Saudi Arabia: Behind the Scenes of the Hajj

This may be putting the horse before the cart since we must first have Ramadan before Hajj, but I am writing this post in specific response to a query received.

“My question is about Hajj, my boyfriend mentioned, and I’ve heard a couple of his friends mention, his father and how he works for a month or so every year during hajj (they told me the name for it, i think it starts with M). Because of his family name, his father gets paid by the government every year to work during hajj and then when his father dies he and his brother will be paid by the government to do the work, or something like this. They tried to explain it to me but I didn’t really understand the link between family names, the government, how much they get paid and what their role during hajj actually is.”

I asked one of my Saudi friend’s who grew up in Makkah about this question and he gave a detailed response.

 

What he is referring to is about Mootwaf which is a business for taking care of the pilgrimage. In the past this was a free trade and anyone could engage in it as a business.  About 70 years ago it was regulated by the government issuing a license to the businesses. Fifty years ago or so the government regulated the trade even further to stop the amount of demand for these licenses by stopping issuing new ones all together.  So licenses remained only in families and passed to the children. Now 30 years ago the government came up with the ingenuous idea of having even more regulations by having full control of how services are provided to pilgrimage, so the pooled groups of the licensees into government controlled companies and the licensees started receiving salaries for the work. Hence Hajj services has become a socialized government run service instead of the thriving competitive business it used to be. My grand father from my mother side was a mutwaf who built a huge business by providing great service to pilgrims. Now the business is run by the government through these companies and my cousins are paid salary for their work instead of competing for it.

 

This website also provides additional information about the services of the mootwaf for those who wish to learn more.

Saudi Arabia: Who is Hamzah Jamjoom?

You may not immediately recognize the name of this young Saudi but most will have heard of the 3D film Imax Arabia.  Hamzah is a Saudi film maker and actually ended up as the star in his own film.

Hamzah got the idea of creating Imax Arabia after the negative impressions of Saudi Arabia following 9/11.  He wanted to show that all Saudis were NOT terrorists and that Saudi Arabia is a land of beauty and peace.

I had the pleasure of viewing Imax Arabia in 3D and enjoyed the film immensely.  It takes one through the different provinces of Saudi Arabia, its history and last but not least, its people.  Hamzah even brings the audience in to his own family home in Jeddah.

Imax Arabia is now more easily available for folks to view as it has been released on Netflix streaming so it can be watched at any time.

It is an American Bedu recommended film.

Saudi Arabia: Children Abandoned by a Saudi Father

 

The blog, Abandoned Children by their Saudi Father, recently published a consolidated post which identifies some of the children (with photos) who were abandoned by a Saudi father.  The respective mothers of these children would like the families to at least be aware that they have a Grandson, Granddaughter, cousin, nephew or niece in the United States.  The mothers value the importance of family and for their children to know of their heritage.

The children all come from Saudi men (boys?) with known and recognizable names within the Kingdom, such as Al-Harthy, Al-Asiri, Al-Rajhi and Qutub. 

I am writing this post to help facilitate the wishes of these mothers who want it to be known that they are raising these Saudi-fathered children in their respective countries on their own.

Most of these children are being raised as Muslims.  Each of the mothers are concerned about the medical history of the father’s family.  Each mother is now much more aware of Saudi culture and traditions than she was before entering into an intimate relationship with a Saudi.

Some of these mothers were asked by the Saudi father to abort their child.  Alhumdillallah they did not.   These children are innocent and were conceived during what was believed to be times of love.

As a mother and a grandmother myself, I think the families should be made aware that there is an innocent baby who is now part of their tribe.  At least let the families aware and then it is up to them whether there is an acknowledgement or a relationship with the child.  What has been done is done and now the focus should be on what is best for the child.

I urge others to help circulate this post so that the families in Saudi Arabia are aware that there are beautiful children deserving of Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and cousins!    

Saudi Arabia: Rise of Homeless

As this Arab News article extols, homelessness of Saudis is on the rise in the Kingdom and very noticeable in Makkah.  Many of the homeless were observed as mentally unstable.

The article attempts to uncover exactly which agencies are responsible for the plight of the homeless in the Kingdom.  While I applaud efforts for seeking governmental aid for the individuals, it does not need to stop there.

I see helping a homeless person to change their status in life as a great CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) project that many businesses and organizations could take on.  Simply providing food and clean clothes can make a homeless person feel better about themselves.

This would also be a good opportunity for school children to practice the art of giving.  I am not suggesting or condoning that anyone other than a professional should go near a homeless person who is suffering from a mental condition though.

Perhaps a homeless man who is not mentally ill could be given a job as a “tea boy” or something similar which does not require a large or specialized skill set.  This could be the start of independence and rebuilding a better life.

The article mentions that some of the homeless are not alone in that they have families but for whatever reason are estranged.  If a person’s family member is living on the streets and looking in garbage bins for food, shame on that family!  The article should have published the names of the families who have abandoned one of their own flesh and blood.  Shame on that family!!

Saudi Arabia: Is Too Much Emphasis Placed on the Commercialism of Makkah?

The Holy city of Makkah has already undergone a significant facelift with the construction of the Makkah clock tower as well as expansion of the Haram to accommodate more pilgrims.  Many Saudis would not recognize the Makkah of today as compared to the simplistic Makkah of the past.

Now Makkah is starting to become a high rise city like Jeddah.  What has remained of the old Makkah near the Haram is going to be razed and destroyed to make way for the new commercialized Makkah.

7000 properties are scheduled to be destroyed of which 4000 of the properties are residential housing.  These properties are to be destroyed for further expansion and accommodation of pilgrims.  But what about the people, the families, who are forced to give up their homes?  Yes; they will be compensated but monetary compensation does not necessarily make up for the memories and the proximity families enjoyed to the Haram.  Besides, it is not easy to relocate where there is no choice.  Even properties on the outer borders of Makkah are not cheap and have risen in cost over the years with the ongoing expansions. 

“Seasonal accommodation for pilgrims constituted about 70 percent of business for 35 to 40 percent of investors who were from outside Makkah.”  Is this fair to the old time residents of Makkah?  How truly necessary is further expansion?

Saudi Arabia: What is Makkah Like?

A non-Muslim will not be allowed to go inside the Haram boundaries of Makkah.  Therefore I’ve put together some videos that can give readers a glimpse of inside Makkah.

The first video is an individual driving around Makkah.  The video starts with the outskirts of Makkah which brought back many personal memories for me as I have family who live in one of the neighborhoods passed.  The driver then arrives into the city of Makkah.  The large busses which are seen are all busses for transporting pilgrims.

I’d also like to point out that one can clearly see from the video that Makkah is not a flat city built upon the desert.  Instead the area is quite hilly and mountainous in places.

The next video gives readers a tour of the malls of Makkah.  Not all of the malls are shown in this video but it gives an indication of the wide selection of shops and variety that is available in Makkah.  This video was taken during Hajj and readers will see many pilgrims with their shaved heads and wearing the traditional dress for hajj in this video.

This next video was taken last year during Ramadan at the Haram.  In addition to excellent footage of the Haram it also shows the Makkah clock tower.

During Ramadan Muslims observe the Taraweeh prayer.  This video is the Taraweeh prayer which was said at the Haram on the first night of Ramadan.  In Saudi Arabia if a Muslim is not in Makkah or does not go to a local mosque for the Taraweeh prayer, the prayer will be observed on television where it is broadcast live on Saudi Arabian television.  During Ramadan and especially the Taraweeh prayer more women will come to local mosques.

Taraweeh prayers are prayed in pairs of two and can be prayed in at least 20 raka‘āt according to the two major schools (Hanafis, Shafi’i) of Islam. Some believe that 8, 12 or 20 can be read. Malikis say that it is 36. Due to varying numbers, the number of prayers performed is broad in scope. This prayer is performed only during Ramadan of the Islamic calendar after Salāt of Isha’a. Muslims believe it is customary to attempt a khatm “complete recitation” of the Qur’an in Ramadan by reciting at least one juz’ per night in tarawih. Tarawih prayers are considered optional, not mandatory.

Saudi Arabia/Germany: Quotas Research on Ability to Reliably Receive Mail in the Kingdom From Abroad

American Bedu has been apprached by the German company, Quotas, for assistance in seeking individuals located in the Saudi cities of Riyadh, Jeddah and Makkah to assist in a pro-active survey on receipt of correspondence.  If you are interested and like to participate, the full details are provided in the paragraphs below.

 

International postal measurement Saudi Arabia

 

 

Dear Sir or Madam,

 

Quotas is a quality research company from Hamburg, Germany. For many years, our team has been carrying out domestic and international measurements of postal services on behalf of various postal operators e.g. Royal Mail, Post Danmark, Deutsche Post, La Poste France and Posta Slovenije.

 

Supported by worldwide 2,500 survey participants the results of our measurements are used to improve the quality of service for the benefit of all postal customers.

 

For a new project on behalf of the Universal Postal Union – the UPU – we are looking for panellists living in the following cities:

 

-      RIYADH

-      JEDDAH

-      MAKKAH

 

Your survey task:

 

  • You receive on average 3-4 test letters (with real stamps) per week, sent to your P.O. Box address
  • You enter all dates of receipt of your test mail on our website
  • You empty the P.O. Box on every possible delivery day

 

For your activity, you will receive a monthly reward of 20 USD. You can choose between:

 

  • an Amazon gift voucher (www.amazon.com)
  • or payment on a registered account with Moneybookers (www.moneybookers.com)
  • or we donate your award to the international humanitarian medical aid agency “Doctors without borders” (www.msf.org)

 

If you want to take part in this measurement, please kindly register on our website www.world-mail-panel.com (survey code “GMS- a.bedu”) or contact us by email at panel@quotas.de.

 

We are looking forward to your assistance!

 

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

 

Kind regards from Hamburg,

Your Quotas Team

 

 

*) More information about Quotas you will find on our website http://www.quotas.de

 

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