Posted by Rafiq A. Tschannen
JEDDAH: New development projects worth more than SR 1.1 billion have been implemented at the holy sites of Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah as part of the government’s efforts to enhance facilities for the annual Haj pilgrimage.
The announcement was made by Habib Zain Al-Abidine, head of development projects at the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs, yesterday during a meeting with Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal.
The governor was on an inspection tour of Haj facilities and arrangements at the holy sites. Prince Khaled urged government officials to put extra efforts to impress foreign pilgrims.
“Everybody should work hard to take care of the guests of God by providing them with all the necessary services to help them perform their Haj rituals comfortably and return to their countries with good memories about Saudi Arabia and its people,” he said.
Prince Khaled stressed the importance of the Haj awareness campaign titled “Haj is Worship and Civilized Behavior” and urged pilgrims to uphold the noble message and spirit of Haj, following the regulations set by the government for the smooth and successful management of the annual event.
He commended the government for implementing new development projects at the holy sites for the welfare of pilgrims and thanked Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah for allocating huge funds for Haj welfare projects.
The Haj is scheduled to start on Oct. 24. More than 1,056,000 foreign pilgrims have already arrived to take part in the annual event. As many as 1,003,149 pilgrims arrived by air, 42,479 by land and 11,034 by sea.
The governor began his tour from the third floor of the Jamrat Bridge in Mina, where he was greeted by Makkah Mayor Osama Al-Bar, Zain Al-Abidine and other top officials. He later watched maps and models of new development projects implemented in the area.
Prince Khaled inspected the tunnels that would link Aziziya with the Jamrat. The new tunnels would facilitate the movement of pilgrims coming from Makkah to perform the stoning ritual.
The governor also inspected the road system and tents in Mina and the new projects carried out to reduce congestion of vehicles in Makkah roads during the peak Haj season.
The inspection tour also covered the new slaughterhouses in Muaisem, the new center for Red Crescent services, the new center for stranded pilgrims and a project for building modern lavatories at the holy sites.
Prince Khaled also inspected a new IPR system in Shumaisi, which enables automatic reading of number plates of vehicles that pass by the Makkah-Jeddah Expressway.
The new automatic system would help traffic authorities to allow passage of authorized vehicles during the peak Haj days, avoiding long queues of vehicles and delays.
Cameras installed at the checkpoint would be able to read the number plates quickly and prevent entry of unauthorized vehicles to Makkah and other holy sites.