Travel to NA’s of Pakistan & Chitral {(E) memory-lane from 2000 to 02} Part-II

Part-I of the above article was posted during January 2020 and Pakistan’s scenic Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) is all set to welcome domestic and international tourists now, with strict safety measures in place after Amazing Pakistan successfully flattened the COVID-19 curve.

Chinese media reported the first death from corona virus on January 11th, a man who visited the live animal market in Wuhan. Followed by another man from Washington, who returned from Wuhan. China imposed aggressive measures in Wuhan, by suspending flights and trains and shutting down subways, buses and ferries in an attempt to control the spread of the virus.

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‑19) is an infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, Hubei, China, and has resulted in an ongoing pandemic. As of 28 August 2020, more than 22.5 million cases have been reported across 188 countries and territories, resulting in more than 792,000 deaths. More than 14.4 million people have recovered.

Common symptoms include fever, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, and loss of smell and taste. While most people have mild symptoms, some people develop acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) possibly precipitated by cytokine storm, multi-organ failure, septic shock, and blood clots. The time from exposure to onset of symptoms is typically around five days, but may range from two to fourteen days.

Pakistan was named the top holiday destination for travelers for the year 2020 by the United States-based luxury and lifestyle publications.Travel company Wild Frontiers named Pakistan as the country to travel to in 2020. In a short announcement, the company tipped Pakistan as the next big destination for a couple of years, reporting a 20 per cent increase in customers willing to travel to Pakistan compared to 2018. In 2018, the British Backpacker Society had also ranked Pakistan the number one travel destination in the world.

After an introduction about Pakistan, I would like to discuss briefly about Northern Areas of Pakistan and Frontier Agency of Northern Areas, before going into further details.

In the north beyond Islamabad and beside NWFP is Frontier Agency of  Northern Areas  (FANA) of Pakistan with Jammu & Kashmir (Disputed Territory). These areas of southern region are composed of high mountains, peaks, glaciers ans passes.
Ea1 – Gilgit is centrally located.
Ea2 – North of Gilgit are Nagar and Hunza.
Ea3 – South of Gilgit is Chilaas.
Ea4 – East of Gilgit are Astor, Rondu, Shigar, Skardu, Khamarg and Khaplu.
Ea5 – West of Gilgit are Punial, Tangir Darel, Ghizer, Yasin and Ishkomen.
In the north beyond Islamabad major part of the area forms North West Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan with only a small southern strip of land of Punjab. The region that falls in the ranges of Himalaya and Hindukush is dominated by majestic peaks, strategic passes, trekking routes, alpine lakes, waterfalls, forested slopes and high altitude meadows.
Eb1 – Swat is centrally located.
Eb2 – North of Swat is Hindukush Range.
Eb3 – South of Swat are Bunair, Mardan and Swabi.
Eb4 – East of Swat are Chitral, Dir, Kohistan, Malakand and Mardan.
Eb5 – West of Swat are Kohistan, Shangla, Kaghan, Batgram, Mansehra, Hripur, Abbottabad and Murree.

Karakoram Highway map

To reach the above beautiful parts of Pakistan there are many travel and tour operators, trekking routes, popular itineraries, some selected hotels, guesthouses / rest houses and hostels. Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) also plays an important role, which are having numerous hotels & motels and info offices in the region as well as having on country level. PTDC arranges selected scheduled tours to archaeological sites, which are spread over to different regions, cities and other areas. Pakistan Tours Ltd (PTL) is a sub-branch of PTDC, which arranges high standard tours.
Pakistan is a paradise for trekkers. Most of the trekking routes lies in the northern mountains of the Hindukush, the Karakorum and the Himalaya. For most of the treks, trekking season is between May to October. The Ministry of Tourism, Government of Pakistan has defined as walking below 6000 meters (approx 18,500 feet). It has designated 3 zones for trekking, as stated:
– Open Zone – Foreign Tourists may trek anywhere without a permit and services of a mountain guide.
– Restricted Zone – Foreign Tourist must pay a fee per person per trek to obtain a trekking permit from the Ministry of Tourism in Islamabad. It also requires to hire a licensed mountain guide and buy a personal accident insurance policy for the guide and the porters. It is also necessary to attend a mandatory briefing and de-briefing at the Ministry of Tourism, on the beginning and end of the trekking trip.
– Closed Zones – No trekking is allowed in closed zones, which are the areas near Pak-Afghan borders and near the line of control with Indian-held Kashmir.
The Government has planned an organized reopening of tourist areas after the evaluation of the health situation. The officials came up with guidelines for travel and the hotel industry as well as visitors for the safe revival of tourism after five months of closure. Home secretary shared the mandatory guidelines for both visitors and tour operators.
Pakistan has well defined seasons:
– Winters, from December to February.
– Spring, from March to April.
– Summers, from May to September.
– Autumn, from October to November.
During summer in southern and central parts of the country, the temperature goes as high as 45 degrees centigrade. However northern regions have very pleasant weather during summers.

Mandatory travel guidelines

1. Before travel, the visitors must submit the following documents at the tourism office at GB house in Islamabad:

– Proof of a negative coronavirus test result

– COVID test to be taken within 7 days of arrival

– Hotel booking proof.

– Details of travel areas.

2. The Government would issue a visit permit after assessing the details of the tourists.

3. Only those with the permit would be allowed to enter the region.

4. Screening and registration to be ensured at all entry points.

5. Tour operators and hotel owners will ensure details of hotel booking prior to the visit.

6. Suspected coronavirus patients to be immediately quarantined and sent back.

Besides the essential rules, hotels and restaurants have been advised to display safety instructions for employees and customers and ensure temperature checks at the entrance. Visitors as well as those associated with the travel industry must wear masks while restaurants have been urged to maintain social distancing.

90 per cent coronavirus patients recovered

The number of coronavirus cases and fatalities continues to decline in Pakistan as the country reported 17 new deaths in the last 24 hours.

With the new virus cases reported during the last day, Pakistan’s overall count surged past 282,600, the Health Ministry said. With 258,000 recoveries, Pakistan’s recovery rate is now over 91 per cent.

Normal flight operations resume

Normal domestic flight operations have also resumed at nearly all airports in Pakistan from August 6 midnight except Turbat, Pangjur, Dalbadin, Zhob, Pasni, Moenjodaro, Nawabshah and Bahawalpur airport.

All operators would be required to implement the established guidelines and seek prior schedule approval from the authority. Pakistan decided to shut all its land borders and decided to close domestic and international flights in March.

All sectors open except schools and wedding halls

With the infection rate down nearly 80 per cent, Pakistan announced to open all sectors, other than schools and marriage halls. Planning Minister announced recently that tourist destinations would open from August 8, restaurants, theaters, gyms and beauty salons from August 10 including shops and businesses, and schools and marriage halls from September 10 would go back to pre-COVID schedules and timings.

Pakistan’s land is blessed with lots of natural treasures and wonders. Various quick initiatives were taken in 2019, which will help further in future. The process of applying fora tourist visa in Pakistan was made much easier than before. To facilitate and ensure the safety of the visitors, a tourism police wing was introduced in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The tourism apps are launch to facilitate the tourists and make their travelling easy and enjoyable. Similarly, different tourism conventions were held to change the image of Pakistan from an unsafe country to a tourist friendly. It’s not a small thing for a country to achieve the status of World cool and safe destination. We are proud and happy at the same time to become the coolest tourist destination.

Many other events had supported the positive and beautiful image of Pakistan. The launch of Kartarpur Corridor, the launch of K PK tourism authority and tourism app, Pakistan tourism summit and the relaxed e-visa policy opened the doors to tourism for travelers belonging to different countries. Pakistan is once again ready to say Assalmu – O – Alaikum to the world’s travel community, with the great efforts of Prime Minister Imran Khan and his team.

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Travel to NA’s of Pakistan & Chitral {(E) memory-lane from 2000 to 02} Part-I

First of all I would like to provide a brief introduction of Pakistan, which is located in southern Asia. Pakistan is bordered by the Arabian Sea to the south, Iran and Afghanistan to the west, India to the east, and China to the north.

Pakistan is with rich scenic beauty comprising of snow capped mountains in Gilgit, Chitral, Naran and Kaghan valleys. Lush green valleys of Azad Kashmir, rocky hills and mountainous ranges of Balochistan, accessible beaches of Karachi and Gawader, and the plains of Punjab set a unique topography of the entire region of Pakistan. The historical sites of Harappa and Mohenjo Daro, religious places like temples, gurdwaras and metropolitan urban centres are a treat to the eye of foreign tourists.

Together a brief introduction of Northern Areas (NA’s) of Pakistan & Chitral, so that you all know  which beautiful part of the world we are talking about. Gilgit Baltistan is federally administrative territory of Pakistan that borders the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to the west, Azad Kashmir to the southwest, Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan to the northwest, the Region of China to the north, and the Indian State of Jummu and Kashmir to the south and southeast. Unfortunately this J&K is the place in India where the law of jungle is under practice these days with the  Articles 370 and 35A of the constitution including  imposed curfew lasting more than 5 months, together a wave of agitations and strikes  is on increase throughout  other parts of India against a forced citizenship act by the current government. Chitral is provincially administrative tribal belt (NWFP) which borders Afghanistan to the northwest, west and southwest. Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan is sandwiched and abutting with Chitral, Ishkomen Valley, Hunza, China and Soviet Union Territories (Tajikistan).

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, the direct travel and tourism to Pakistan’s  GDP in 2016 was US$7.6 billion, constituting 2.7% of the total GDP. Tourism in Pakistan increased over 70% during the year 2018 as compared to corresponding years, mainly due to improved security and law & order situation. There lies an untapped potential in tourism industry of Pakistan because of its diverse culture, languages, heritage and traditions which if harnessed effectively can contribute to GDP worth $9.5 billion by 2025. Places to visit in Northern Areas of Pakistan & Chitral including surrounding familiar touristic spots are, as stated:

  1. Naltar valley. Naltar is famous for its colorful lakes, it is situated at a drive of 2.5 hours from Gilgit.
  2. Shandour, the highest polo-ground of the world located between NA’s of Pakistan and Chitral.
  3. Fairy Meadows (North face & South face)
  4. Hunza Valley, including upper Hunza.
  5. Rakaposhi Fall.
  6. Glaciers.
  7. Neelum Valley, Azad Kashmir.
  8. Shangrila resort, Skardu.
  9. Kachura Lake, Skardu.
  10. Gojal Valley.
  11. Deosai Plains.
  12. Rama Meadow.
  13. Kaghan Valley.
  14. Bamburet Valley.
  15. Garam Chashma in Chitral.

I stayed in Northern Areas of Pakistan and Chitral from 2000 to 2002, working for an NGO. Together with work, I got the opportunity to move around from valley to valley, river beds to mountain tops,  roaming around in wooded areas to the ice  floors and experiencing the unending chains of rivers, water springs and streams throughout the natural contours of the beautiful landscapes. I tried to manage both, work as well as tourism in a time-span spread over  to almost 3 years. 36 months were less to stay in those beautiful areas, which are breath taking and close to the nature. I will try to cover the details for the following specific touristic spots in my coming posts, as stated:

  • Travel to Abbotabad / Thandyani / Murree {(E1) during 2000}.
  • Travel to Northern Areas {(E2) during 2000}
  • Travel to Hunza Valley (upper/lower Hunza) & Karimabad {(E3) during 2000}
  • Travel to Skardu & upper areas of Kachura, Sad-para & Shiger {(E4) during 2000}
  • Travel to Chitral, Bonnie, Mastuj & Brumbret valley in Chitral {(E5) during 2000}
  • Travel to Chitral, Kalash Valley, Garam Chashma, Shogor & Trich Mir in Hindu Kuch Range {(E6) during 2001}
  • Travel to Astor, Ramma, Shangrila through Deosai Plains near LOC & Nanga Parbat north face {(E7) during 2001}
  •  Travel to Sust, Chapoursan & Wakhan Corridor near Afghanistan {(E8) during 2001}
  • Travel to glaciers {(E9) during 2001}
  • Travel to Base Camp of Rakaposhi with the work team {(E10) during 2001}
  • Travel to Shandur Festival {(E11) during 2001}
  • Travel to Hazara, Swat Dir & Loweri Top to Chitral through silk route & back to Gilgit through Shandur & Phander & Gakuch {(E12) during 2002}
  • Travel to Fairy Meadows & Nanga Parbat south face through Chilas {(E13) during 2002}
  • Travel to Ishkoman Valley {(E14) during 2002}
  • Monthly Travel site visits to higher altitudes {(E15) by road during summers/winters}
  • Yearly Travel site visits to higher altitudes {(E16) by chopper during extreme winters}

In a nutshell, Pakistan is an adventure playground. This is a country which truly has everything; friendly locals, stunning landscapes, incredible treks, untapped white water rafting, undiscovered expeditions, colorful festivals, tasty food, and just enough thrills to keep you on your toes.

A trip to Pakistan is not your standard adventure, this is a chance to really connect with the local people and to see a country which, really, nobody knows much about.

According to details aired on a private news channels, it is said Pakistan tourism has been praised abroad, which is evident from the fact that many international tourists have started visiting Pakistan’s archaeological sites. Prince William & Kate also visited Pakistan during October 2019. They  visited countable cities and Northern Areas of Pakistan & Chitral. They visited few schools and passed good time with school children . Prince Harry & Meghan are also planning  a visit during January 2020. Their mother Princess Diana visited Pakistan last time during 1997, when Prince William was only 11 yrs old and both met Imran Khan at that time.

It is further said that Pakistan has been ranked as the world’s top adventure travel destination in 2018. Currently Pakistan is ranked at 124, according to the world Economic Forum Tourism and Competitive Ranking. We need to up our game. The “Amazing Pakistan” campaigns are running all over the world but it needs to be supplemented through various offers, deals and promotions that we ourselves love to take when go out searching for places to visit. Pakistan must not lose the opportunity to make its mark on global tourism. We already lost precious time, and let us not wait anymore and open our doors to show the world really how “Amazing Pakistan” is.

Useful Tips

  1. Mostly shopping areas open between 7:30 – 9:00 am and work until sunset.  Fridays are considered short working days, and on Sundays almost all the markets are closed.
  2. Banks and other government offices open early between 7:00-7:30 am and work until 3:00-4:30 pm. Some big agencies work for some additional hours in the evening as well.
  3. Bargaining deals are only available in the open markets, as bargaining has been a ritual for years and years. In normal stores  commodity prices are fixed.
  4. Main voltage is 220 V; two-pin sockets are mostly in common use. Required adapters may be borrowed from the hotels or may be purchased as necessary.
  5. Tipping isn’t officially accepted, but in some reputable restaurants tip may be included in the total amount of the bill. If you would like to tip the serving person, then you can add 10% extra to the bill amount.
  6. Tourists, who are looking to call other countries, are recommended to purchase prepaid cards. It is available on all newsstands, petrol gas stations and post offices. These cards are accepted by all payphone services. Calls from conventional street payphones are the most economical one. Today Whats-app and other similar apps are very common, which replaced all other possible options.
  7. Gilgit, Hunza and Sust are having lot of stalls offering customers the most diverse goods, like beautiful clothing, jewelry, gift items and food stuff etc. etc. Those who are looking for something in antiques, as there you can find lot of unique variety of local antiques in Hunza and Chitral main bazaars near PTDC (Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation) Hotels.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               We want to hear from you. What is your favorite type of blog? Let us know in the comments.

 

Tiny-Homes

A Tiny Home is a growing trend where you downsize your home and lifestyle. The typical size for a tiny home is usually between 100-400 sq ft. Instead of the average size of a regular home being approx 2400 sq. ft. People who go this alternative route have less money tied into their home and are able to afford doing the things they want to. When people downsize to tiny homes, they adopt more environmentally friendly lifestyles. In fact you are occupying a much smaller space and consuming fewer resources. Another benefit of “going tiny” is the fact that a large portion of the population that couldn’t afford to own their own regular sized home, now can own a home. Most young people, young couples and first time home buyers can’t afford the $400k to $800k and above to own a regular sized home. Most housing markets are too out of reach for a large portion of the population.

Our main concern is healthy living conditions – Tiny Homes (TH) are properly insulated and can be lived in all four seasons, like a regular foundation home. Foundation Homes (FH) are a combination of concrete, steel and wood, together composed of concrete in sub-structure (below ground level) and steel/wood in super-structure (above ground level). Tiny Homes have usually 4 1/2” of spray foam in the “floor” with a 6.5 R value per inch, which is R29.25. The 2×4 “walls” with 3 1/2“ of spray foam inside is R22.75 and the “ceiling” is R35.75 which is 5 1/2” of spray foam in 2×6 construction. Many who prefer TH are retirees, self-employed or not working, so they spend a lot less money than they used to.

In fact the requirements of an average house or tiny home depends from person to person, as human needs are unlimited but we have to define them through our limited wants. As far as I understand individually, the factors towards downsizing (moving from a larger space to a much smaller one) are debt reduction, increased savings, downshifting (the ability to work fewer hours at work in order to take part in other meaningful work activities, like more working for Deen related and other activities or participating in Dawah). On a more collective and structure challenging level, tiny houses may help in community-building, counter poverty and housing insecurity. Thinking about the necessities of life, such as safe drinking water, a clean environment, and decent housing should take priority over building more pipelines that will simply continue to fuel over-production, over-consumption and waste. More than simply a physical barrier, the tiny houses and the solar panels that power them demonstrate that we need to create opportunities for living sustain ably. When people downsize to tiny homes, they adopt more environmentally friendly lifestyles. When we are talking about such style of living, actually we are talking about simplicity and the quality of life with respect to food, transportation, pro-environmental behaviors, recycling, purchasing etc etc ….. Our average size of previous/present house was/is approximately between 1600 to 2000 square feet, which may/will reduce to average tiny home size of approximately between 150 to 350 square feet only. In fact we are continuously in a state of downsizing & downshifting…..

Deen related activities are & to be part of our lives as far as we can, whatever an individual can perform within his means with respect to the availability of time & resources in this worldly glamours. As an example we can start Dawah related activities – may be from our neighbors or to stand on a street Dawah-Booth anywhere (near place of your work) for an hour or so lasting for daily/weekly/monthly basis. If you are thinking beyond the mountains, then you may also drive a U-Haul Truck which may be converted into a cozy Tiny Home-On-Wheels, may also serve the purpose of getting around for Dawah activities as well. Such Tiny cum Dawah Home-On-Wheels may be hardly around & close to 150 square feet of limited space, which might address both purpose of living as well as performing Dawah anywhere or wherever you are on the vast land of God. Disadvantage for such living is that you actually do not own the land, as you are always in a state of travelling for limited/unlimited time-period from one place to another for a specific cause.  Definitely it is not possible for maximum of us to be part of such mobility, but at least possible for countable individuals who can afford to engage themselves  in such Deen oriented activities as per their convenience now or sometime in future.

Homeowners are increasingly aware of and curious about tiny homes as a housing option – prompting questions about safety, rules and practicality of building and living in a tiny house. These structures are built in many shapes and sizes, with the one common element being a small living space. Tiny homes are typically less than 400 square feet. These structures are subject to the same Land Use Bylaws rules as any other dwelling, and there are a variety of scenarios that Calgarians in Canada may encounter if they are pursuing the tiny home lifestyle.

There are different queries which pop up in mind, as stated:

  • Is Tiny Home on wheels, then how does it will work with parking and other land use parameters, or
  • Do Tiny Home sits directly on the ground, then what should you know about the land use, or
  • Tiny Home as a backyard suite.

In fact each situation is investigated on a case-by-case, depending on construction type and location. Some comply with Canadian Standards Association (CSA) requirements of recreational vehicles (RV) and are not certified for year-round accommodation. The City regulates this type of vehicle as it would any other RV including where the vehicle can be parked or stored. Some are intended to provide year-round accommodation. The City regulates this type of tiny house as a manufactured home. In the last two cases all Land Use Bylaw and safety requirements including building and fire codes must be met. These permits and codes include a provision that to be permanently occupied, the structure must be built on a permanent foundation and be fully serviced with utilities such as water and sewer lines. Stamped drawings from a professional architect or engineer may be required prior to the building permit approval.

Example of Okotoks town council in Calgary, who approved the development of the first phase of the “eco-village” or tiny home village. Phase 1 includes 42 affordable rental units, market rate rentals, short term vacation rental units and homes for purchase, scheduled to be built by 2021. The concept is geared toward people interested in communal oriented living, who want to live more simply in a smaller space as a manufactured home.

Tired of high utility bills and expensive property prices? Consider the non-traditional option of tiny home living. For many the idea of settling down and creating a home base in Canada’s most populous province of Ontario is a little more than a dream now. Before you start taking the initiative, take care of the following:

  • Building Code, permits and inspections.
  • Building Code requirements.
  • Municipal rules and requirements.
  • Rural, suburban or urban locations.
  • Checklist.

Community is in need of producing with such small standard units of different typical designs to benefit the millennial population for their immediate, short and long-term needs. The Tiny House Movement is on rise and swept across America, with smart and affordable housing. More than ever, people are rethinking what makes a house a home, and downsizing their space to upgrade their lives. That’s where the idea came in. Families are facing huge challenges, and it is the time for the professionals to offer them a tiny solution.

The tiny house phenomenon is transforming the lives of people seeking a minimalist lifestyle. People are building their own miniature living spaces and moving out of the city to the woods, suburbs, or even their family and friend’s backyards. One reason for this is that tiny homes are often placed in nature-oriented areas. Creativity comes from inspiration, and nothing inspires us more than the outdoors. The choice is often in opposition to the excessive “more is better” mentality handed down to millennials by the baby boomer generation.

 

 

My travel to KSA {(D) memory-lane from 1997 to 2000}:

Due to the prevailing situation in Pakistan, travelled to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the capital city of Riyadh on a big project of National Museum (King Abdul Aziz Historical Center – KAAHC). I worked there on behalf of the main contractor start from beginning to the end of the world class project, representing countable local and foreign consultants & the sub-contractors. Design was by a Canadian Architect inspired by the form and colors of the sand dunes of the “Red Sands” found just outside Riyadh.

West facade along Murabba’ Square resembles the soft contour of a sand-dune with its layout forming a crescent pointing towards Mecca. The west facade opens into an Islamic history of the Arabian Peninsula. For the final galleries the visitor enters the “Unification Drum” which has displays about the current Saudi State. The last gallery illustrates the two holy mosques and the hajj. Additionally there are two further galleries for special exhibitions. Project is surrounded by beautiful landscaped areas in levels, mounds, water features, mud structures and artistically placed boulders & rocks on landscaped contours.

My travel to Pakistan (D1) during 1997/98:

I hardly pass few months in KSA, when my parents expired during 1997/98. I was on a short trip to attend the funeral of my mother, but was unable to attend for my father due to delays in complicated system of visa processes in KSA at that time. It was hardly a gap of several weeks between both the funerals. Both the years were very tough for me, as my family was also all alone in Karachi.

I decided to perform Hajj-1998 with the group of my friends working with me. Our group was all forced bachelors living for work in KSA. We performed the complete Hajj by walking from Makkah-Al-Mukaramma and back to Makkah, which was definitely a unique experience for all of us. Mostly it used to be more convenient to travel on foot instead of using other means of transportation, due to high volume of crowd pour in Makkah for performing Hajj. Crowd Management always remained a serious issue and challenge during the Hajj period. 1998 Hajj stampede resulted in more than 100 deaths and 150 injuries of pilgrims during the month of April while stoning of the Devil ritual on Jamaraat Bridge. I still remember the day when I completed all the steps of Hajj and was proceeding towards Makkah, for the final visit of Kabah followed by back to Riyadh. I was hardly a kilometer away from the Jamaraat Bridge, when the tragedy of stampede happened. I remember the rush of paramedic ambulances and other first aid vehicles towards the place of incident. Many old and physically weak pilgrims were rolled and crushed due to the panic in the crowd. Unfortunately an elder person known to me was also suffered from the panic and crowd-crush, but later on recovered fast.

Later on travelled back again to Karachi during the summers of 1998 on my annual vocation, where the house was without parents. My growing children were also missing their grand-parents, which started forcing me to quit the overseas job and return back to the family.

My travel to other cities of KSA (D2) during 1998/99:

KAAHC Project was supposed to be handed over by the end of 1999, as 100 years of the ruling family were completed at that time and the project was officially opened for the public. It was a big day for the ruling family, people of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the expatriates living and working in the Kingdom. We were also somewhat relaxed, as the long working hours were reduced to normal working hours with the opening of the project. I would like to discuss some details of the project, as mentioned:

King Abdul Aziz Historical Center (KAAHC):

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has more than historical, archaeological, cultural and scientific museums presenting the art life, old handicrafts, old historical activities, antiquities and diverse economic & commercial activities. The National Museum of Riyadh is most famous one in the KSA located in the middle part of King Abdul-Aziz Historical Center, which was established to be a cultural and civilization center highlighting the prominent history of Arabian Peninsula and its historical message of disseminating Islam. This Museum aims to introduce the KSA history with its role and fundamentals.

Also, the Museum plays a major role in activating the tourism movement around the KSA, in general, and Riyadh, in particular, through visits either paid by the citizens and expatriates from inside the Kingdom or paid by delegations VIP characters from outside the Kingdom. The National Museum occupies seventeen thousand square meters from the eastern part of King Abdul-Aziz Historical Center. The Museum’s two story building covers twenty-eight thousand square meters. This museum provides a modern educational environment for different segments of the local community and visitors of all ages and occupations such as children, families, researchers, specialists, and others. Moreover, the Museum aims to reinforce its educational message via the collection, registration, restoration and preservation of antiquities. Also, it organizes educational exhibitions for the antiquities of the Arabian Peninsula and its traditional heritage during different eras. This Museum focuses on highlighting the prominent properties of each province around the KSA with displaying various exhibits within the framework of geographical and cultural unity. In addition, the Museum contains a number of educational aides that facilitate the understanding of information related to the relics, documents, manuscripts, and display boards. Also, the Museum provides multimedia presentations like documentaries and simulation programs that can be used for presenting the information about some historical incidents in an interesting manner. The Museum is distinguished for its comprehensive exhibits presenting a topic in a successive manner starting from the creation of the universe until the Modern Age with its main idea about the Arabian Peninsula. It consists of eight major halls each of which provides an independent objective presentation. These halls are arranged in a historical succession where each one has its own architectural design. Moreover, the Museum comprises two halls for short-term exhibits, plus the management offices, storehouses, and the public facilities available for the visitors and employees.

After 1953 the palace compound ceased to be used as main royal residence and slowly fell into disuse. The “Murabba’ Development Project” was later started to make use of the area for projects involved with the Centennial Celebrations in 1999. As such the area was chosen to be the site of several cultural institutions focusing on the national history in general and the history of the current Saudi State and its founder in detail. Consequently what had remained of the old palace compound buildings was restored or remodeled on plans similar to the original buildings. The surrounding area was made into a landscape of parks and plazas and new buildings were built such as the National Museum of Saudi Arabia.

The units on the west side of the area are from south to north: A remodeled mosque, the old original Murabba’ Palace with main Diwan renovated as “living museum”, the “Memorial Hall” on the outlines of an old courtyard house, a modern exhibition hall for the car collection, on the footprints of the old majlis and assembly hall the new Al-Dara main lobby and multipurpose hall, a documentation center with a separated men’s and women’s library each, an art gallery and a large internal garden. On the east side the new National Museum of Saudi Arabia was built together with the King Abdul Aziz Foundation Research and Archives. To the south the area around the old water tower has been remodelled and now includes a small theme park. The whole project is said to have cost some 680 million Saudi riyals (about 181.33 million U.S. dollars at the time) and covers an area of some 360,000 square meters (3,000,000 sq ft).

During the Hajj-1999 vacations, I planned to visit other parts of the country of Saudi Arabia. I got the opportunity of visiting the following cities of Saudi Arabia, as mentioned:

  • Al-Baha – It is the touristic spot in the west of KSA, surrounded by forests. One of the known forest park is Raghadan Forest Park, which is with low and high mountains containing several hiking trails through thick and thin series of the forests. It is one of the prime location for the tourists arriving by road, and located at an elevation of 2155 meter.
  • Taif – It is located in the south-west of KSA, and approachable by all easily. It is located on an elevation of 1879 meter. There are lot of attractions in Taif, from semi-urban life to the touristic places to visit like several Souks (bazaars), Turkish Fort, Al-Rudaf Park, King Fahd Zoo, Al Hada Mountains, Al-Kar Tourist Village, Greeen Village and several other Museums, Muwiya Dam,
  • Jeddah – It is known as the port city and a commercial hub, together a gateway to for pilgrimages to the Islamic holy cities of Makkah-Al-Maozamma and Madina-Al-Munawara. It is the second largest city in KSA, after Riyadh. Due to steady influx of the visitors, the city contains many hotels, resorts, shopping centers and other attractions. A major roadway running along the coast, Corniche Road is a locus of Jeddah night life, restaurants and shopping centers. Corniche beaches are very well maintained along the whole coastal belt. Coastal beaches are usually lively during the weekdays and much crowded with families on the weekends.

After the completion of the project in KSA returned back to Karachi in 2000 and joined AKPBS, P, which was having a number of academic and health projects in the northern parts of Pakistan. This was the best time which I passed in my employment history with the participation of the local communities, serving them for their housing, academic and health needs. My lifetime memorable tenure making the community participation meaningful through the decision trail, which I love to discuss and share with you all in my future coming posts in detail.

HERITAGE and General/Technical facts & figures about ALHARAM (Makkah-Al-Mukaramma) – Part-II

Stages of construction & expansion of Al-Haram through ages:

  • Initiated & raised by the Angels.
  • Construction by Hadhrat Adam.
  • Construction by Hadhrat Ibrahim & Hadhrat Ismaa’eel.
  • Construction during Amaaliqah People.
  • Construction during Jurhum Tribe.
  • Construction during Qusay bin Kilaab.
  • Expansion during time of Quraysh:
  • Expansion by Hadhrat Umar {7 AH=629 AD}: There were no walls around Masjid Al-Haram, except houses. During his period surrounding properties were purchased & walls were built, doors were located & the Mataf area was leveled. Most of the expansion was done in east, west & north directions.

                  Gap of 10 YEARS – – –

  • Expansion by Hadhrat Othman {17 AH=637 AD}:

                 Gap of 46 YEARS – – –

  • Expansion by Hadhrat Abdullah Bin Zubayr {65 AH = 685 AD}:

                Gap of 70 YEARS – – –

  • Expansion by Abu Jafer Al-Mansoor Abbasi {137 AH=755AD}:

                SAME YEAR – – –

  • Expansion by Waleed Bin Abdul Malik {137 AH=755 AD}:

               Gap of 22 YEARS – – –

  • Expansion by Muhammad Mahdi Abbasi {160 AH=777 AD): Expansion towards south was initiated as per his instructions, as he passed away during 169 AH=786 AD. The task was expensive to bring KABA in center, but later on it was performed with the efforts of the engineers & artisans by the grace of Allah. This expansion stood for 810 years {
  • (From 169 to 979 AH = 785 to 1571 AD). In fact, some of the pillars built then still stand today as part of the Turkish expansion. They bear historical inscriptions on them & some of them are actually carved out of a single block of marble.

                 Gap of 120 YEARS – – –

  • Expansion by Mutadhid Abbasi {284 AH=897 AD}:

                Gap of 21 YEARS – – –

  • Expansion by Muqtadir Abbasi {302 AH=918 AD}:

                  Gap of 654 YEARS – – –

  • Renovation by Turks {980 AH=1572 AD}: When the building of Madrasah Qaaytibaa’ee adjacent to Masjid Al-Haram collapsed in 979 AH=1571 AD, a hole was ripped in the eastern roof of Masjid. Sultan Sulaymaan Qaanooni gave the instructions for the Masjid Al-Haram to be rebuilt. Construction work began in 980 AH=1572 AD & was completed during the period of Sultaan Sulaymaan’s son Sultaan Muraad in the year 984 AH=1576 AD. The Masjid was rebuilt in all the four directions & is standing to this day – 440 years later.

                  Gap of 383 YEARS – – –

  • 1st Expansion by King Abdul Aziz {1375 AH=1955 AD}: In (1344 AH=1925 AD) King Abdul Aziz issued the instruction that whatever the repairs & renovations are needed for the Masjid Al-Haram, shall be undertaken & completed. Flooring of Masaa was completed, a new roof was raised & the buildings on Mataf were demolished to make more room, as no significant expansion was done since (302 AH=918 AD). The capacity was only to accommodate fifty thousand worshippers. King Abdul Aziz expressed the intention to extend both, Masjid Al-Haram & Masjid Al-Nabvi in 1368 AH=1948 AD. Preparations were already underway, when the King passed away in (1373 AH=1953 AD). Construction work began during (1375 AH=1953 AD), by the instructions of his son King Saud. Expansion work was done by Saudi Bin Laden Group & it took almost 20 years to complete.

After this expansion, Khaadimul Harmain King Fahad bin Abdul Aziz issued a royal decree to prepare the roof of Al-Haram for Salaah. Facilities were provided & completed for lighting, sound system & water, together with the installation of escalators for access. Provision of cool flooring was kept for the worshippers, & the construction was completed in (1406 AH=1986 AD). This allowed a total area of 42,000 sq. meter, accommodating an extra 105,000 worshippers

                 Gap of 33 YEARS – – –

  • 2nd Expansion by the custodian of the 2 Holy Mosques King Fahd {1409 AH=1988 AD}: In Safar (1409 AH=1988 AD) King Fahad bin Abdul Aziz laid the foundation stone for the 2nd Saudi expansion of Al-Haram. This expansion was completed in Dhul Qa’dah (1413 AH=1993 AD). An additional building was constructed in the area between Umrah Door & Abdul Aziz Door. The building is composed of basement, ground, and first & roof floor almost covering 76,000 sq. meter. Design of foundation is kept to take additional floors, if required in future. Access to & from basement, first floor & roof is facilitated by staircases & escalators.

                  Gap of 21 YEARS – – –

  • 3rd Expansion by the custodian of the 2 Holy Mosques King Fahd {1433 AH=2012 AD}: Work of temporary Mataf expansion was initiated by the custodian of 2 Holy Mosques King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud on 25th of Ramadan (1433 AH=2013 AD). 12 meter grid was followed, keeping the previous grid format into consideration. 1st level of temporary Mataf is 4.65 meter high & 2nd level is 13.35 meter high from the finished floor level of main Mataf area, which will be removable during non-peak seasons. Provision of LED lighting is kept under the temporary ceiling, speakers on the vertical columns & provision of CCTV on the light poles.
  • Major expansion continued and completed by (1436 AH=2015 AD) by the time of Hajj period. Other minor works of expansion in other pockets of Al Haram is still continuing Alhamdulillah, which King Abdullah Ibn Abdul-Aziz planned to increase the mosque’s capacity. He died in 2015, but his successor King Salman is likely to continue with the renovations & expansion work by the turn of 2020.

HERITAGE and General/Technical facts & figures about ALHARAM (Makkah-Al-Mukaramma) – Part-I

We identify & remember Makkah Al Mukarammah with several qualities, as stated:

  • Creator of the universe has selected it to be the location of his most sacred house, the KABAH.
  • The city accommodates Masjid Haram, in which the rewards of a single Salah is multiplied by one hundred thousand times.
  • The city has the honor of being the birthplace of final Rasool’ Hadrat Muhammad Rasoollillah (PBUH). The house where Prophet (PBUH) was born is situated in Suq Al-Lail Street. At this place there exists a library (MAKTABA AL MAKKAH AL MUKRAMMA) today. If you come out of Al-Haram near Safa Hill, this house is 2 furlongs away on the right side.
  • The cave of the first Quranic Revelation (Cave of Hira) is situated on the mountain of light (JAB AL NOOR).
  • The city is also having the well of Zamzam, the water of which is better & more blessed than the waters of universe.
  • Holy land is having different types & variety of dates, which are delicious & having their unique taste.
  • While praying from anywhere around the world you face single direction from your destination, but inside ALHARAM you have the opportunity to face KABA from all the directions.
  • The splendid city of Makkah houses sites where du’aas are readily accepted, where sins are forgiven & where difficulties are alleviated. The more a person visits here, the more his heart yearns to return.
  • The latitude of Makkah Al Mukaramma is 21* 25’ 19” N, while the longitude is 39* 49’ 46” E. Its height above sea level is more than 300 meters & it is situated at the center of the globe.

Besides the above stated qualities there are numerous other historical facts & figures that multiplies its significance, which are as stated below:

Interior (Floor, Walls & Roof) of KABAH:

  • North East: Inside wall is 9.89 meter in length. Door of KABAH is 1.9 meter wide & 3.1 meter high. The door is 2.5 meter high from the MATAF floor level.
  • North West: Inside wall is 10.15 meter in length.
  • South East: Inside wall is 8.24 meter in length.
  • South West: Inside wall is 8 meter in length. There is a staircase (2.5 X 1.5) approaching up on roof of KABA. Staircase is having a door, which is known as Baabut Taubah. Roof parapet is 80 cm high & having a water spout of 195x26x23 towards North West side.
  • Door of KABAH & Baabut Taubah. These 2 doors are decorative of solid gold & equivalent to 280 kg of gold price.
  • Floor: White marble is laid, as a flooring inside Kabah. Unique key of Kabah was handed over to Hadrat ‘Uthman bin Talha by Rasoollillah (PBUH). After the demise of Hadrat ‘Uthman, his cousin Shaybah received the key. His descendants are alive to this day & they are commonly known as the SHAYBI People. The length of the key is 40 cm.
  • Walls: Interior walls are clad with solid colored marble bearing attractive inscriptions & engravings. There are also green curtains on the walls. Walls are 0.95 to 1.05 meter wide, running all around.
  • There are 3 pillars supporting the roof of Kabah, which are 2.35 meter away in middle & 1.7 meter away at edges.
  • Ceiling: The Kabah remained without a roof for a long period. Quraysh were the builders of the roof of Kabah.
  • Roof: Parapet is 80 cm high & having a water spout towards North West side for drain, in case of rains. Roof is having an opening 1.27×1.4 meter, which remains covered with a skylight made of tempered glass.

Mizaab Rahmah: The Mizaab Rahmah is a water outlet attached to the roof of the Kabah that channels the water on the roof down to the Hateem area. Total length of this water spout is 2.53 meters. Length inside the wall is 58 cm & outside the wall is 1.95 meters. Height is 23 cm & the width is 26 cm.

The Baytul Ma ’moor: is a house in the heavens, located directly above Kabah. Its status there is just like the status of Kabah holds on earth. Each day 70,000 angels engage in Ibada there & none of them ever get a second opportunity to present themselves there again.

Exterior (Corners, Walls & Mataf Area) of KABAH:

  • North Corner: Rukn Shaami – From this corner HATEEM is 2.29 meter away.
  • South Corner: Rukn Yaamni – It is situated on that side of Kabah, which faces the land of Yemen.
  • East Corner: Hajar Aswad – Stone is 1.1 meter high from the MATAF floor level.
  • West Corner: Rukn Gharbi – From this corner HATEEM is 2.23 meter away.
  • North East Side: Door of the KABAH – Front of KABA & outside wall is 12.84 meter in length.
  • North West Side: Location of HATEEM – Outside wall is 13.16 meter in length & center of HATEEM is 8.46 meter away. Diameter of semi circular HATEEM is 17.57 meter, 1.32 meter high & almost 1.58 meter in width.
  • South East Side: Shaadharawaan – Outside wall is 11.52 meter in length.
  • South West Side: Shaadharawaan – Back of KABA & outside wall is 11.28 meter in length.

Shaadharawaan: It is 13 cm high & 45 cm wide, saving the foundations of KABA from water penetration & seepage. 55 Brass rings are also fixed with Shaadharawaan, to hold & keep Ghilaaf KABA intact. Shaadharawaan is clad with very durable & highest quality of marble & total length all around is 47.75 running meter.

Hajar Aswad: Dimensions of Hajar Aswad are 25 cm by 17 cm. Only parts of the stone are affixed to the wall of the Kabah. It now consists of eight pieces of varying sizes, with the largest being the size of a date. The pieces were affixed to a large stone & then encased in a silver frame. New silver frame was replaced in 1375 AH=1955 AD DURING THE PERIOD OF King Saud bin Abdul Aziz. It was again refurbished by King Fahd in 1422 AH=2002 AD.

The Multazam: The area between Hajar Aswad & the door of Kabah is called the Multazam. It is approximately 2 meters. The Multazam is the area where du’aas are accepted.

The Hateem: The Hateem is that crescent-shaped area immediately adjacent to Kabah. It is also called Hijr Ismaa’eel. Three meters of Hateem area immediately from North West wall of Kabah, is actually part of Kabah. Praying in this specific area is equivalent of praying like inside of Kabah.

The Mataff: Mataff refers to the open area immediately around Kabah, where Tawaf takes place. Hadhrat Abdullah bin Zubayr was the first to cement this area, approximately with a width of 5 meters. It was expanded from time to time, & it was the year 1375 AH=1955 AD that it was extended from 40 meter to 50 meter in a circular shape. Best quality of marble was used to pave the Mataff that does not heat up even in the hottest days.

The Maqaam Ibrahim: The place where the feet of a standing person fall is referred to as MAQAAM in Arabic. The Maqaam Ibrahim therefore refers to the blessed stone that Hadhrat Ismaa’eel brought for his father Hadhrat Ibrahim to stand on when building up the walls of the Kabah.

Exterior (Nearby surroundings in all directions) of KABAH:

  • North Corner: If you go further up, 2 minarets of Masjid together with Marwa approaching to Al-Fatah Gate.
  • South Corner: If you go further up, 2 minarets of Masjid are there approaching to King Abdul Aziz Gate.
  • East Corner: If you go further up, 1 minaret of Masjid very close to Safa.
  • West Corner: If you go further up, 2 minarets of Masjid are there approaching to Umra Gate.
  • North East Side: If you go further up, Mas’aa (Safa & Marwa).
  • North West Side: If you go further up, Hajir Ismail is located.
  • South East Side: If you go further up, southern wall with first Saudi expansion.
  • South West Side: If you go further up, 2 minarets of Masjid & second Saudi expansion approaching King Fahd Gate.

Minarets: In 1st & 2nd Saudi expansion, total number of minarets are 9 in number. Eight of them adorn the four main entrances and the 9th one is situated at the door adjacent to Safa. A circular staircase is leading to their top. Each Minaret comprises of six portions – square foundation, 1st balcony, section between two balconies, 2nd balcony, dome of Minaret & crescent on top.

Roof for Salaah: After 1st Saudi expansion Khaadimul Harmain King Fahad bin Abdul Aziz issued a royal decree to have the roof of the Masjid Haram prepared to be used for Salaah. Facilities were provided for lighting, sound & water together with the installation of escalators for access to roof. Cool flooring was laid for the worshippers & all construction work was completed during 1406 AH=1986 AD. This allowed 42,000 meter square to become useable for Salaah, accommodating an extra 105, 000 worshippers.

Well of Aab-E-Zamzam:

  • Maqam Ibrahim is 14 meter and Zamzam well is 21 meter away from face of KABA. Water spring is gushing at a depth of 13 meters & available at a depth of 4 meters only from the floor level of MATAF.
  • Source of water is from several springs around the Zamzam well. Water delivery is 11 to 18.5 liters per second, which somewhat rounds to 39600 liters per hour. Circumference of the well is 1.46 to 2.66 meters.
  • Alhamdulillah despite of extensive use, the water has not diminished & is still flowing after approximately five thousand years. It may be stated, as this is the oldest well on earth.
  • KUDA is the place where a massive water tank was built, which almost accommodates 150,000 cubic meter of water. Water is filled into tankers & transported to various regions of Saudi Arabia.

Maasa (Safa & Marwa):

  • From SAFA – KABA is 130 meter away & from MARWA – KABA is 300 meter away.
  • Total length of MAASA (from Saafa to Marwa) is 397.5 meter. 7 pedestrian bridges (flyovers) are interconnecting, more than 30 doors are approaching & several escalators are also connecting the upper levels of Safa & Marwa the worship area, from the complete stretch of MAASA length.
  • Green Light Area is approximately in 45 to 50 meter in length, where men shall jog. Well of Zamzam is located between green light area & KABA.
  • Combined area of two Mas’aa floors is 15,780 sq. meters. Height of the floor is 11.75 meter, & the heights of other floors is 8.5 meter. There are escalators & elevators joining the two floors.
  • Wheelchair worshippers have separate tracks for movement on each level.
  • During the year 1417 & 1423 AH= 1996 & 2002 AD the rocks at Marwa were removed & the ground was leveled, to provide the approach door for the worshippers to go outside.

Doors of Al-Haram:

  • Eventually after the 2nd Saudi expansion, there were more than 95 doors. These include the doors to the basement, with the 1st floor, those leading to the escalators & those approaching to flyover walkways. Numbering of the doors starts from King Abdul Aziz Door & ends with Door No: 95, which was the last installed after the 2nd
  • Later on few more doors were added. Amongst which is the door of the flyover walkway near the Banu Shaybah Door, which is located at Massa close to Marwah. By counting all these, the number exceeded to 112.
  • Main gates & entrances were already discussed above.

Courtyards surrounding Al-Haram:

Masjid Al-Haram is surrounded by courtyards, with cool white marble flooring. Lines were engraved to mark the rows, facing to KABA all around. Major area covered by courtyards is as stated below:

  • East of Masaa: Area is approximately 46,000 sq. meter on east & north east side of Al-Haram.
  • Front of Abdul Aziz & King Fahd Doors: Area is approximately 28,000 sq. meter on south & south west of Al-Haram.
  • In the direction of Sham: Area is approximately 14,000 sq. meter on north & north west of Al-Haram.
  • Total area is approximately 88,000 sq. meter, which may almost accommodate 22,000 worshippers all around.

Wadu & Toilet Facilities:

  • One toilet facility is located in front of Abdul Aziz Door, which comprises of 2 floors & is located below street level. It houses 690 toilets & 449 taps for Wadu.
  • Another such facility is located in front of Marwah, which also comprises 2 floors. Therefore total toilets are 1440 & taps are 1091 for Wadu.
  • Apart from above, there are toilet facilities on the north of Masjid Al Haram.

Air conditioning Plant:

  • During the 2nd expansion, a plant was set up to air condition the Masjid as well as the 1st floor of the Massa. The plant is housed in a six story building & is located 600 meters away from Al-Haram on the Ajyaad Road. The plant is equipped with the latest technology to cool air & pump it through pipes into the lower basement & distributed throughout the Al-Haram area.

Road Tunnels:

  • A tunnel in front of King Abdul Aziz Door for the pedestrians. The tunnel is 1500 meter long accommodating 2 roads, one from West of Makkah & other from East of Makkah from places like Mina, Muzdalifah & Arafat.
  • The tunnel is well lit & vented and is also fitted with surveillance cameras as a safety precautionary measures.
  • Approach through 1st ring road beside SAPTCO Bus Station proceeds towards Al Sulamaniya Tunnel which is along 2nd ring road, meets Al Munsour Road & ultimately to Ibrahim Khalil Road where the Madrassa is located. It is hardly 10 km away from Al-Haram.

Madrasah-Al-Sawlatiyah:

  • Some Aalim-e-Deen from India came to Makkah Al Moazamma in 1850 AD for teaching Hadiith and Fiqh and subsequently came to know that Imam of Haram (from Egypt most probably) was having some difficulty in enunciating properly while reciting Quran, so he took the initiative to open a school for Quran and Tajweed.
  • He gathered & united some of the Muslim immigrants of wealthy benefactors to establish an authentic Islamic Law School to teach the Islamic sciences through a systematic workable curriculum. The delegation visited India and some Nawabs of the era helped for the establishment of the Madrassah.
  • The major contributor was a noble lady of Calcutta by the name of Sawlat-un-Nisa, on whose name the Madrassah is still running. She was a rich Hajj pilgrim and wife of Nawab of Bengal, who provided the necessary funding of the School. Begum Sawlat-un-Nisa, who was known for her generosity and a descendant of the pious Muslim ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore in South India – Tipu Sultan (1750 – 1799) who fought in the battlefield with British Raj till his last breath. He is said to be the descendant of the tribe of Quraish of Makkah.
  • It is an Islamic School in Makkah, KSA founded in 1874 AD (1290 Hijra) by Rahmatullah Kairanavi, who was a well known Lecturer, Scholar & Imam at Al-Haram Sharif Masjid. Later on, Imam of Al-Haram and other Arabs were so much impressed by their Quranic uloom, tajweed and qirat that the locals started sending their kids at the Madrassah. A time came when Allah SWT blessed this place so much that, there was a rule that all Imams of Al-Haram should be qualified from Madrassah-Al-Sawlatiyah. (Wallah-O-Alam, Allah knows best).
  • Rahmatullah Kairanvi passed away during 1891 sometime, and not much known about Begum Sawlat-un-Nisa, not even about her death. When she recieved news regarding the setting up of the Islamic institution, she supported the proposal and donated a considerable amount for the noble cause. She was from the descendant of Syed Amanullah, residing at 26 Polak Street, Calcutta. Begum Sawlat-un-Nisa was aunt (Khala) of my grand-grand-father residing in Lucknow, India.
  • Visited Madrassah sometime in 1966 with my father when it was located in the near premises of Al-Haram. Original building of the Madrassah was demolished during 1970s sometime and replaced with a new building shifted on other location, due to the expansion of Al-Haram. I tried to locate the Madrassah several times during 1982/83 and later on but unable, when I was in or around Makkah Al Moazamma.
  • Madrassah is teaching both Hanafi and Shafi Fiqh and their curriculum is similar to that in India and Yemen. It was the only Madrassah for Quran Tajweed and its uloom at that time. It is still in existence and has well known alumni around the world. Madrassah is now located on Ibrahim Al Khalil Road, in the area of Al Kakiyah, Makkah 24352, KSA. It is in between 3rd and 4th Ring Roads.

Together there are other countable historical places to visit, which are not discussed here. Part-2 will cover different phases of development of Al-Haram through centuries.

Inexpensive ways to reward your Employees.

Recognizing and rewarding employees is important, and it’s important to do so correctly. A good employee recognition and reward system provides employees with three things – A fair return for their efforts, motivation to maintain and improve their performance.

The importance of Rewarding Your Employees. … Instead, this impact has to do with motivation, the rewards and incentives that help drive productivity. Multiple research studies and surveys across the years show that feeling appreciated is a key driver of employee engagement in the work-place.

An incentive program is a formal scheme used to promote or encourage specific actions or behavior by a specific group of people during a defined period of time. Incentive programs are particularly used in business management to motivate employees and in sales to attract and retain customers. When a company wants to encourage productivity among its employees, one option available is an employee incentive program. Employee incentives describe a system of rewarding success and effort in the workplace by allowing employees to earn prizes or recognition.

Top 10 ways to motivate your employees:

#1. Make your business a pleasant place to be –

No one wants to stay in boring space for hours and hours for the whole day. Having an aesthetically pleasing, well-lit, functional, and fun space makes work a lot more pleasant with efficient output. The first step is to make sure things are well-kept and that you have updated, working equipment. This means switching out that era back office computer, your glacial-paced point-of-sale system, or generally anything that people might want to throw out the window in frustration. It also means keeping things clean and nice looking. Maintaining your space doesn’t have to be expensive. Try featuring local artists or picking up interesting and unique furniture pieces. All these little touches will make things a lot more enjoyable for your employees.

#2. Be a respectful, honest, and supportive manager –

This may seem like no mental effort, but management is one of the top reasons employees run for the hills. Things like respect, honesty, support, and clear communication are the foundations here. But there’s a lot more you can do to be a great leader and mentor. If you’re new to this whole management thing, it’s worth reading some books on the subject – effective management, like any other skill, takes knowledge and practice.

#3. Offer employee rewards –

People will stay with your business if they have a reason to. So if you want to keep your good people and keep them motivated, it’s worth starting an incentive program. Maybe it’s a quarterly bonus. Maybe it’s a commission structure that’s better than the competition. Maybe it’s offering to foot the bill for additional credentials. Or maybe it’s even profit-sharing in your company. If people know they’ll be rewarded for a job well done, they’ll be a) … more likely to, well, do a good job, and b) … stay to see things through.

#4. Give them room to grow –

Especially if your business is rapidly expanding, giving your employees room to grow within the company is a huge motivator. There’s the dangling carrot of more money, yes, but there’s also the psychological factor of feeling like they’re trusted and respected for their work. If you’re opening up a second location, think about which of your employees might be a good fit for a management role there. If there’s someone who’s doing a particularly good job with inventory, consider grooming that person to take over vendor relations completely. When you give your best employees growth opportunities, it shifts their thinking from “this is just a side job” to “this could be a full-fledged career.”

#5. Share positive feedback –

It’s great to feel fulfilled by your work. In fact, it’s one of the key job satisfaction factors. Satisfaction in your work can come from a variety of places – from knowing you made the perfect cup of coffee to saving a house by removing a menacing tree. And if your customers express appreciation for these things, be sure to share that feedback with your employees. Letting your employees know they made someone’s day makes them feel good – and gives them a deeper connection to your business.

#6. Be transparent –

Having insight into how business is going makes your employees more invested. So make a point to share this data with them on a regular basis. You can send out daily, weekly, or monthly sales reports – or even information about how many of your customers are new versus returning. Having access to all this data not only makes your employees feel like they’re an important part of the business, it also helps point out areas where things could be improved.

#7. Offer flexible scheduling –

Technology has changed the way businesses operate, and it has also changed the way we work – or the way we can work. If employees are able (and expected) to check work email on their phones or finish projects on their laptops at home, it’s reasonable for them to want a similar flexibility from their employers when it comes to scheduling. And they do. 46 percent of respondents said that flexibility is the most important factor when it comes to job searching. And employers are paying attention: 86 percent of companies offered some type of flexible schedule. So, whether it’s a work-from-home opportunity or flex time, offer various scheduling options if you want to be viewed as a progressive employer and attract top talent.

#8. Offer food in the workplace –

Are good snacks the key to employee retention? Maybe. After all, nobody works well when they’re hungry. It seems so simple, but sometimes all you have to do to make people happy is to feed them. Obviously it’s not that simple–employees also have to be reasonably satisfied with their jobs. Yet food does make an undeniable difference. In fact, a survey found that more than 50 percent of employees say food-based perks would make them feel more valued and appreciated. It makes sense: When your employer pays attention to your physical needs, you get the impression that they care about you as a person–not just what you can do for the company. In the same survey, less than 40 percent said food perks would make them more likely to endorse their employer in a “best places to work for” survey, so not only will decent snacks help you keep your employees, it can also help you attract great new talent.

#9. Recognize their achievements –

Sometimes all people want is some recognition for a job well done. If an employee has been putting in a lot of time working on a project, or they went out of their way to help out a co-worker, do not hesitate to praise them. It’s not just about the act of recognition, but the principle: If people feel that their efforts are appreciated, they will feel compelled to continue working hard. Employees whose achievements were recognized also have reported that they experience higher levels of enjoyment out of the work they do. But if they feel like their long hours and personal sacrifices were for naught, it’s unlikely that they will go out of their way for the company again. So, whether it’s noting their contributions in a meeting, recognizing them in a staff email, or just thanking them privately, it’s imperative that you show hardworking employees your gratitude.

Having great employees who’ve been at your company for a while is a huge plus. Keeping employees motivated, especially during tough times is an important part of your business’ success. Long-time employees know the ins and outs of things, and they also make running your business a lot more enjoyable.

#10. Ask them what they want –

Instead of trying guess what’s most important to them, actually sit down with them and find out what they value. Crazy, right? Doing the unexpected might be the best thing you can do for your employees, and your company.

Many companies feel strapped right now and may duck their head and run in the other direction at the mere mention of bonuses. But tough times don’t mean that you shouldn’t reward your employees. There are many ways that you can reward employees without handing them over with money. Many are things you can do right now, with very little effort.

Here are countable rewards you can give that don’t include cutting a check:

* A pat on the back.

* A smile.

* A simple, sincere thank you handwritten note.

* A personal letter to the employee with copies sent to individual’s immediate supervisor and to the employee’s supervisor.

* Public recognition in front of peers.

* Public recognition in front of your boss.

* A letter of praise from a customer or vendor shared directly with the employee who delivered the services.

* A letter from a customer or vendor praising an employee, posted on company bulletin board.

* Listening to an employee who has an idea for improving efficiency and then acting affirmatively on that suggestion.

* Arranging employee discounts from your vendors or customers.

* Allowing the employee to work on an especially exciting project that he or she would usually not work on.

* Asking employees what non-monetary rewards they would like to have and, if possible, providing them.

* Issuing a ‘’You Were Mentioned’’ certificate to employees whenever you hear anything nice about them, whether from a customer, co-worker, or superior.

* Electing a high-achieving employee to a quality circle or to a company-wide task force.

* Bringing in coffee and donuts after a unit-wide effort.

* Providing free lunch for employees caught in the act of victory by an appointed group of the company.

* Rotating the ‘’company flag’’ or the symbol of excellence from deserving unit to deserving unit on a quarterly basis.

* Creating a small slush fund meted out to managers of deserving units to do something nice for the units and for employees of particular merit.

* To respect multicultural space in the office environment.

* Allow them to be flexible with their working hours.

* To identify and respect the gender equality, as far as it is possible.

* Identify and pick the talent, together provide chance to flourish.

* A reserved parking spot.

* Send a birthday card to them at their home address.

* Help them with gas prices by giving them a gas-card.

* Let them choose one or two days a week to work from home.

* Give them a new improved job title.

* Allow them to dress casually on Fridays.

* Keep the break room stocked with their favorite drink or snack.

* Provide them with some one-on-one mentoring.

* Create a relaxation room, where the employee can go during the day to read or even play a video game on their break.

* Many employees sit for at least eight hours a day. Reward their exceptional effort with a new comfortable, supportive chair.

* To keep an informal joint outing anywhere, outside of confined office environment. Preferably outdoor, which brings a big change for all type of personalities – yearly or twice a year, which will be more than a bonus.

All your hard work and appreciation of an employee can be destroyed in an instant if you yell at them, disrespect them in private and public. They won’t remember the 100 times you said you appreciated them. They will remember the one time what you was not supposed to do!

 

 

Facade Engineering

FACADE ENGINEERING

Facades give you the first impression of a building. The facades expose the unique of the particular building as well as being a part of larger context with the neighboring building characters in the cityscape, together with balanced masses arranged in the skyline of a city. You may experience the facades aerially, passing by with a high speed vehicle or walking around on foot. All scales to be taken into careful consideration in the context of architectural process in order to create an impressive & well functioning space.

The facades should all be treated different from one another. Some should even be treated differently in both shape & materials. Architectural treatment of buildings include form, materials, colors, transparency & shading and should be varied in respect to orientation to enhance energy saving opportunities. A sustainable design approach towards ecological balances & green architecture is always encouraged. Material & colors are naturally integrated parts of the façade architecture. As each façade contributes the overall context, creating a balance between colors & materials.

The use & special requirements for each building influences the architecture of facades. Careful consideration is taken, as how public & retail areas impact the facades. It totally depends about the main use & function of a building, replicating pedestrian movements in & around the building structures. Special requirements for the transparency of the facades in areas where facades should be open & welcoming in order to create a vibrant city.

As the facades shape the perceptions of the building & its context, they also serve the crucial function of a building providing shelter from weather & climate. The specific geographic conditions in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia & Middle East require special consideration in order to make shade on the facades & when selecting materials for the facades. Sustainable solutions are highly recommended for such situations.

CATEGORIES OF FACADES

The facades are described according to different categories, which depends on situation to situation & volume of work & development. Broad classification is as stated:

Landscape Facade: Landscaped areas to constitute an urban space , a cross point for people to meet for informal meetings , to have a break during the day or a day off with family, children & friends. Such green areas are somewhat to relax with the possibilities of hardscape elements, other landscape furniture around the building structures in the form of external areas.

Access Roads: The access roads supply the attractive green urban space while effectively managing a large amount of traffic. Buildings on such locations are highly exposed. The access roads are the internal road network from where all vehicular movement is distributed.

All buildings must be located within required building line. Building lining the access roads must sharply define corners, roads & squares. All facades on all buildings should be considered equally important architecturally. Front, side & rear facades shall have equal level of architectural quality. Building lining the access road sharply define the pedestrian area. The facades facing the access roads have their own identity. At lower level the façade shall be open & transparent towards the access roads

Streets: The streets are more local & have a lower speed limit. Supplying an attractive green urban space while managing the traffic. All buildings facing the streets must be located within the required building line. Building lining the streets must sharply define these & the pedestrian areas. The street facades have their own identity.

Cul de Sac: Cul de Sac is somewhat a pedestrian area with minor restaurants, retail spaces & tit bit shops & kiosks together with informal seating areas. All buildings must be located within the required building line. Buildings lining the Cul de Sac sharply define the pedestrian area. The facades towards the Cul de Sac will have their own identity. All facades of all buildings shall be considered equally important architecturally. Front, side & rear facades shall have equal level of architectural quality.

USE OF SOLAR PANELS ON FACADES

Solar panels can be used in the design of the facades in several ways which can reduce the overall usage of fossil fuels and CO2 gas emissions:

Outdoor shading: Recent advancements in solar energy have led to the development of various types of solar panels that can easily be mounted on the building envelope while maintaining the overall aesthetics of the structure. Solar panels not only contribute to the quality of the urban spaces by reducing CO2 gas emission & also serve the purpose of building grace with architectural form & identity. Outdoor parking space can be covered with photo-voltaic panels which can be used as shading devices for cars while producing energy which can be consumed for local use.

Solar panels produce energy at full capacity when placed perpendicular to sunlight. Outdoor parking spaces give the advantage of using panels more efficiently as they are placed on flat horizontal surface.

Solar cells as shade for the interior space: Photo-voltaic panels can also be used in interior spaces where light is not available frequently. New technologies have allowed the development of transparent photo-voltaic panels that can be used for interior design purposes. These panels come in different colors and sizes that not only beautify the interior space but can also generate energy in dim/low light conditions.  Such panels can be used in walkways and entrances where sunlight manages to transmit through exterior glass of the building. Triple glazed insulation units is one the advancements that needs special attention when designing the interiors of a building.

Integration on façade: Solar cells can be integrated as the primary material on façade or as secondary material on or in another material.

Maintenance for Solar Panels: Solar panels need regular cleaning & maintenance for them to sustain an optimal functionality. Both the solar panels on the roofs & the solar panels that are incorporated in the facades need special attention. Dust, sand dirt & pollution can cover them with a layer that prevents them from absorbing sunlight and affects efficiency.

Horizontal roofs are highly recommended as location for placing solar cells. Vertical facades may in some places be acceptable for placing solar cells. It is not recommended to place solar cells on the lower levels, because of shadows projected generally on such levels.

THERMAL INSULATION FOR BUILDING ENVELOPE

The parameter variation for thermal insulation regarding the building envelope is simulated without insulation & with an insulation thickness of 50 to 100 mm. In the thermal simulation the selected insulation material is expanded polystyrene with a thermal conductivity at 0.038 W/m2K. With a thermal insulation of 50 mm it is possible to minimize the cooling requirement & the total energy consumption with 30%. As a result, an insulation thickness of minimum 50 mm is recommended as the optimum thickness irrespective of the insulation type.

THERMAL INSULATION FOR WINDOWS

The parameter variation for thermal insulation regarding windows describes the effect of different window types. The model is simulated with three different thermal transmissions coefficient:

1.     Single glazing – 5.8 W/m2K

2.     Double glazing – 1.8 W/m2K

3.     Triple glazing – 1.0 W/m2K

By choosing double glazing compared to single glazing it is possible to minimize the cooling requirement & the total energy consumption with 20%. As a result , a window type with a thermal transmission coefficient <1.8W/m2K (double glazing) is recommended as an optimum solution.

NIGHT COOLING & VENTILATION

In a hot desert climate like Riyadh, Saudi Arabia high thermal mass with night ventilation can provide comfort even with high daytime temperatures because of low relative humidity & large diurnal temperature swings. The aim is to achieve an acceptable indoor climate with a lower cooling demand during the daytime.

The model simulates without night cooling & with air flows twice & four times per hour. Night cooling can be an effective solution to minimize the cooling demand. As a result, night cooling with airflow at minimum 2 times per hour is recommended as a good solution.

TRANSPARENCY OF FACADE

The parameter variation of transparency of façade describes the effect the window area has on the total energy consumption. The model is simulated with a dynamic span between 20% & 80% window areas of the outer wall. The effect is illustrated for the south & north oriented facades respectively.

Total energy consumption when the façade becomes more transparent – As a result, a window area of outer wall between 15% to 30% is recommended as an optimum solution for the south oriented facades.

Total energy consumption when the façade become more transparent – Compared to south façade, it is less dramatic. As a result, a window area of outer wall between 20% to 50% is recommended as an optimum solution for the north oriented facades.

INDOOR ENVIRONMENT

To meet the increasing demands of low energy consumption & a comfortable indoor environment & the general wishes for more sustainable buildings a prioritized design practice has to be adopted. An approach is suggested, focus  on increasing the quality of indoor environment because of the amount of time we spend inside & the economic benefits obtained from higher productivity.

Indoor air quality of a building varies. It is influenced by changes in building operation, occupant activity & outdoor climate. However it can be controlled by a combination of efficient source control & ventilation. To ensure a high quality of the indoor environment, & thereby ensure a high productivity. Is it very important to employ different design technologies at an early stage. All things effect each other, so it is not only a matter of designing an efficient ventilation system, as one also has to design a proper fenestration & shading system with regard to maximum daylight & potential overheating & choose materials with low emission rate. To ensure a high standard of the indoor environment & indoor air quality a prioritized method has to be adopted & all parameters effecting the environment taken into account.

INTELLIGENT DESIGN OF BUILDING ENVELOPE

The indoor environment is also affected by the thermal environment in the space. The thermal environment depends on several factors & is generally controlled by an efficient heating & cooling system. The heat gain from the sun may in periods effect the thermal environment & cause high temperatures in the space or in defined volume. Therefore, efficient shading has to be designed & implemented at an early stage.

DAYLIGHT

The controlled distribution of daylight in buildings is a cornerstone of sustainable & low energy design. Day lighting is a key to good energy performance, as well as occupant satisfaction, productivity & health. Day lighting must be addressed early in the schematic design because requirements for successful day lighting usually has major implications for building massing & zoning activities.

It is rather important to distinguish between direct sunlight & diffuse daylight. In most situations, direct sunlight causes excessive heat & light leading to visual & thermal discomfort. Natural daylight affects the need for artificial lighting, & with an effective use of the general daylight levels the cooling demand may be reduced to a reduction of the artificial lighting. By this assumption the total energy consumption may be reduced. Effective use of natural daylight includes a proper shading strategy that has to be implemented at an early stage. Knowing the applicable path of the sun round the year allows the designer to create a shading device, which provides shade when necessary.

SOLAR SHADING

In warm & hot climate like Saudi Arabia & Middle East a well designed & effective shading strategy is very important. Shading devices can reduce building heat gains from solar radiation significantly while maintaining opportunities for daylight, views & natural ventilation. The focus for placing shading devices is often on the window or skylight, but walls & roofs may also be shaded to help reduce heat gains through the opaque building envelope.

By implementing solar shading in early stage of the design process the overall cooling demand can be lowered. Different strategies & technologies are available, before implementing the right solar shading. Following requirements shall be considered:

·        Protection of direct sunlight – to ensure that direct sunlight does not penetrate the building.

·        Control of glare – the system should not only prevent direct sunlight, but should also control glare. This is of essential importance in offices, where computer screens are used.

·        Control solar gain – the system should reduce the level of solar gain entering the building. Installing the shading system externally, can reduce solar gain by up to 95% reducing or even potentially eliminating the need for air conditioning.

·        Maximization of natural daylight – when external light level is low, the shading system should be able to be retracted to optimally use of the natural daylight available.

·        Protection from cold – the shading system should be able to help insulate the building by reducing the amount of light cooling during winter months.

·        Communication – the system should allow a view to the exterior ensuring that the building occupants do not feel cut off from the outside world & their surroundings.

·        Different solutions for shading have been chosen – without shading / internal roller blinds / coated glass / fixed internal blinds / dynamic external blinds / façade depth / overhang / double skin façade / double skin façade with fixed external blinds.

Using of different types of solar shading it is possible to lower the total energy consumption with 15% to 30%. As a result, external solar shading like horizontal blinds or well designed overhang should be considered as integrated parts of the façade design. A shading device should not compromise the other amenities that a window can provide – namely daylight, views & breezes. External shading devices do not necessarily have to be separate objects attached to a building exterior. Recessed window openings & façade geometry can allow a building to act as its own shading device.

FACADE LIGHTING

Lighting concept usually focus on the design themes of overall architectural massing, defining vertical & the separation of architectural volumes. Main entrance having its own importance, perhaps integrating dynamic & animated lighting installations. Low level lighting to establish a strong base for the upper volume & to establish a reference for pedestrian movements in & out of the building structures. The main facades glow at night through the interior usage , emphasizing the function of the building.

The lighting to the landscape creates a strong but calming atmosphere & responds to the functional approach of public & semi-public areas. Lighting to trees & water features enhances the feeling of being in an outdoor space. Lighting at the pathways provides functional illumination as well as a strong effect with the character of individual space.

LOCAL CONDITIONS

City of Riyadh in Saudi Arabia is lucky to have abundant global solar radiation, which causes the climate to become hot & dry. The average solar radiation is 6 kWh/m2, which is much bigger at least three times as compared to European countries. One of the key issues when making sustainable designs is therefore to harvest the vast amount of solar energy & deploy an effective shading strategy to reduce overheating. In general special consideration to be taken to optimize the energy consumption of the buildings & extensive measures have to be taken in order to create a comfortable climate & environment.

Internal & external spaces combine & work together, creating a lively & comfortable hierarchy of interior defined volumes & exterior unlimited three dimensional space dominating the human scale & identifying the miracles of our great nature.

My travel back to Pakistan {(C) memory-lane from 1987 to 1997}:

After returning back from Pakistan, my wife also joined me after a couple of months in Kuwait. Almost it took less than a year to visit the important touristic spots again in the State of Kuwait. Ultimately we planned to return back to Pakistan for good by 1987. We almost visited the same places, what I discussed in my earlier post of “My Travel to Kuwait {(B) memory-lane from 1980 to 87}” dated February 2, 2018.

We packed up completely back to Pakistan during first quarter of 1987 to settle down in Karachi, as I planned to practice on my own sometime in future. Initially I joined a local developer’s consultancy to keep my wheels rolling, together started working slowly on my own. For several years I worked for them, but later on relied as a part timer. Together also started providing consultancy services to others, but later on concentrated and looking after more business in construction and landscape work.

We started with a small office and then expanded slowly with much larger space for office work. Mostly we were having residential projects on turnkey patterns with designing and construction work as a complete package.

We also performed research and development work on agro-farming with the collaboration of a local consultant in Karachi, with standard plots of various sizes varying from ½ acre to 2 acres. It was a repetitive standard model starting from the province of Punjab, and further expanding to other provinces of Pakistan under Self Help Project scheme. We also participated in countable design competitions arranged under the banner of the professional bodies.

As the time passed we allocated partial space of the office for academic purpose, and started with a school of art & architecture offering summer courses. We started with the short courses in sketching, painting, designing, drafting, interiors, landscaping, model making, building materials, construction supervision and computer graphics. As the demand increased, we also opened another branch in other posh area for the surrounding catchments. Later on we started concentrating to expand in other parts of the country, for the possibilities of future construction activities.

My Travel to Islamabad/Lahore {(C1) during 1990}

As a part of consultancy and construction activities travelled to Islamabad and Lahore, for the possibilities of housing projects in both the cities with the collaboration of well-known local contractors. It was a time consuming process to travel back and forth for attending the important meetings, coordinating with the relevant developmental authorities and visits to the possible future proposed sites.

My Travel to Islamabad/Peshawar {(C2) during 1992}

As a part of consultancy travelled to Islamabad and Peshawar, for the possibilities of recreational cum landscape work near Charsadda and Daulat Pura, Peshawar. It is a beautiful spot with low mountains between 2 rivers, where the cold water of glaciers come from northern parts of Pakistan and normal water from other areas. This spot is the junction of 2 rivers, which was supposed to be developed through Peshawar Development Authority (PDA) and Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC). PTDC was already having limited number of touristic cabanas for the tourists with very limited facilities for the local and international tourists.

I was on the mission of performing feasibility studies of the touristic spot with the collaboration of a Japanese organization. Number of meetings were managed with the high officials of PDA and PTDC for almost a year, but due to frequent changes of the responsible individuals our team faced lot of hurdles to take the initial processing of the project to an end.

My Travel to Sukker {(C3) during 1994}

As a part of consultancy services also travelled to Sukker several times which is a big city in the interior part of the province of Sindh, for the possibilities of another recreational cum landscape project near Sukker Barrage beside Indus River. This project was for children, near by the coastal strip of the River. Feasibility studies were conducted for the recreational park for children, with the facility of electronic based equipment with welcoming landscaped areas.

Soon our small team realized during 1994/95 that all this hassle is more political, rather than the spirit to serve the nation for the acute housing shortage or recreational facilities. Corruption and political influences forced us to think again to concentrate back on the metropolitan city of Karachi, which was somewhat far better than other parts of the country at that time.

Bureaucracy and the political challenges:

The country has had a problem of corruption since it came into being. The bureaucratic influence was also strong before 1970s in the western province, while the eastern province retained a majority of the population. There is a growing need to reform accountability and anti-corruption policies at higher levels with the state government earlier and even now. Such non-comfortable practices started forcing the professionals like us to think again about some other alternative options, as we were also in the row of parents having growing children like other children of the nation. Ultimately I started folding my activities during 1996/97, together was able to secure a job in KSA on a world class project. Main purpose of taking the job was to study the business opportunities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Stay in KSA will be discussed in the next coming post, as I already have countable posts on KSA during the start and mid of 2018.

Now I realize that unfortunate political conditions start from beginning were under its worst conditions, which prolonged in the same way on country level until very recently and now. Corrupt bureaucracy and specific hierarchy of influential personalities damaged the entire country badly, who are still sitting in the political corridors of the national system. Political interference opened doors for corrupt political practices to seep into the nation’s economic planning processes, resulting the entire nation in the clutches of corruption. New IMF Policy on corruption also to hit member states, including Pakistan. Unfortunately the country was completely spoiled during the last few decades, and the economy has been paralyzed by its debt. The country’s debt is more than double now, which is an alarming situation.

There are a few of the major corruption scams and scandals reported and exposed in the main stream, which were/are under investigation. Before 2002 the electronic media was entirely dominated by state owned institutions, like Pakistan Television Corporation and Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation. This monopoly was opposed, when the specific regime regulated the electronic media allowing the private television channels to be operated independently. Since the liberalization of the electronic media in 2002, it has served as a major force in exposing corruption-related cases and scams.

Recently August/September 2018 elections turned the political game upside down, which is somewhat favorable in cleaning the corrupt bureaucracy of the country. Today Pakistan is facing lot of social problems as some are very common, which are destroying our society and also economy of the country. Such other social problems like poverty, illiteracy, population growth, terrorism, smuggling, and drug abuse etc. . . . . . . Now the only solution appears to be through fast accountability of the corrupt elements, so that the country may be cleaned and put on some specific defined system of progress. Pakistan is badly in need of a model, to enforce on the corrupt elements of the state. Network of such lobbies are strong enough in the hierarchy of politics. Recent political victory in Pakistan could bring stability and has a great potential for the big change in future, which will be beneficial for the younger generations and the generations to come.

No doubt, there is always a balance in the law of nature – we all know what happened in Iraq, together I am afraid that Afghanistan is going to turn out to be the greatest disaster in the global foreign policy, even worse than Vietnam in terms of its law unintended consequences and its reverberation throughout the region. Simply we all need peace, where peaceful people may live peacefully.

 

Hajj & the Festival of Sacrifice (Eid-Ul-Adha)

Muslim community celebrates two Eid festivals in the cycle of the year. Eid al-Fitr & Eid al-Adha. The second, known as the Greater Eid or Eid alAdha, commemorates the willingness of Ibrahim to sacrifice his son Ishmael as an act of obedience to Allah. Eid alAdha is also known as the Festival of Sacrifice. Here I will discuss Eid al-Adha, which is strongly linked with the Festival of Sacrifice.

We have broad classification of the months round the year, as Solar (Gregorian) Months and Lunar (Hijri) Months. To understand the system easily, the methodology is as mentioned below:

  1. January for solar and Muharram for lunar.
  2. February verses Safar.
  3. March verses Rabi’al-Awwal.
  4. April verses Rabi’ al-Thani.
  5. May verses Jamada al-Awwal.
  6. June verses Jamada al-Thani.
  7. July verses Rajab.
  8. August verses Sha’ban.
  9. September verses Ramadan.
  10. October verses Shawwal.
  11. November verses Dhul al-Qa’dah.
  12. December verses Dhul al-Hijjah.

As per the solar, new year starts in January. In the same way as per lunar, it starts in Muharram. Haj period starts in the twelfth month of lunar, which falls under the Islamic calendar of the year.

The calendar is a lunar calendar and months begin when the first crescent of a new moon is sighted.  Confirmations of actual dates by moon sighting are applied on the 29th day of the lunar month prior to Dhu al-Hijjah to announce the specific dates for both Hajj rituals and the subsequent Eid festival. The three days after the listed date are also part of the festival. The time before the listed date the pilgrims visit the Mount Arafat and descend from it after sunrise of the listed day. Since the Islamic lunar calendar year is 11 to 12 days shorter than the solar year. The Islamic day starts after sunset. The estimated start and end dates of Dhul al-Hijjah migrates throughout the season, based on Umm al-Qura calendar of Saudi Arabia is as stated:

  • 1437 (AH) – – – September 2, 2016 {First day (CE / AD)} – – – October 1, 2016 {Last day (CE / AD)}
  • 1438 (AH) – – – August 23, 2017 {First day (CE / AD)} – – – September 20, 2017 {Last day (CE / AD)}
  • 1439 (AH) – – – August 12, 2018 {First day (CE / AD)} – – – September 10, 2018 {Last day (CE / AD)}
  • 1440 (AH) – – – August 2, 2019 {First day (CE / AD)} – – – August 30, 2019 {Last day (CE / AD)}
  • 1441 (AH) – – – July 22, 2020 {First day (CE / AD)} – – – August 19, 2020 {Last day (CE / AD)}
  • 1442 (AH) – – – July 11, 2021 {First day (CE / AD)} – – – August 8, 2021 {Last day (CE / AD)}

Dhul al-Hijjah is the twelfth and final month in the Islamic calendar. It is very sacred month in the calendar, one in which Hajj (pilgrimage) takes place as well as the festival of sacrifice. “Dhu al-Hijjah” literally means “Possessor of the Pilgrimage” or “The Month of the Pilgrimage”. During this month the Muslim pilgrims from all around the world congregate at Mecca to visit the Kaaba. The Hajj is performed on eighth, ninth and tenth of this month. Day of Arafah takes place on the ninth of the month. Eid al-Adha, The Festival of Sacrifice” begins on the tenth day and ends on the sunset of thirteenth. Special days of Dhul al-Hijjah are:

  • The first nine days of Dul al-Hijjah for fasting
  • The first ten nights of Dhul al-Hijjah for Qiyaam (standing) in Tahajud
  • The 8th, 9th and 10th of Dhul al-Hijjah as the days of Hajj
  • The 9th of Dhul al-Hijjah as the day of Arafah
  • Takbirat is observed from the 9th to 13th of Dhul al-Hijjah
  • The 10th of Dhul al-Hijjah as the night of Eid
  • Eid al-Adha (Festival of the Sacrifice) begins on the 10th of Dhul al-Hijjah and ends on sunset of 13th Dhul al Hijjah
  • Eid al-Adha also called the “Festival of Sacrifice” is the second of the two Islamic holidays celebrated worldwide each year and considered holier of two.

The following acts have been prescribed for the first nine days of Dhul al-Hijjah:

  • A person should give extra charity, as Sadaqah in these 10 days
  • Try to spend time in the Masjid
  • Perform voluntary Nafl prayer at home
  • Recitation, memorization and the reading of the Quran
  • Fasting the first nine days Sawm
  • Dhikar, Dua and if possible, then I’tekaf

On the days of Qurbani (Sacrifice), ie 10th, 11th and 12th Dhul al-Hijjah, the greatest action is the spilling of blood of a sacrificial animal (Qurbani).

Eid al-Adha is celebrated for one, two or three days. Common greetings during this holiday are the Arabic greeting ‘Eid Mubārak (“Blessed Eid”) or ‘Eid Sa‘īd (“Happy Eid”). In addition, many countries have their own greetings in the local language – in Turkey, for example, a typical saying might be Bayramınız kutlu olsun or “May your Bayram – Eid – be blessed.” Muslims are also encouraged on this day to forgive and forget any differences with others or what that may have occurred during the year.

Typically, practising Muslims wake up early in the morning – – – always before sunrise – – -offer Salatul Fajr (the pre-sunrise prayer), and in keeping with the traditions of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) clean their teeth with a toothbrush, take a shower before prayers, put on new clothes (or the best available), and apply attar.

Devotees offer the Eid al-Adha prayers at the mosque.The Eid al-Adha prayer is performed any time after the sun completely rises up to just before the entering of Zuhr time, on the 10th of Dhu al-Hijjah. In the event of a force majure (e.g. natural disaster), the prayer may be delayed to the 11th of Dhu al-Hijjah and then to the 12th of Dhu al-Hijjah.

Eid prayers must be offered in congregation. Participation of women in the prayer congregation varies from community to community. It consists of two rakats (units) with seven takbirs in the first Raka’ah and five Takbirs in the second Raka’ah. Salat al-Eid differs from the five daily normal prayers, in that no adhan (call to prayer) or iqama (call) is pronounced for the two Eid prayers. The salat (prayer) is then followed by the khutbah, or sermon, by the Imam.

At the conclusion of the prayers and sermon, Muslims embrace and exchange greetings with one other (Eid Mubarak), give gifts and visit one another. Many Muslims also take this opportunity to invite their non-Muslim friends, neighbours, co-workers and classmates to their Eid festivities to better acquaint them about Islam and Muslim culture.

During Eid al-Adha, distributing meat amongst the people, chanting the takbir out loud before the Eid prayers on the first day and after prayers throughout the four days of Eid, are considered essential parts of this important Islamic festival.

The takbir consists of:

الله أكبر الله أكبر
لا إله إلا الله
والله أكبر الله أكبر
ولله الحمد
Allāhu akbar, Allāhu akbar
lā ilāha illā-Allāh
Wallāhu akbar, Allāhu akbar
walillāhi l-ḥamdu

Men, women, and children are expected to dress in their finest clothing to perform Eid prayer in a large congregation in an open waqf (“stopping”) field called Eidgah or mosque. Affluent Muslims who can afford it sacrifice their best halal domestic animals (usually a cow, but can also be a camel, goat, sheep) as a symbol of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his only son. The sacrificed animals, called aḍḥiya, known also by the Perso-Arabic term qurbāni, have to meet certain age and quality standards or else the animal is considered an unacceptable sacrifice.

The meat from the sacrificed animal is preferred to be divided into three parts. The family retains one-third of the share; another third is given to relatives, friends, and neighbors; and the remaining third is given to the poor and needy. Though the division is purely optional wherein either all the meat may be kept with oneself or may be given away to poor or needy, the preferred method as per sunnah of Muhammad (PBUH) is dividing it into three parts.

Muslims wear their new or best clothes. Women cook special sweets. They gather with family and friends. They also visit cemeteries.

Broad outline of any festival is the celebrations that focuses on a theme, and may run for hours to weeks. The theme of a festival might be an area of interest or an aspect of the community in which the festival being held, such as the community’s history or culture. Festivals are often periodical, usually held annually.