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Saudi sterilises Kaaba over Coronavirus fears Hajj 300x158

From Jerusalem to Mecca , Muslims across the Middle East held Friday prayers under the shadow of the new coronavirus , with some gatherings cancelled and others subdued because of the deadly outbreak .
The highly contagious disease is believed to be transmitted through close contact and authorities globally have moved to restrict large gatherings, including public prayers .
In Mecca , Islam ’s holiest site was uncrowded after reopening on Friday following disinfection .
“ The fact that it is empty is very scary ,” an Egyptian worshipper who has lived in Mecca for more than 20 years told AFP .
“I had a very strange and difficult feeling as I was headed to the mosque. I felt deprived of the Kaaba , ” he said .
The area around the Kaaba , a large black cube structure inside Mecca ’s Grand Mosque, was closed Thursday for sterilisation .
Friday prayers at the Grand Mosque normally attract hundreds of thousands of worshippers , while this week only tens of thousands attended.
The mosque’ s imam prayed for an end to the epidemic during his sermon , while praising Saudi Arabia ’s decision to suspend the year – round umrah pilgrimage over fears of the new coronavirus .
“God , I seek refuge in you from the calamity and the epidemic ,” said Sheikh Abdullah Awad Al -Juhani .
– Regional epicentre –
In Iran , which has the most COVID – 19 cases in the region, authorities have faced accusations of mismanaging the response to the outbreak .
In total 4 ,747 cases have been reported in the country , with 124 deaths.
Authorities cancelled weekly prayers in Tehran and provincial capitals .
In Iraq , prayers were cancelled in the holy Shiite city of Karbala, home of the mausoleum of the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed .
For the first time since 2003 no one delivered the sermon of Ayatollah Ali Sistani , the highest authority for millions of Shiite Muslims .
In the city of Najaf , however , campaigning by Shiite cleric Moqtada al – Sadr forced authorities to re – open the Imam Ali mausoleum , which had been closed for disinfection .
The first new coronavirus case in Iraq was identified in Najaf , which attracts millions of Iranian pilgrims annually .
– The Holy Land –
In the Palestinian territories , the first seven COVID -19 cases were confirmed Thursday , with a further 19 reported so far in Israel .
At Jerusalem ’ s Al- Aqsa mosque, the third holiest site in Islam , weekly prayers proceeded despite the Palestinian government announcing a state of emergency Thursday evening .
The mosque is managed by the Jordan Waqf ( religious organisation) , but entrances are controlled by Israel — which has banned gatherings of more than 5 ,000 people .
An AFP photographer said inside the mosque was full but the large open spaces outside — usually filled with people — were empty .
A number of worshippers wore face masks , the photographer said .
“This Friday the number of worshippers is less than last week ,” said Ammar Juwalis after praying .
“It is required of us to pray each Friday . We are trying to be careful about corona ,” the 35 – year -old said .
Jerusalem ’s Old City was unusually quiet at Friday lunchtime, an AFP journalist said , with only a few tourists wandering around , some wearing masks .
In Bethlehem , a Palestinian city about 10 kilometres ( six miles ) south of Jerusalem , authorities closed the Church of the Nativity , built on the site where Christians believe Jesus was born.
The Palestinian territories ’ first COVID – 19 cases were confirmed in a Bethlehem hotel Thursday , after a group of Greek tourists visited.
Israeli authorities have banned tourist buses and visitors from Bethlehem from entering Jerusalem .
At Jerusalem ’s Western Wall , the holiest place where Jews can pray , new restrictions mean than only 5 ,000 people can visit at a time .

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CBN devalues naira as market defies interventions

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CBN devalues naira as market defies interventions naira nigeria

CBN devalues naira as market defies interventions naira nigeria 300x201

 

The Central Bank has technically devalued the naira to exchange to the dollar at N380 .
The apex bank took this decision after all interventions in the market , such as imposing sanctions on errant operators and use of moral suasion to curb illegal forex operations did not sustain the exchange rate of N360 .
In a circular to the operators in the sector , the CBN merged the rates at both the Bureau De Change rate and Import & Export window at N 380 .
Under the new dispensation , the CBN would make the dollar available to the BDCs at N 378 , which would be sold at N 380 .
The President, Association of Bureaux De Change Operators of Nigeria , Aminu Gwadabe , said the merger of the different rates became necessary to build confidence in the sector .
He said this would make it impossible for those dealing in illegal operations and speculators to be profitable .
Gwadabe said it was an unacceptable situation for operators to access the dollar below N 360 and be selling at between N 370 and N375 .
“There is a circular on it; we are to be buying at N 378 and sell at N380 , ” he said .
He said the rise in the exchange rate was not due to genuine demand because people were not really travelling or importing goods.
“The situation cannot remain like this ; things will improve. If coronavirus goes , we will get over it,” he said .
It would be recalled that in the previous week , the naira exchanged between N 405 and N 420 to a dollar in the BDC segment of the market .

This was attributed to the crude oil price which fell drastically in the international market and this raised speculations among the BDC operators and Nigerians in general .
ABCON had said the movement was as a result of recklessness on the side of the operators when they wanted to speculate .
It said there was no reason for that because the CBN had continued to maintain support for liquidity to the BDC subsector .
Before then , the CBN had maintained the exchange rate at about N360 for more than three years .
However , the CBN had said it was working with the fiscal authorities to properly ease the impact of the coronavirus and ensure a sound and stable financial system .

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After the ban of Okada and Keke Napep, see what Lagosians will start using for transport

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After the ban of Okada and Keke Napep, see what Lagosians will start using for transport.

After the much criticsed ban of okada and keke napep the governor on seat, Babajide Sanwo-Olu has brought another means of transportation for the people of Lagos.
Lagos State Government has officially commenced commercial waterways transportation, with the official dispatch of eight recently procured speed boats by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Tuesday.
The event marked the start of LAGFERRY’s commercial transportation operations in waterways. A smartphone application designed to facilitate quick access to water transport services was also introduced by the Governor.
Sanwo-Olu disclosed the speed boats, which will be worked by the Lagos Ferry Services (LAGFERRY), at a function held at Badore Ferry Terminal in Eti-Osa Local Government Area.
The occasion denoted the start of business tasks of LAGFERRY’s commercial transportation operations in waterways . A smartphone application designed to facilitate quick access to water transport services was also introduced by the Governor.

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