NOVEMBER 2012 ISSUE 57 VOL 7
ISSUE 57 NOV 2012
PAGE 2 SAUDI AUSTRALIA BULLETIN
audi Arabia concluded probably its best and most safe hajj ever this week with nearly four million pilgrims performing their obligation. Even at least two babies were born during the most significant time of any Muslim. The success of this year’s hajj is due is due first and most to Allah and is in no small part to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah’s vision to implement strict security and safety measures and the Ministry of Health, which saw to it that there was no spread of contagious viruses or diseases. With around four million pilgrims gathering in such a small space, it’s truly remarkable that Saudi Arabia pulled off a relatively trouble-free hajj. Imagine how the hajj of 2012 compared to hajj of centuries past, even decades past. Yet with any large event, even one as sacred as hajj, there are people whose sole purpose is to exploit the poor and unsuspecting. And if we are honest with ourselves, we can sometimes see the worst come out of people. Yes, even Muslims. And we must recognize that there are opportunists among the faithful. Men and women who see not an opportunity to get closer to Allah, but closer to your pocketbook. Two mini bus drivers bragged this week to a Saudi Arabic language newspaper of the money they made during hajj. Their job was to transfer pilgrims from Mina to the Grand Mosque, a relatively short trip by bus. These fellas said they charged SR 200 for each passenger who rode inside the bus and SR 70 to SR 100 each to allow passengers to ride on the roof. Pilgrims, especially the elderly from Third World coun-
tries, spend 30 or 40 years saving their meager income to perform their once-in-a-lifetime hajj. They have no choice — especially if they are not accompanied by a son or daughter — but to bow to the mercy of people who see them as bundles of cash and not human beings. These two guys were perfectly happy to put people in danger by asking them to climb on the roof of mini bus for the trip to the mosque. Yet pilgrims can be thoughtless as well. The streets surrounding the Grand Mosque were littered with garbage as pilgrims simply tossed their waste to the ground in-
November 2012 Issue 57 Vol 7
SAUDI AUSTRALIA BULLETIN PAGE 3 “The success of this year’s hajj is due first and most to Allah and is due in no small part to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah’s vision to implement strict Hajj security and safety measures”
stead of taking the time to find a rubbish bin. Others relieved themselves in alleys and side streets when finding a public toilet was too inconvenient. Saudi Arabia opened its borders to pilgrims only to find that many of its guests couldn’t be bothered to show respect. At the Mashair Railway train station, thousands of illegal pilgrims rushed the trains, pushing aside people holding tickets to board the train without paying for it. In effect, they stole passage to perform their duty before God. It seems no one paused to consider the irony that they endangered the lives of their brothers and sisters, and then got to their destination illegally. But my anger is really directed at the exploiters who saw an opportunity to make an easy buck at the expense of the poor. While many pilgrims demonstrated un-Islamic behavior by trashing the country that welcomed them, there is no mistaking the thieves masquerading as benevolent helpers while picking the pockets of those same guests. Still, for every predator there are examples of good deeds performed. There was one Saudi woman who distributed expensive perfumes to pilgrims as they were leaving Makkah. Volunteers distributed free juice, water and even umbrellas to passing pilgrims from more than 160 countries. There were more than 20,000 women volunteering their time to ensure the guests of God were safe and relatively comfortable. There were the youngsters proudly wearing their Boy Scout uniforms volunteering their time and demonstrating their civic duties, and awareness and love for their country. There were two Turkish women who swept down the streets surrounding the Grand Mosque to rid the area of gar-
bage because they believed that all roads leading to the mosque should be kept clean. Perhaps one of the best examples of selfless duty to the pilgrims was the Saudi merchant who established in Makkah the largest kitchen in the world to serve the faithful. Every day during hajj his crew slaughtered thousands of lambs, brought in thousands of tons of fresh fruits and served millions of gallons of hot and cold drinks to pilgrims. His kitchen, Mabrat Alkhair — or Place of Charity — cost an estimated SR 80 million and covered 18,000 square meters. It was equipped with the most up-to-date cooking technology to provide healthy and delicious food. Each cooking pan was capable of accommodate 10 lambs at one time. The kitchen operated around the clock. The spirit and purpose of hajj was lost on some people, but those who abused the privilege of performing hajj were far outnumbered by the kindness and charity of individuals and the Saudi government that saw it a duty to serve humanity.
November 2012 Issue 57 Vol 7
ISSUE 57 NOV 2012
PAGE 4 SAUDI AUSTRALIA BULLETIN
he project is of great importance not only to the Saudi people, but to the entire Muslim world. Amidst the Saudi people’s celebrations of their national day, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz launched a beautiful project that is of great importance not only to the Saudi people, but to the entire Muslim world. The project in question is the largest ever expansion of the Prophet’s Mosque in history. In accordance with this operation, huge floor areas will be added to accommodate more visitors and worshippers within the mosque, increasing the seating capacity to over 1.5 million, in a measure aimed to keep pace with the rapidly increasing numbers of worshipers who visit the holy site every year. The expansion will be a clear example of excellence in design, equipment, materials and specifications, and it will meet all expected requirements, climatic fluctuations and seasonal pressures. First and foremost, it will take into consideration the convenience of the visitors, so that their visit becomes a truly spiritual and rewarding experience without any hassle or negativity. The project will go down in history as the largest, most significant and distinguished, owing to the new features being incorporated and the future requirements being taken into consideration in a remarkable manner. This bears testimony to Saudi Arabia’s exceptional care for the two Holy Mosques, with the continual expansions and renovations to serve the Hajj and Umra pilgrims, visitors and worshipers, and the continual advancements made by accommodating new ideas and proposals in this regard. Recent expansions of the Two Holy Mosques have incorporated new equipment that
reflects a qualitative transition in technology. For example, the central air conditioning system with a tremendous capacity to cool marble flooring, sound systems to smoothly amplify the calls to prayer, the quality of marble used for both pillars and floors, an umbrella mechanism that operates automatically to cope with the strong heat from the sun in open areas, dazzling light systems to illuminate the squares, and many other significant developments. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has spared no money or effort in caring for the two Holy Mosques, so that they can be an exceptional center of comfort for all visitors and worshipers. In fact, this represents Saudi Arabia’s most significant
4 November 2012 Issue 57 Vol 7
SAUDI AUSTRALIA BULLETIN PAGE 5
international accomplishment. It is no wonder that the official title of the Kingdom’s ruler is the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, a distinguished and unique privilege that makes the Saudi King different from any other ruler in the world. It is wonderful that King Abdullah’s practical approach in caring for his country’s holy sites is commensurate with his official title. The Saudi Binladin Group has the honor of carrying out the new project, in a step that reflects the admirable custom of supporting local Saudi entrepreneurs, so as to consolidate the country’s economy. The Saudi economy strives to care for the country’s major specialized companies in order to help them grow and develop, and this deserves credit. The Binladin Group has proved its worth par excellence, and has grown and become distinguished in many different sectors. This is largely due to the excellent management of engineer Bakr Bin Laden, who inherited his post from his brother Salem (may God rest his soul) and his father Mohammed before him, and now directs the company together with his brothers Yahya, Ahmed, Saleh and others who are all performing a key role. On his country’s national day, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz presented an exceptional gift to the Islamic world, and conveyed a message to the wider world at a time when many are preoccupied with a malicious anti-Islam film that is offensive to the Prophet. King Abdullah has presented this gift to reflect the stature of the Prophet in the hearts and minds of all Muslims, and to show how they hold him in high esteem. Timing is integral to the success of any idea or project, and so it was very wise for Saudi Arabia and its King to launch this vast expansion project at this particular moment. The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ wonderful project will go down in history as the accomplishment of someone who sincerely loved the Prophet. May God Almighty reward him and bless his work. The plan to expand the Prophet’s Mosque is a wonderful project with impeccable timing, and it deserves much praise and appreciation. November 2012 Issue 57 Vol 7
ISSUE 57 NOV 2012
PAGE 6 SAUDI AUSTRALIA BULLETIN
ustralia has been elected to serve as a non-permanent member on the United Nations Security Council for 2013 and 2014. For the next two years Australia will have a direct hand in shaping solutions to the world’s most pressing security challenges. Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Foreign Minister Bob Carr thanked Australia’s regional and global partners for the confidence they had shown in Australia and underlined that Australia would play a constructive role across the breadth of the Council’s peace and security agenda. Australia’s key priorities will include Afghanistan, Syria, Iran and North Korea. Australia will also work to ensure the effectiveness of UNSC sanctions regimes, including those targeting individuals associated with Al-Qaida. Ms Gillard and Senator Carr congratulated Luxembourg, South Korea, Argentina and Rwanda, which were also elected to serve as non-permanent members for 2013-14. The UN Security Council is at the core of the UN – it has primary responsibility in the global system for the maintenance of international peace and security. It has the power to make decisions that are binding on all UN Member States and to authorise coercive measures including sanctions and the use of force. The Security Council’s work matters to Australia – its decisions directly affect Australian personnel deployed under Security Council mandates, including in Afghanistan and East Timor. The Council oversees 15 peacekeeping operations (with 117,000 personnel deployed) and 13 political and peace-building missions across four continents. After the US, the UN has the largest number of troops deployed in the world. These deployments are authorised by the Security Council.
The Council also manages 13 sanctions regimes and eight subsidiary bodies covering topics such as weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, women and children and armed conflict, and women, peace and security. This will be Australia’s fifth term on the Security Council since joining the UN as a founding member in 1945. Australia held the first Presidency of the Security Council in 1946. It has been 27 years since Australia last served on the Council in 1985-86. Australia’s re-election to the Council for the 2013-14 term reflects Australia’s positive standing in global affairs and the significant contribution Australia makes to international peace and security. Australia is the 12th largest contributor to the UN regular and peacekeeping budgets and has deployed 65,000 personnel to over 50 UN and other peace and security operations since 1947, including in East Timor, Solomon Islands and Bougainville
November 2012 Issue 57 Vol 7
SAUDI AUSTRALIA BULLETIN PAGE 7
he Charge D’Affaires of the Saudi Embassy in Australia, H. E. Reda AlNuzha has patronized a graduation ceremony of 60 Saudi students on scholarships in Canberra , in the presence of the Deputy Saudi Cultural Attaché to Australia, Dr. Ibrahim al-Kurani , Saudi Embassy First Secretary Mr Maged Abdalkader Alkadi , The ceremony was also attended by the Director of the Saudi student club in Canberra Mr Faissal Otaibee ,Saudi students and their families. The Charge D’Affaires has congratulated the graduates from various universities in Canberra, emphasizing the importance of The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ Program for Foreign Scholarship for the progress and prosperity of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He said that the King Abdullah Scholarship Program
is a distinguished initiative which reflects the vision of the nation’s leadership and the fact that the development of citizens and country can only be achieved by education without compromising our cultural and ethical values. “Your real journey has just begun and your country is waiting for your return and services. Our Kingdom are waiting for you to come home and help in developing your beloved country and to apply what you have learned here. Mr Nuzha Said.
HAJJ : JOURNEY TO THE HEART OF ISLAM EXHIBITION OPENS ITS DOORS IN LONDON Following years of hard work and preparation, the “Hajj: Journey to the Heart of Islam” exhibition was unveiled at the British Museum in London . This represents one of the largest exhibitions to focus on the Islamic pilgrimage. Saudi Ambassador to the UK, Prince Mohammed Bin Nawaf Bin Abdulaziz, delivered a speech to journalists on the opening of the exhibition, saying “this exhibition grants the audience a glimpse of this journey undertaken by Muslims from across the world. In essence, Hajj is a spiritual journey, and it is the most important journey that a Muslim undertakes during his lifetime.” The Saudi ambassador was accompanied by General Supervisor of the King Abdulaziz Public
Library, Faisal Bin Abdulrahman Bin Muammar, British Museum Director Neil MacGregor and British Museum lead curator for the Islamic and Middle East department, Venetia Porter. Bin Muammar said “the British Museum has been able, as usual, to arrange the exhibition in an excellent manner that will allow the audience to get to know the sacred rites and feelings [of the hajj], and this is important for Muslims and non-Muslims.” He also revealed that “the participation of the King Abdulaziz Public Library here is very important” adding “we have fully cooperated with the British Museum to exhibit some pieces here, and also display the achievements and expansions that have been made in the Two Holy Mosques.”
7 November 2012 Issue 57 Vol 7
ISSUE 57 NOV 2012
PAGE 8 SAUDI AUSTRALIA BULLETIN
esearchers from Australia and Saudi Arabia launched a project which they hope will help them understand the genetic makeup of corals and how they react to climate change. Reefs around the world are under threat from bleaching due to climate change, as well as storms and predatory starfish, and scientists want to learn more about coral resilience to help head off further destruction. To help achieve this, they have launched an international sequencing project, Sea-quence, backed by Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto, which will explore the genomes of 10 coral species. It hopes to uncover core genetic data for Great Barrier Reef and Red Sea corals and use the information to help protect them from climate change. “Climate change places coral reefs at risk through warmer water temperatures and more acidic oceans,” said Great Barrier Reef Foundation chairman John Schubert. “Unfortunately our knowledge of coral resilience, their capacity to adapt and the circumstances under which they can adapt to climate change is limited. “Through Sea-quence we can start to bridge this critical knowledge gap by generating data on a wide scale across the Great Barrier Reef and the Red Sea.” Russell Reichelt, chairman of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, said that presently only two coral species in the world have had their DNA sequenced. “This research project will sequence the genomes of 10 coral species — providing five times the data currently available and identify which genes help corals adapt to climate change, and which species contain these genes,” he said. Last month, a key study found that the Great Barrier Reef — the world’s largest — had lost more than half
its coral cover in the past 27 years and warned it could halve again by 2022 if trends continued. The study said cyclone intensities were increasing as the world’s oceans warmed and bleaching deaths would “almost certainly increase” as a result of climate changes. Xabier Irigoyen, director of the Red Sea Research Center at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia, will be heading up the effort to sequence the Red Sea species. “Red Sea corals live in extreme conditions compared to those on the Great Barrier Reef and comparative information between these will enhance our understanding of how and why some corals are more resilient,” he said.
8 November 2012 Issue 57 Vol 7