Connect with us

News

Muslims begin downsized Hajj pilgrimage amid coronavirus pandemic | News

Published

on


Hajj – the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca – has begun, but under dramatically different circumstances due to the coronavirus outbreak.

One of the five pillars of Islam, the Hajj is required for all Muslims who are physically or financially capable of undertaking it at least once in their lifetime and is usually one of the world’s largest religious gatherings.

But this year, only up to 10,000 people already residing in Saudi Arabia will participate in the five-day pilgrimage, a tiny fraction of the 2.5 million pilgrims from around the world that attended last year.

“There are no security-related concerns in this pilgrimage, but [downsizing] is to protect pilgrims from the danger of the pandemic,” said Khalid bin Qarar Al-Harbi, Saudi Arabia’s director of public security.

Pilgrims will be required to wear masks and observe physical distancing during a series of religious rites that are completed over five days in the holy city of Mecca and its surroundings in western Saudi Arabia.

Those selected to take part in the Hajj were subject to temperature checks and placed in a short quarantine ahead of the rites beginning on Wednesday.

State media showed health workers sanitising pilgrims’ luggage, and pilgrims reported being given electronic wristbands to allow authorities to monitor their whereabouts.

Workers, armed with brooms and disinfectant, were seen cleaning the area around the Kaaba, the structure at the centre of the Grand Mosque draped in gold-embroidered black cloth towards which Muslims around the world pray.

Touching or kissing the Kaaba, the holiest site in Islam, is banned this year. All pilgrims must also maintain a physical distance of 1.5 metres (five feet) during prayers.

Hajj authorities reported setting up multiple health facilities, mobile clinics and ambulances to cater to the pilgrims. The foreign press is barred from this year’s Hajj, usually a huge global media event, as the government tightens access to Mecca.

Saudi authorities initially said only some 1,000 pilgrims residing in the kingdom would be permitted to perform Hajj, but local media reports say as many as 10,000 will be allowed to take part.

Some 70 percent of the pilgrims are foreigners residing in Saudi Arabia, while the rest will be Saudi citizens, authorities said.

All worshippers had to undergo a coronavirus test before arriving in Mecca and will also have to quarantine after the pilgrimage as the number of cases in the kingdom nears 270,000 – one of the largest outbreaks in the Middle East.

They were given elaborate amenity kits that include sterilised pebbles for a stoning ritual, disinfectants, masks, a prayer rug and the “ihram”, a seamless white garment worn by pilgrims, according to a Hajj ministry programme document.

“I did not expect, among millions of Muslims, to be blessed with approval,” Emirati pilgrim Abdullah al-Kathiri said in a video released by the Saudi media ministry.

“It is an indescribable feeling… especially since it is my first pilgrimage.”

The Hajj ministry said non-Saudi residents of the kingdom from about 160 countries competed in the online selection process, but it did not say how many people applied.

Some disappointed applicants have complained that the government-run lottery was not clearly outlined and that no reason was given for their rejection.

SAUDI - RELIGION - HAJJ - HEALTH - VIRUS

The virus has also battered pilgrimage-reliant businesses that support hundreds of thousands of jobs in Mecca, from travel agents to street barbers and souvenir shops [AFP]

The government scaled back the pilgrimage because it could be a major source of contagion, but the move will deepen the kingdom’s economic slump, analysts say.

In normal times, it is estimated the pilgrimage contributes $12bn to Saudi Arabia’s gross domestic product (GDP) each year.

Already facing a sharp downturn in oil prices due to a collapse in global demand driven by coronavirus lockdowns, Saudi Arabia has instituted austerity measures, including the tripling of a value added tax and cuts to civil servants’ allowances.

The virus has also battered pilgrimage-reliant businesses that support hundreds of thousands of jobs in Mecca, from travel agents to street barbers and souvenir shops.

The International Monetary Fund expects the kingdom’s GDP for 2020 to contract by 6.8 percent as both the pandemic and slumping oil prices take a toll.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

News

Charles Mbire gains $1.2 million as stake in MTN Uganda rises above $51 million

Published

on

Ugandan businessman and MTN Uganda Chairman Charles Mbire has seen the market value of his stake in MTN Uganda surge above $51 million in just two days, as the share price in the leading teleco company increased by a single digit.

The single-digit bump in the share price caused the market value of Mbire’s stake to gain UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million) in less than two days.

The million-dollar increase in the value of his stake came after Uganda’s largest telecom company delivered the country’s largest-ever IPO through the listing of 22.4 billion ordinary shares on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE).

Upon completing the largest IPO in Uganda’s history, MTN Uganda raised a record UGX535 billion ($150.4 million) from the applications that it received for a total of 2.9 billion shares, including incentive shares.

As of press time, Dec. 7, shares in the company were trading at UGX204.95 ($0.0574), down six basis points from their opening price this morning.

Data gathered by Billionaires.Africa revealed that since the telecom company registered its shares on the Ugandan bourse on Mon., Dec. 6, its share price has increased by 2.5 percent from UGX200 ($0.056) to UGX204.95 ($0.0574) as of the time of writing, as retail investors sustained buying interest long after the public offering.

The increase in the company’s share price caused the market value of Mbire’s 3.98-percent stake to rise from UGX178.45 billion ($49.96 million) to UGX182.86 billion ($51.2 million).

In less than two days, his stake gained more than UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million).

In a statement after the successful listing of MTN Uganda’s shares, Mbire said the IPO shows the confidence that Ugandans and other investors have in the company, its brand and strategic intent.

“We commend all the regulators for their support in our work to become a USE-listed company and to comply in a timely manner with the listing provisions of the national telecommunications operators’ license,” he said.

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350 million (debt free).

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350. ( debt free).

He is into communications-revenue assurance-cement-distribution-oil services-real estate-oil exploration and logistics.

Source: Billionaires Africa

Continue Reading

News

2-year-old dies at Arua hospital as nurse demands Shs 210,000 bribe

Published

on

By


A two-year-old child died at Arua Regional Referral hospital after a nurse, Paul Wamala demanded a bribe amounting to Shs 210,000 before carrying out an operation. 

The incident happened on Saturday, after Aron Nabil, a two-year-old child was referred to the hospital for an operation after he was diagnosed with intestinal obstruction, a medical emergency caused by a blockage that keeps food or liquid from passing through the small intestine or large intestine.

According to the relatives of the child, Wamala allegedly asked them to initially give him Shs 30,000 to buy medicines to commence the procedure. He however returned shortly asking for an additional Shs 180,000 from the relatives.

Emily Adiru, a resident of Osu cell, in Bazar Ward, Central Division, and a relative of the child says although they paid money to Wamala, he abandoned the child without carrying out the operation. According to Adiru, Wamala later refunded Shs 200,000 through mobile money, after she threatened to report him to the police.

“They told us this boy needs an operation which was supposed to be done in the morning on Sunday at around 7 am. They took him inside there, some doctor came from the theatre, he called one of us and said, we should pay Shs 70,000 for buying medicine to start the operation. We paid the Shs 30,000 [but] after paying the Shs 30,000, after some minutes, the same man came and opened the door and called us again, and told us we should pay another Shs 100,000. We also paid the Shs 100,000 and we thought it is finished. We were outside there waiting for our patient to come out [but] then this man came back again and said we should pay another Shs 80,000,” said Adiru.

Although the operation was later carried out after a 7-hour delay, the child didn’t make it, and relatives attribute the death to negligence. Miria Ahmed, a concerned resident wonders why such incidents have persisted at the facility which is supposed to service the citizens.

“Is the problem the hospital, is it the management or it is the human resource that is the problem in the hospital? A small child like this you demand Shs 210,000 for the operation? Well, if the money was taken and the operation is done, I would say anything bad but this money was taken and the small boy was abandoned in the theatre,” she said. 

When contacted Wamala refused to comment on the allegations. Dr Gilbert Aniku, the acting hospital director says that the hospital will issue an official statement later since consultations about the matter are ongoing.

Arua City resident district commissioner, Alice Akello has condemned the actions of the nurse saying she has ordered his arrest so as to set an example to the rest. The case has been reported to Arua regional referral hospital police post under SD reference No:05/30/05/2022.



Source – observer.ug

Continue Reading

News

Mexican president’s Mayan Train dealt new legal setback | Tourism News

Published

on

By


Activists say the planned tourist train will harm the wildlife and natural features of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been dealt the latest setback to an ambitious plan to create a tourist train to connect the country’s southern Yucatan Peninsula.

On Monday, a judge indefinitely suspended construction on a portion of the project, known as the Mayan Train, saying the plans currently do not comply “with the proceedings of the environmental impact evaluation”.

The ruling follows a legal challenge by activists who said they were concerned the 60km (37 mile) portion of the train that would connect the resorts of Playa del Carmen and Tulum would adversely affect the area’s wildlife, as well as its caves and water-filled sinkholes known as cenotes.

The original plan for the disputed section was for an overpass over a highway, but the route was modified early this year to go through jungle at ground level.

The federal judge cited the “imminent danger” of causing “irreversible damage” to ecosystems, according to one of the plaintiffs, the non-governmental group Defending the Right to a Healthy Environment. In a statement, the group said that authorities had failed to carry out the necessary environmental impact studies before starting construction of the section.

Lopez Obrador had announced the ambitious project in 2018, with construction beginning in 2020. The roughly 1,500km (930 mile) cargo and passenger rail loop was presented as a cornerstone of a wider plan to develop the poorer states and remote towns throughout the about 181,000sq km (70,000sq mile) Yucatan Peninsula.

The railway is set to connect Caribbean beach resorts with Mayan archaeological ruins, with authorities aiming to complete the project by the end of 2023. The plan is estimated to cost about $16bn.

The project has split communities across the region, with some welcoming the economic development and connectivity it would bring. Others, including some local Indigenous communities, have challenged the project, saying it could not only disrupt the migratory routes of endangered species, including jaguars, tapirs and ocelots, but could also potentially damage centuries-old Mayan archaeological sites.

The National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism, the government agency overseeing the project, has said that it expects to “overcome” the latest challenge and that work should continue after an environmental impact statement is finalised. It said the Environment Ministry was currently reviewing its environmental application for the project.

For his part, Lopez Obrador has insisted the railway will not have a significant environmental effect and has accused activists of being infiltrated by “impostors”.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

Continue Reading

Trending