31,000 officers deployed in Makkah for Ramadan

Updated 17 July 2013
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31,000 officers deployed in Makkah for Ramadan

The Saudi government has beefed up security in Makkah to protect millions of pilgrims from different parts of the world coming to perform Umrah and attend prayers at the Grand Mosque during Ramadan.
“We have deployed about 31,000 men inside and outside the Grand Mosque to ensure the safety and security of the guests of God,” said Brig. Maeed bin Musleh Al-Joaid, deputy commander of the special forces. Speaking to reporters, he said: “Our aim is for pilgrims to have peace of mind, so they can concentrate on their prayers.”
The security force officers can speak different languages including English, Urdu, French and Persian to communicate with visitors. “Some of them know sign language,” he added.
Apart from crowd control, security officers will offer various humanitarian services. They will also organize the movement of worshippers between gate 87 on the west side of the mosque and gate 32 on the northern side before and after each prayer.
Brig. Masoud Al-Odwani, commander of support forces in Makkah, said 14,500 additional officers have been deployed in the city, bringing the total to 31,000 including traffic police.
He said the additional officers provide back up for the special forces, including Haj and Umrah forces and traffic police. “All these forces have been in place since Monday,” he added. Col. Saeed Al-Qarni, director of the patrol police in Makkah, said his staff would work around the clock, adding that 40 field leaders have been appointed to organize their work. “There are about 300 teams including secret police.”
Col. Talal Al-Motairy, assistant director of traffic, said his officers have been placed along the roads leading to Makkah to control traffic and divert vehicles to parking areas outside the city.


EXCLUSIVE: Saudi singer-songwriter Tamtam releases music video ahead of historic end to driving ban

Updated 22 June 2018
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EXCLUSIVE: Saudi singer-songwriter Tamtam releases music video ahead of historic end to driving ban

  • Singer-songwriter Tamtam has released a music video to coincide with the day her fellow countrywomen make history
  • In an exclusive interview with Arab News, the LA-based musician said she hopes the song inspires women to see that with patience and perseverance anything can happen. 

JEDDAH: With the long-awaited day when Saudi women can finally drive drawing near, a Saudi singer-songwriter based in Los Angeles has written a song to mark the historic occasion.

Called simply “Drive,” Tamtam’s take on the breakthrough reform covers a range of emotions: Happiness, pride and even surprise.

Millions around the world shared the news that Saudi women would be allowed to drive when it was announced last fall, and with all the preparations taking place, the singer wanted to take part in the best way she could. So she wrote the lyrics to a song that mirrored the exciting events ahead.

Tamtam’s release focuses on the themes of freedom, equality and empowerment that she has explored in her music since the start of her career in 2012.

In an exclusive interview with Arab News, the LA-based musician said she hopes the song inspires women to see that with patience and perseverance anything can happen. 

“If I had to use one word to describe the feeling, it would be hope. Women in Saudi are ready to have a bigger voice and become more independent.

“This is a huge step forward for all of us. The country is showing us that they know we are ready, and they are here to support us and help launch us forward,” said Tamtam. 

Her song’s lyrics include the words: “We know what we want, we know it’s our time, let go of past perceptions, tomorrow is mine, we got drive” — suggesting that it’s time to look forward and stop looking back at what once was.

The verse mirrors the narrative many Saudis are sharing with the world, empowered by the dramatic changes Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is accomplishing with Vision 2030 and beyond. 

Tamtam, inspired by the late Michael Jackson, started singing aged 15. She wrote her first single, “Little Girl,” while attending high school in California after her family moved to the US from Riyadh. Her singing and songwriting have been influenced by events around her, always related to current issues with a twist of optimism. 

Whether it’s her strong vocals or hauntingly beautiful voice, Tamtam’s music transcends expectations. This young Saudi is singing and making a name for herself in the City of Angels, and her positive energy is reflected in her music.

As Saudis embrace a host of reforms, Tamtam believes many Westerners are shocked by the news. Yet people forget that Saudi is a relatively young country and more good changes will come, she said. 

“With hope comes more aspirations, dreams, new achievements and positive energy.”

The “Drive” video is uplifting, with playful, artistic imagery, and soulful and empowering vocals. The singer and her friends wear white, representing peace and femininity, and drive a yellow Ford Mustang convertible (Tamtam’s dream car). 

“Whenever I’m in a car, especially if there is traffic or it’s a long drive, I always turn on music to put me in a better mood. Driving is so much more enjoyable with music,” said Tamtam. “I hope that this song will be blasting through car speakers everywhere.” 

So the question is: Will Tamtam get her Saudi license, too?

“Yes, I can’t wait,” is the answer, obviously.