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October 01, 2006

Jamrat Bridge to Be Ready Before Forthcoming Haj

P.K. Abdul Ghafour, Arab News — Saturday, 30, September, 2006 (08, Ramadhan, 1427) JEDDAH, 30 September 2006 — The first phase of the new Jamrat expansion project in Mina will be completed by the beginning of December ahead of the next Haj season, according to Habeeb Zainul Abideen, deputy minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs. “We have already completed 70 percent of the first phase. God willing, the remaining part will be ready within the next 65 days,” the minister said, adding that about 10,000 people have been working round the clock to finish the project on time. The SR4.2-billion ($1.12-billion) project was designed by the government as part of its efforts to avoid stampedes and crowding in the Jamrat area. In the past, hundreds of pilgrims have died performing the stoning ritual with 360 pilgrims losing their lives as a result of a massive stampede on the last day of the Haj last year. Speaking about the progress of work at Jamrat, an engineer said work on two underpasses named after King Faisal and Al-Jowhara have been completed. The underpasses will be used for vehicle movement. About 80 percent of the basement, which will be used for collecting stones, disposing wastes and parking ambulances, is also ready, the engineer said. The ground and first floors of the new Jamrat facility will be completed before Haj, which is scheduled to start on Dec. 29. The Saudi Binladin Group, which won the contract last year, has set up a huge factory in Bahra on an area of 450,000 square meters to supply concrete blocks required for the project. The new facility includes two helipads, which will help in the speedy evacuation of casualties in case of accidents. The new structure will have 10 entrances and 12 exits distributed over the four levels plus the ground floor to accommodate pilgrims coming from different directions. The ground and first floor will be used by pilgrims coming from the east of Mina, who account for the bulk of the crowd. The second level will be used mainly by pilgrims coming from the direction of Makkah, the third level by those coming from the north of Mina and new pilgrim camps and the fourth level by pilgrims coming from the south of Makkah via King Abdul Aziz Road. ------------------------- Fair Use Notice This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. (See: If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Muslimah Writers Alliance Director Welcomes news of Saudi Reversal to Eliminate Women's Prayer Area

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Muslimah Writers Alliance Director Welcomes News of Saudi Reversal to Eliminate Women's Prayer Area  

WASHINGTON, D.C. - September 12, 2006 (MWANET) On Monday, September 11, 2006, just eleven days after the Muslimah Writers Alliance Grand Mosque Equal Access for Women Project and online petition were launched, news sources reported deputy head of Grand Mosque affairs, Mohammed bin Nasser al-Khozayem, as saying, 'The presidency (committee) [has] decided to adopt a second proposal, which is to expand two special places for women's prayer, in addition to the one that already exists.' 

Despite reports from Jeddah suggesting that this was all a 'misunderstanding', let us be reminded that the controversy began with the reported words of a member of King Abdullah's committee of scholars, namely, Osama al-Bar, head of the Institute for Haj Research. Al-Bar was quoted as saying, "The area is very small and so crowded. So we decided to get women out of the sahn [Kaaba area] to a better place where they can see the Kaaba and have more space. Some women thought it wasn't good, but from our point of view it will be better for them ... We can sit with them and explain to them what the decision is." 

That report concluded with the statement, "The decision is not final, and could be reversed." 

"In my capacity as Founder and Director of Muslimah Writers Alliance, I made the decision to rise to the challenge presented and lent MWA's voice to those of our sisters in Saudi Arabia." 

Continuing Ms. Schwartz stated: "To that end, let us give all thanks and praise to God Almighty for facilitating our efforts. In embracing the news of the Saudi's reversal of the prior decision to remove the sister's prayer area from within the mataaf (circumambulation area around the Holy Kaaba), may we be eternally mindful of the power a good intention. And let the naysayers take heed in their complacency. Whatever efforts we make, however great or small, are never a waste of time. 

"Had we not collectively made an effort to save the women's prayer area, how many more tears would have been shed as the Saudi government slowly implemented its prior decision? 

"Let us be mindful that it is written in the Holy Qur'an (translation of the meaning) that God will not change our condition(s) until we change what is within ourselves. 

"To those supporting the Grand Mosque Equal Access for Women online petition, may God Almighty reward your efforts in this life and the next, God willing. 

"And to King Abdullah; you must know that Muslim women worldwide will never forget that you allowed their voices to be heard; and that you listened. I also personally thank you. I understand your first year as King has brought about many praiseworthy accomplishments. Having spent a year in your Kingdom during 2004-05, I had the opportunity to visit Makkah, Madinah, Taif, Jeddah, and Riyadh. I left behind many wonderful new friends and a treasure chest of memories, many of which I have documented through my writings. It is my prayer to return to the Kingdom one day. 

"King Abdullah, you have the power to bring Saudi Arabia forward in new and positive directions, and it is my added prayer that you continue to follow God's guidance," Ms. Schwartz concluded.
See Also: Women Welcome Rejection of Haram Prayer Proposal Razan Baker, Arab News JEDDAH, 12 September 2006 Women’s Petition Opposes Grand Mosque Plans Razan Baker, Arab News JEDDAH, 11 September 2006 Saudi Clerics Backtrack on Mecca Women Prayer Ban RIYADH (Reuters) - Sept. 11, 2006 Saudi Officials Consider Banning Women From Praying at Shrine of Mecca, Raising Protests By DONNA ABU-NASR Associated Press Writer JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (Sept. 7, 2006) (ABC News International) Women in the Grand Mosque ARAB NEWS (Sept. 5, 2006) Chorus Gets Louder SAUDI GAZETTE (Sept. 2, 2006) Muslimah Writers Alliance Joins Coalition of Activists Seeking Preservation of Women's Prayer Area at Mecca's Grand Mosque MWANET (Aug. 31, 2006) Women to Fight Mecca Restriction Daily News, South Africa (Aug. 30, 2006)
Established in 2006, MWA is an internationally-based and recognized organization with a Mission to inspire Muslim women to collaborate with one another for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala and the common good of the Muslim Ummah, in addition to supporting one another in fulfilling their aspirations to become established writers. Applying Islamic principles, boundless enthusiasm, experience and resourcefulness to every project embraced, MWA members are dedicated to one another's success. -------------------------- 

The Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said, "One who helps a fellow Muslim in removing his (or her) difficulty in this world, Allah will remove the formers distress on the Day of Judgment. He who helps to remove the hardship of another, will have his difficulties removed by Allah in this world and in the Hereafter. One who covers the shortcomings of another Muslim, will have his faults covered up in this world and the next by Allah. Allah continues to help a servant so long as he goes on helping his own brother (or sister)." (Muslim)