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Great news IGers: Select who can view your stories

 

Yes! Now you can get really personal on your Instagram social media, with the Close friend feature introduced by the application.

You can handpick people from your followers who will view your stories by using this feature, and it will be hidden room your other followers and the public. Awesome right!

Instagram is helping you achieve your privacy need as the social media world keeps expanding every second. For someone that has the mom or dad, or that nosy aunt or a stalker on your list, you can successfully keep your activities awa from him/her.

Here’s all you have to do;

Make sure your app is the most recent version,

  • Go to your Profile page by tapping the profile icon in the bottom right-hand corner of your screen.
  • Tap the three lines icon in the top right corner of your screen.
  • Tap Close Friends and then tap Add next to the names of people who you want to add to your Close Friends list. You can also tap Search to search for a friend.
  • Once you’ve finished adding people to your list, tap Done.

You can easily add more or remove from this list using similar process.

 

And just like regular Instagram Stories posts, your story will be available to view for only 24 hours for your Close Friends list.

 

 

Here’s how to share a story to your close friends:

  • Tap the camera icon on the top left corner.
  • Choose an image or video you intend to share.
  • Once you do that, you will see two icons at the down left side of your screen with “your story” and “close friends” text underneath.
  • Tap close friends and voila done

Once you’ve posted an Instagram story to your Close Friends list, your profile image will appear with a green circle around it, both on your Profile page (which only you can see) and in your Close Friends’ feed.

The green circle helps it stand out from the other pink circles that usually highlight an account has live Instagram Stories posts you haven’t seen yet. Others that are not on your list can’t see it.

 

 

By Mariam Haruna

haroonmaream3@gmail.com

Court fixes $2bn FG, MTN case for 2019

By Newsdesk

The federal High Court sitting in Lagos will commence hearing on the $2 billion tax dispute between Federal Government and South African telecoms firm MTN Group.

According to the Court registrar, the hearing would commence on February 2019.

In a statement released on Monday, the court registrar disclosed that the hearing would commence February 7, 2019.

A judge was scheduled to hear the case on Monday but a registrar stressed that the court would not sit and the hearing had been moved to February.

MTN faces a $2 billion tax demand from the country’s attorney general, a claim which the company has said is without merit.

Blackberry unveils new brand to rival infinix, Techno, others

By Newsdesk

In a bid to rival Infinix, Techno and other android in Nigeria, Blackberry Mobile has unveiled Blackberry KEY2 LE, an Android version of Blackberry smartphone in the Nigerian market.

The re-born icon Blackberry brand is being sponsored by Ngilex Mobile Ltd, basically to take over the market it once control.

At the unveiling on Monday in Lagos, the Chief Executive Officer, Ngilex, Kingsley Obaji, said that with the Blackberry KEY2 LE, the company was targeting larger part of the market share in Nigeria by end of 2019.

Obaji stressed that said that Nigeria was 7th in the world in terms of cell phone usage; hence, the Nigerian smartphone market had to be taken seriously, saying, that was why it was the first to receive and market the Blackberry KEY2 LE smartphone.

He said that the KEY2 LE came at a time when the Nigerian market was looking for a different smartphone option.

The CEO stated that Blackberry was ready for the competition in the market, as it had the best product that would enable it becomes the leader in the smartphone market in a couple of years.

According to him, Ngilex Mobile wants Blackberry phones to be organic, to be part of Nigerian smartphone business; hence, is looking at what the market demands.

“Nigerian market demands the best. The market is large; the Nigerian users are smart and looking for better options. We are looking at capturing some five per cent to 10 per cent market share within the next year and this requires a lot of efforts in marketing and outreach,” he added.

The Ngilex boss explained that the new product brought together iconic Blackberry features; with new experience that included dual-SIM, dual-rear camera, more intelligent keyboard, extended battery life and improved privacy controls.

He said that the Blackberry KEY2 LE ran the latest Android 8.1 Oreo operating system and provided access to millions of applications in the Google Play store.

According to him, the company brings values of productivity, reliability and security to the next level.

“Talking about productivity, the BlackBerry KEY2 LE has all the features you need to manage your work, travel, and personal life on the go.

“This includes support for dual personal accounts and business ready software that makes it easier to manage all aspects of your business and personal life.

“The BlackBerry KEY2 LE is the first BlackBerry with dual account management built in to enable you to separately manage both personal and professional social media profiles on apps like Facebook and Instagram.

“All Blackberry devices we are bringing into Nigeria are dual SIM enable and will support dual WhatsApp and other apps that require unique numbers.

“In Nigeria, most cell phone users are carrying multiple phones on multiple carriers. You can have these lines on a single device, while avoiding carrying the power bank that most users are used to here in Nigeria,” he said.

Obaji said that the phone came with BlackBerry Hub, which brought all your messages into one consolidated place – including emails, texts and messages from almost any social media account; including WhatsApp.

He said that for reliability, the phone had power to get one through the day with enhanced battery features.

“The BlackBerry KEY2 LE features a powerful and efficient Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and battery that can stay powered through a full day and often into a second day of use (22 hours of mixed usage).

“With contextual battery reminder, the BlackBerry KEY2 LE will learn from your daily charging habits and calendar appointments to recommend when to charge.

“This is to ensure you have the battery power to get through important meetings, trips, and events. Never get caught out again with suddenly needing to charge before going flat.

“Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 enables up to 50 per cent charge in just 36 minutes. Turbo Charge your battery and get power fast, to do more, when you need it most.

“The BlackBerry KEY2 LE includes enhanced security and built-in privacy features right from the start,” he said.

Earlier, Vice President, Ngilex Mobile Ltd., Thomas Larson, explained that the new product has unique features that distinguished it from other in the market.

Larson said that the phone combined the best of professional and personal use and the price could not be matched.

“All our phones come with standard one-year warranty provided by McDorsey Services Company Ltd., ” he said.

Made-in-Africa smartphone hits market

By Newsdesk

After several years of wait, Africa has joined the league of continents producing their smartphones in accordance with the peoples specification.

To launch Africa into the league, the continent’s high-tech player, Mara, yesterday, announced the production of their newest product the Maraphone – the first made-in-Africa.

“China has Huawei, Xiaomi; the U.S has iPhone and finally Africa has Maraphone,”

Founder of Mara Group, Ashish Thakkar, told newsmen at the final day of the Africa Investment Forum, that full-scale of it’s smartphone would soon be manufactured in plants across Africa.

“This project will show the potential and ability that Africa can produce high quality and affordable smartphones in Africa, by Africans, for Africans and for the rest of the world.

“We are extremely grateful for the African Development Banks push in this sector which greatly encouraged our progress,” Thakkar said.

The Maraphone phone, a first-of-its-kind in the history of Africa, will produce high quality and affordable smartphones to primarily serve the population of Africa and also with the aim to export to other continents such as Europe.

“This is going to be totally transformative and create thousands of direct jobs,” Thakkar added.

While global manufacture of phones is on the rise and expected to hit a billion in the next few years, none of them are produced on the continent, Thakkar lamented.

The initial target market for the phones would be first-time African smart phone users, while the first manufacturing plants are to be located in Rwanda and South Africa.

President, African Development Bank (ADB), Akinwunmi Adesina, hinted that the value of the continent’s mobile money would skyrocket very soon and could be catastrophe if Africa does not produce the needed tool for such.

“By 2020, the value of Africa’s mobile money industry is projected to top $14 billion. We need African-developed mobile phones to leverage this potential. Africa is bold, strong and innovative. Africa’s time is now,” Adesina added.

Mara Corporation is an African Group headquartered in Kigali, Rwanda, started from a small IT business in East Africa to the globally recognized multi-sector investment group that exists today.

Through its investments, Mara Corporation now employs over 14,000 people across 26 African countries in sectors spanning technology, financial services and energy. Mara’s key focus is to do good & do well at the same time.

Facebook hires Britain’s former deputy PM

By Business Desk,

Facebook has hired former UK deputy prime minister Nick Clegg to lead its global affairs and communications team, making him the most senior European politician ever in a leadership role in Silicon Valley.

The appointment comes at a time when the world’s largest social network is facing criticism from users and lawmakers following scandals about privacy and election meddling.

Clegg was the leader of Britain’s Liberal Democrats, the minority partner in the Conservative-led coalition that ruled Britain between 2010 and 2015.

He served as deputy prime minister to David Cameron, but was ousted after the Conservatives won a majority in 2015 in an election that saw Clegg’s party suffer a significant loss of support.

Clegg lost his own seat in Britain’s parliament in a general election last year.

Clegg, 51, succeeds Elliot Schrage and will report to Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operation officer.

China launches world’s largest drone

By News Desk,

The world’s largest unmanned transport drone has been successfully launched by China.

The drone which can carry a payload of 1.5 tonnes was tested at Baotou test site in North China’s Inner Mongolia autonomous region.

The large commercial drone Feihong-98 (FH-98) was developed and modified by the China Academy of Aerospace Electronics Technology.

It was adapted from the prototype of the Shifei Y5B, a China-developed transport plane.

As China’s first fully domestically-built transport aircraft, the Shifei Y5B has a history of over 60 years since its first flight in 1957 and has been widely used.

According to Liu Meixuan, president of the China Academy of Aerospace Electronics Technology, the FH-98 features simple take-off and landing, simple operation, advanced technology, at an affordable cost.

The FH-98 has a maximum takeoff weight of 5.25 tonnes, a maximum capacity of 1.5 tonnes and 15 cubic metres, a flight height of 4,500 metres, a cruising speed of 180 kilometers per hour, and a maximum range of 1,200 kms, the report said.

China has been making advances in the development of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

On October 9, state media reported that China will sell 48 of its Wing Loong II high-end reconnaissance and multi-role Chinese drones to its all-weather ally Pakistan.

Eight surprises from Apple’s big iPhone XS event

By Business Desk,

For Apple fans, the wait for yesterday’s big press conference seemed like it was going to last an eternity. Details surrounding Apple’s next-generation iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR began leaking more than a year ago when the world’s top Apple insider revealed that Apple had three new iPhone models planned for 2018. The flow of leaks has been constant all year long, painting a clearer picture with each passing day. Then, just one week before Apple’s big event, nearly all the remaining details leak when Apple accidentally posted iPhone XS and Apple Watch Series 4 marketing materials on its website.

We definitely knew almost everything there was to know about Apple’s next-generation iPhones and Watch models before Apple executives even took the stage on Wednesday. That said, they still had a few tricks up their sleeves to surprise us with. In this post, we’ll recap the only eight big surprises from Apple’s press conference.

Prices

We had a good idea that this year’s new iPhone models were going to be expensive, but holy moly we had no idea just how expensive they were going to be. In fact, rumors suggested that the new iPhone XS would start at $899 this year instead of $999. Sadly, that’s not the case at all. It’s funny, though: last year Wall Street analysts flipped out when Apple announced the iPhone X starting at $999. This year, Apple’s top-end iPhone is even more expensive than a MacBook and Wall Street is loving it.

Here’s how pricing breaks down for the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max:

iPhone XS

  • 64GB: $999
  • 256GB: $1,149
  • 512GB: $1,399

iPhone XS Max

  • 64GB: $1,099
  • 256GB: $1,249
  • 512GB: $1,449

That’s right, boys and girls, Apple is about to start selling an iPhone that costs more than $1,500 after taxes. What a time to be alive.

Where the iPhone XR is concerned, things are even worse. Rumors suggested the XR would be a lower-cost alternative to the iPhone XS and XS Max, with the iPhone XR likely to start at around $650. Unfortunately, that’s not the case at all. It’s cheaper than Apple’s other new iPhones, but not by much.

iPhone XR

  • 64GB: $749
  • 128GB: $799
  • 256GB: $899

iPhone XR release date

There were a few rumors here and there that said Apple might have to delay the release date for the iPhone XR due to manufacturing difficulties, but most people didn’t pay them any mind. According to those rumors, Apple’s partners were having problems with light leakage around the outside of the phone’s LCD display, and they needed more time to iron out the wrinkles. Whether that’s the case or Apple just wants to make sure that as many early adopters as possible go for the more expensive iPhone XS or iPhone XS Max, it turns out that the iPhone XR won’t be released until next month. Pre-orders open on October 18th with a release to follow on October 26th.

No AirPower

Remember that really cool wireless charging mat that Apple unveiled more than a year ago? Well reports suggested that Apple would finally announce release information during yesterday’s event. Instead, Apple removed any and all mention of the AirPower from its website. No one really knows what’s going on, but if you really want a wireless triple charger you can already get one on Amazon.

Faster Face ID

This is one of those rare instances when the world’s top Apple insider, TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, was wrong. Stop the presses!

Kuo reported many months ago that Face ID wouldn’t undergo any changes on this year’s new iPhones. That… isn’t the case at all. Instead, Apple upgraded both the hardware and the software that handles Face ID. Improvements to the TrueDepth camera system and to the A12 Bionic SoC will apparently give Face ID a big speed boost, and tweaks on the software side will help things even further.

New cameras

Apple improves the cameras on its iPhones every year so we expected some type of improvements, but we had no idea what they would be. Apple ended up announcing what may end up being the most impressive smartphone camera system in the world when the iPhone XS and iPhone XS MaX are released next week.

The new camera still has two 12-megapixel sensors, one with a wide-angle lens and the other with a telephoto lens. All of the components in the camera system have been upgraded though, and the sensor is now twice as fast

In addition to hardware changes in the camera itself and software enhancements like Smart HDR, the new A12 Bionic chipset has an upgraded image signal processor (ISP) that further improves photo processing speeds and image quality.

Depth effect

There’s plenty to look forward to with Apple’s upcoming new iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max camera, but one feature in particular came as a surprise. It wasn’t just a surprise because it hadn’t been revealed in rumors, but also because it’s something no other camera in the world can do. On Apple’s new iPhones, you can actually adjust the depth of field in a Portrait Mode photograph after you’ve taken the picture! Even more impressive is the fact that the iPhone XR has this feature as well, despite the fact that it only has a single-lens rear camera. It’s likely not quite as impressive as it is on the iPhone XS and XS Max, but it’s still another industry first.

A12 Bionic

We obviously knew that Apple would reveal its next-generation processor alongside its new iPhones. We also knew the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max would be the first smartphones in the world to ship with 7-nanometer chipsets. What we didn’t know, however, is just how massive an upgrade the A12 Bionic would be.

This industry-first 7nm SoC has a 6-core CPU with two high-performance cores and four high-efficiency cores. The cores can run independently or all the same time, depending on the tasks at hand. The A12 also has a new 4-core GPU that is 50% faster than the A11’s GPU, and there’s an upgraded 8-core neural engine and a brand new image signal processor (ISP) as well. Apple says the A12 Bionic can process 5 trillion operations per second, which compares to 600 billion in the A11.

A12 Bionic in the iPhone XR

Last but certainly not least, the fact that the iPhone XR is also powered by the A12 Bionic SoC came as a big surprise. Rumors positioned the iPhone XR as an upper mid-range phone that would feature more modest specs and pricing that started in the $600 range. The phone’s specs are a bit less impressive than the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, but just barely. In fact, the iPhone XR will end up being more powerful than most flagship Android phones over the year to come.

Since rumors positioned the iPhone XR as a sort of iPhone SE upgrade, many people assumed that it would be powered by last year’s A11 Bionic chipset so that Apple could keep costs down. That’s not the case though, and the iPhone XR gets the same impressive A12 Bionic SoC as the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max.

Apple’s iPhone eSIM could be a big deal

By Business Desk,

Apple has introduced a technology called eSIM into its latest iPhones that could open new revenue streams for the tech giant, analysts have said — but it will have to balance its relationship with major carriers around the world.

The iPhone XR, XS and XS Max will all have dual-SIM capabilities. This means that a user will be able to have two separate phone lines. One will be via a traditional physical SIM card and the other will be an eSIM or embedded SIM.

The technology will theoretically allow a user to change carriers without having to order a new SIM card or go to a shop. Instead, they could just sign up digitally.

This is useful if you’re traveling abroad and want a temporary local number. Or if you want to have your work and personal numbers on the same device.

Dual-SIM hasn’t really been a popular option in countries including the U.S. and U.K., but is liked by consumers in emerging markets such as India, a country where Apple has had a small market share. Dual-SIM could prove very popular for users in these markets. Apple has had eSim technology previously in its iPad Pro and is not the first smartphone maker to offer it.

But the eSIM option could open new business models for Apple, according to analysts.

“The eSIM will be controlled by Apple and it can dictate which carriers to partner with, support and show relative mobile plans,” Neil Shah, research director at Counterpoint Research, told CNBC by email on Thursday.

“So Apple can be the gatekeeper now since it will have control over eSIM. Thus it will demand a revenue cut for the activations happening through eSIM.”

Shah said that Apple could also offer its own tariffs that are white-labeled by other mobile providers and charge a “premium for the convenience and ease of activating a new plan.”

Ian Fogg, vice president of analysis at OpenSignal, backed up that view in a LinkedIn post Thursday, saying Apple could introduce its own data tariffs “to take charge of more of the end-to-end mobile network experience.”

However, this is unlikely because of the complexities of doing so and the reliance on mobile networks.

“Apple’s ability to deliver the complete mobile network experience will remain limited even if it offers its own mobile tariffs using eSIM, because of Apple’s continued reliance on wholesale services from the mobile operators which own both spectrum and network infrastructure,” Fogg said.

“The mobile operators are not going away any time soon. Apple knows this and will continue to work with them.”

Still, Apple’s move with the eSIM is likely to worry mobile carriers because it could allow users to switch providers quickly, heating up competition in what is a tough market for many operators.

“Introducing dual SIMs in all markets is a bold move by Apple and something that will give mobile operators a lot to think about,” Ben Wood, chief of research at CCS Insight, said in a note Wednesday.

“The potential for new business models is limited while Apple continues to offer a physical SIM card slot alongside the eSIM capability. But, if it eventually decides to get rid of the physical SIM it will have significant implications for how customers buy airtime in the future.”

But it’s hard for carriers to ignore right now and Apple has done well to get major names on-board. In the U.S., AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon are all signed up. In India, major telcos Reliance Jio and Airtel will offer services.

Neil Campling, co-head of the global thematic group at Mirabaud Securities, told CNBC by email on Thursday: “Carriers can’t complain as they need to offer Apple devices, but Apple is just making it easier for users — and ease of use has always been the MO of Apple products. What this will likely do is accelerate price competition at the carrier level and could increase churn rates… which is never a good thing for carriers, of course.”

MTN Nigeria replies CBN on illegal repatriation of $8.1 billion

By Business Desk,

MTN Nigeria on Thursday refuted the claims by the Central Bank of Nigeria that it illegally, in collusion with four Nigerian banks repatriated $8.1billion from its Nigerian operations to offshore investors.

The CBN said the remittances between 2007 and 2015, in tranches of of 2.63 billion dollars, 1.766 billion dollars and 348 million dollars were done in flagrant violation of the rule that says it can only be done with regular ‘Certificates of Capital Importation (CCIs)’ issued by the apex bank.

The CBN said MTN did the repatriation after illegally converting shareholders’ loan of $399, 594,146 to preference shares. As part of the sanctions, four banks, Stanbic IBTC Nigeria, Citibank Nigeria and Diamond Bank Plc,were fined by the CBN.

Standard Chartered Bank would pay a fine of N2.47 billion, Stanbic IBTC, N1.88 billion, Citibank Nigeria, N1.26 billion and Diamond bank, N250 million.

Funso Aina, Public Relations Manager, Corporate Affairs/Corporate Relations MTN denied the claims by the CBN

“MTN Nigeria received a letter on Aug 29 from Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) alleging that Certificate of Capital Important (CCIs) issued in respect of the conversion of shareholders’ loans in MTN Nigeria to preference shares in 2007 had been improperly issued.

`As a consequence they claim that historic dividends repatriated by MTN Nigeria between 2007 and 2015 amounting to $8.1 billion need to be refunded to the CBN.

“MTN Nigeria strongly refutes these allegations and claims.

“No dividends have been declared or paid by MTN Nigeria other than pursuant to CCIs issued by our bankers and with the approval of the CBN as required by law,” he said.

Aina said that the issues surrounding the CCIs had already been the subject of a thorough enquiry by the Senate of Nigeria.

He added that in September 2016 the Senate mandated the Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions to carry out a holistic investigation on compliance with the Foreign exchange (monitoring and miscellaneous) Act by MTN Nigeria & Others.

He said that in its report issued in November 2017, the findings evidenced that MTN Nigeria did not collude to contravene the foreign exchange laws and there were no negative recommendations made against MTN Nigeria.

“MTN Nigeria, as a law-abiding citizen of Nigeria, is committed to good governance and to abide by the extant laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“The re-emergence of these issues is regrettable as it damages investor confidence and, by extension, inhibits the growth and development of the Nigerian economy.

“We will engage with the relevant authorities and vigorously defend our position on this matter and provide further information when available.

CBN’s spokesperson, Isaac Okorafor, said the apex bank has written MTN Nigeria demanding a refund of the $8.13 billion, repatriated.

The Bank resolved to sanction the commercial banks following investigations in March 2018, which confirmed allegations of remittance of foreign exchange with irregular Certificates of Capital Importation (CCIs) issued on behalf of some offshore investors of MTN Nigeria.

Pilgrims in millions descend on Mecca, with smart apps

By News Desk,

Two million Muslim pilgrims gather in Saudi Arabia this week for the hajj as the annual pilgrimage becomes increasingly hi-tech with apps to help the faithful navigate Islam’s holiest sites.

This year the hajj comes with the ultra-conservative kingdom witnessing an unprecedented pace of change, finally ending a ban on women driving while remaining firm in the face of any dissent.

One of the five pillars of the world’s fastest-growing religion, the hajj is expected to draw two million people from around the globe this year.

By Thursday, more than 1.6 million people had already arrived in Saudi Arabia for the pilgrimage, which runs from Sunday to Friday.

Thousands could be seen arriving in Mecca, with groups from different countries wearing distinct colours to set them apart.

Some pilgrims pushed their elderly relatives on wheelchairs while others stopped to call family members back home on video chat or buy ice cream as temperatures soared above 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit).

For many, it is their first time away from home.

Every Muslim is required to complete the hajj at least once in their lifetime if they have the means to do so.

Many were visibly moved to be so close to Islam’s holiest site — the Kaaba, a black masonry cube in the centre of Mecca’s Grand Mosque.

“I feel as light as a feather,” said Senegalese Fame Diouf, who travelled from Amsterdam. Laughing, she recounted the story of how she couldn’t stop crying near the Kaaba.

“This was my dream from childhood,” said Raja Amjad Hussein, who made the trip to Mecca from Pakistan.

“I can’t explain. I have no words,” the 40-year-old told AFP.

“For many Muslims this is the big, the biggest, dream of life, to see Kaaba and pray for yourself and the whole Muslim nation.”

No matter their race or nationality, for every pilgrim hajj begins with “ihram”, the donning of an all-white outfit.

For men, this is a seamless tunic worn over baggy pants; for women, a loose dress with only the face and hands exposed.

Pilgrims then perform rituals around the Kaaba and on the Mount Arafat plain east of Mecca.

The hajj ends with Eid al-Adha, a three-day feast which starts with the “stoning of the devil”.

Eid al-Adha also includes the slaughter of sheep, with the meat distributed to Muslims in need. The ritual symbolises Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son, Ishmael, on the order of God.

The hajj presents the Saudi authorities with major logistical challenges.

The Pew Research Centre says the number of Muslims in the world is expected to rise from 1.8 billion in 2015 to three billion in 2060.

This year, the Saudis have launched a “smart hajj” initiative, with apps to help pilgrims with everything from travel plans to medical care.

Asefny, for example, is an app launched by Saudi Arabia’s Red Crescent to help pilgrims request emergency medical attention.

Authorities are able to locate those in need through the app.

The Saudi hajj ministry also runs the Manasikana app, which provides translation for pilgrims who do not speak Arabic or English.

The 2018 pilgrimage comes amid a widening crackdown on political dissent in Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy aggressively pursuing a campaign to clean up its image as one of the world’s most restrictive countries.

It also comes more than a year into the worst political crisis to grip the Gulf, pitting regional heavyweights Saudi Arabia and Qatar against one another.

Saudi Arabia — the world’s largest exporter of oil — and its allies accuse Qatar of cosying up to both Sunni Islamist extremists and Shiite Iran, Riyadh’s greatest rival.

They have cut all ties with Qatar and banned all flights to and from Doha. Qatar denies the charges.

Qatari pilgrims are still permitted into Saudi Arabia for hajj.

Iranian pilgrims are also in attendance this year. Tehran had temporarily suspended sending its citizens to hajj following a 2015 stampede that left around 2,300 pilgrims dead, including hundreds of Iranians.

Saudi Arabia has drawn harsh criticism for a crackdown on political dissent since the appointment last year of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whose modernisation campaign has grabbed headlines around the world.

More than a dozen women’s rights campaigners were detained and accused of undermining national security and collaborating with enemies of the state in recent weeks.

Some have since been released.