, the Chief Minister said he has sought a detailed report, which may take at least three to four days.

However, he said, 43,000 people in 14 Taluks of the four flood-hit districts are affected.

Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai who was accompanying the Chief Minister, said a joint survey by the state government and Central government officials has to be conducted to assess the actual damage. 

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News Network
October 29,2020

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Bengaluru, Oct 29: The high court granted conditional bail to Mohammed Mansoor Khan, main accused in the multi-crore IMA ponzi scam of which money laundering is being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate.

He, however, will remain in jail as he is yet to get bail in the main case which is under CBI probe. Mansoor has been in judicial custody since August 1, 2019.

Mansoor had approached the HC after the trial court rejected his bail petition in the ED case a couple of months ago. He said he had come to India voluntarily, surrendered to police and cooperated with the investigation which is now complete. He claimed he has surrendered his passport as well.

Considering these facts, Justice Srinivas Harish Kumar allowed his bail petition on October 19. The judge directed Mansoor to furnish a bail bond for Rs 5 lakh and two sureties for like sum.

Mansoor has to regularly appear before the trial court till conclusion of trial and mark his attendance every fortnight at the office of Directorate of Enforcement, Bengaluru. The court stipulated that Mansoor should not alienate any of his properties till conclusion of trial and if the need arises, he should disclose the purpose to the trial court which in turn will impose conditions for it.

Mansoor claimed he has been suffering from hypertension for a long time. He's also suffering from a heart ailment and has been diagnosed with unstable angina coronary artery disease and 100% blockage. He's also suffering from spine degenerative spondylosis.

He claimed that if released on bail, he could get better treatment in a hospital of his choice.

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