Haramain railway main station in Makkah to cost SR3.2bn

April 9, 2012
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Makkah, April 9: The Haramain Railway’s main station in Makkah will cost SR3.2 billion, Transport Minister Jabara Al-Seraisry said yesterday after inspecting the progress of work at the station.


He said real estate property valued at more than SR600 million have been appropriated for the high-speed railway project linking the two holy cities of Makkah and Madinah via Jeddah.


The minister was given a presentation on the project and its various phases. “The project is progressing well in accordance with the plan, despite the difficulties in the land acquisition process,” he said.


“Our intention is to carry out this vital project without causing any harm to residents,” Al-Seraisry said.


The high-speed rail link will be completed in 2014 when passenger trains start running.


The main station in Makkah will be ready before that.


The minister said real estate owners would be given compensation for land and buildings if they posses valid deeds. “If they don’t have any deeds, the compensation will be only for the demolished buildings,” he added.


However, he emphasized all real estate owners would get suitable compensation. He said the ministry would ensure the project is of high quality.


Last month, Al-Seraisry inspected the railway station on King Abdul Aziz Street in Madinah.


Apart from the five stations originally planned for Jeddah city, King Abdul Aziz International Airport, King Abdullah Economic City in Rabigh, Makkah and Madinah, the railway will have an additional one at Abyar Ali in Madinah.


Crown Prince Naif, deputy premier and minister of interior, ordered Abyar Ali station because it is the location where many pilgrims change into their ihram before heading to Makkah for Haj or Umrah.


The government signed recently a SR30.815 billion contract with a Saudi-Spanish consortium for implementing Phase II of the project. When completed, the railway will represent a quantum leap in the Kingdom’s transport sector.


The final phase of the project include construction of railway tracks, installation of signals, telecommunications, electrification system, operational control center, procurement and manufacture of rolling stock, and maintenance of rolling stock and the entire infrastructure for a period of 12 years.


The Makkah-Madinah rail link is part of the major railway expansion project, which includes linking Jeddah with Riyadh and Dammam. The Haramain Railway is expected to carry more than 150,000 passengers daily during peak seasons, such as Haj and Umrah.


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News Network
September 15,2020

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Dubai, Sept 15: A 47-year-old Indian man, who stayed in the UAE without any documents for over 13 years, has been repatriated home after getting a waiver of half a million Dirhams (Rs 1,00,21,000) in visa dues, according to a media report on Tuesday.

Pothugonda Medi, a migrant labourer from Telangana, approached the Indian Consulate in Dubai after he lost his job following the coronavirus outbreak, the Gulf News reported.

"During the COVID-19 pandemic, he came to us as he could not find any odd jobs that he used to do earlier for his survival," Jithendra Negi, Consul, Labour and Consular, at the Indian Consulate, was quoted as saying by the paper.

Mr Pothugonda told the Indian mission that he had come to the Gulf on a visit visa in 2007, however his agent abandoned him soon after.

The agent had not returned Mr Medi's passport, the paper reported.

The mission found it difficult to assist Mr Medi as there were no documents to prove his citizenship.

The consulate sought the help of a charity group in Hyderabad to track down his family.

"With the support of social worker Sriniwas we managed to get the copies of his old ration card and election ID card from his native place. Some of the details that he gave were not matching, but still we could establish that he is an Indian," Mr Negi said.

After the consulate provided a free flight ticket to Mr Medi, the officials applied under the UAE government's visa expiration exemption scheme.

According to the scheme, expatriates whose visas have expired before March 1, 2020 can leave the country before November 17 without paying visa dues.

The General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs in Dubai has so far waived millions of dirhams in visa penalties.

The coronavirus has claimed the lives of 399 people with over 80,000 confirmed cases in the UAE so far.

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News Network
September 16,2020

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Palestinian resistance fighters in the Gaza Strip have traded strikes with the Israeli military as the signing of contentious normalization treaties between Tel Aviv and two Arab regimes provokes another flare-up in the blockaded territory.

Palestinian Arabic-language Ma’an news agency, citing local sources, reported that Israeli fighter jets and helicopters bombed a training base run by the Hamas resistance movement northwest of Beit Lahiya town early on Wednesday.

Eyewitnesses confirmed that huge explosions were heard in the northern Gaza Strip before the site caught fire.

The sources noted that Israeli warplanes carried out four air raids against the site, while three others were launched by choppers.

Later, Israeli jets targeted another Hamas-run site in an area located between Deir al-Balah city in the central Gaza Strip and Khan Yunis in the southern sector of the Palestinian enclave.

There were no immediate reports of casualties in either attack.

The raids came shortly after Palestinian resistance fighters in the Gaza Strip fired a barrage of rockets into the Israeli-occupied territories.

Reacting to the news of the fresh flareup, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that the overnight rocket fire was meant to undermine Israel's deals with Arab states.

"They want to prevent peace, they won't. We will hit everyone who tries to harm us, and we will extend a hand of peace to all who reach out to us to make peace," Netanyahu said in a statement

‘A message of resistance’

Following the Israeli warplanes’ latest bombardment of the enclave, Hamas issued a warning to the Tel Aviv regime.

"The occupation (Israel) will pay the price for any aggression against our people or resistance sites and the response will be direct," said the resistance group in a statement.

"We will increase and expand our response to the extent that the occupation persists in its aggression," Hamas added on Wednesday.

The Palestinian rockets triggered sirens in the cities of Ashkelon and Ashdod, potentially sending hundreds of thousands of Israelis rushing to bomb shelters just as Netanyahu was signing agreements at the White House with Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif al-Zayani.

Two people were reportedly injured and several more treated for shock after a rocket slammed into a street in Ashdod, according to Israeli media.

Palestinians, who seek an independent state in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, view the US-brokered deals as a betrayal of their cause.

Mohammad al-Hindi, a senior official with the Gaza-based Islamic Jihad resistance movement, said “the Gaza rockets are a message that this great vanity of the United States and Israel will be shattered by the Palestinians and that the final word is for those in the right.”

Hamas also said in a statement that the Palestinian nation “insists on continuing its struggle until it secures the return of all of its rights.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also protested the normalization deals with Israel, stating they will not foster peace in the Middle East as long as the United States and the Israeli regime do not recognize the rights of the Palestinian nation to establish an independent and sovereign state based on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital.

The Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli land, air and sea blockade since June 2007, after Hamas, which has vowed to resist Israeli occupation, won the elections and rose to power in the enclave.

Since imposing the siege, Israel has also waged three wholesale wars against Gaza, killing and wounding thousands of Palestinians in each.

The crippling blockade has caused a sharp decline in the standard of living as well as unprecedented levels of unemployment and unrelenting poverty in the strip.

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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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