800,000 more pilgrims due this year after Makkah grand mosque expansion

1 / 2
A Saudi official welcomes Hajj pilgrims at King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah. (SPA)
2 / 2
A helicopter patrols above the Grand Mosque for the security and safety of pilgrims. (SPA)
Updated 20 August 2017
0

800,000 more pilgrims due this year after Makkah grand mosque expansion

MAKKAH: Some 800,000 more pilgrims are expected this season following completion of expansion works at the Grand Mosque.
A report by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said this year’s Umrah season witnessed the arrival of some 7 million people.
The ministry is working with pilgrimage institutions to raise capacity for future Umrah and Hajj seasons, and to establish a modern hospitality industry in line with Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Program (NTP) 2020.
The report cited infrastructure achievements in Makkah, Madinah and the holy sites to provide better services for pilgrims and visitors.
It also cited strategic initiatives launched by the ministry, such as the electronic observation and control center to connect pilgrim service centers with decision-makers and improve coordination between all parties involved in Hajj.
The report highlighted the ministry’s “Be Helpful” voluntary program, which is being implemented for the first time this Hajj season.
The program aims to serve pilgrims, develop services offered to pilgrims, and gauge the performance and effectiveness of voluntary work.
The report said the ministry is aware of the importance of enhancing the role of women in serving pilgrims via official and seasonal jobs.
Meanwhile, Salwa crossing on the Saudi-Qatari border continues to receive pilgrims, with Saudi authorities welcoming them and facilitating their entry.
The number of Qatari pilgrims reached 213 as of Saturday.
All pilgrims arriving from Qatar have their names registered at the crossing, and enter without the need for electronic permits.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) previously announced the dedication of seven flights to take Qatari pilgrims from Doha to Jeddah.
The CAA said the flights are scheduled for Aug. 22-25, with return flights on Sept. 5.
The director of passports at Salwa, Col. Hassan Al-Dussari, stressed the preparedness at the crossing to receive Qatari pilgrims, and said 11 counters have been dedicated to their service.

Committee formed to ensure pilgrim accommodation safety
Prince Abdullah bin Bandar bin Abdul Aziz, deputy governor of the Makkah region, ordered the formation of a multilateral committee to ensure the safety of buildings dedicated to accommodating pilgrims.
The committee comprises representatives from the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, the Civil Defense and Tawafa establishments, in cooperation with specialized technicians and engineers.
Prince Abdullah presided over a meeting of Tawafa and Zamazemah establishments, which was attended by Minister of Hajj and Umrah Mohammed Salih Bentin and heads of the institutions.
The deputy governor reviewed plans for this year’s Hajj season, which aim to serve more than 2.2 million pilgrims.
The role of these establishments in providing all services to pilgrims from arrival to departure was also discussed.
More than 2,600 employees work in Tawafa establishments in 497 offices, serving pilgrims from 162 countries.
16 aircraft to be deployed
during Hajj
Sixteen aircraft with state-of-the-art equipment will be deployed during Hajj, said Maj. Gen. Mohammed bin Eid Al-Harbi, commander of the General Air Force.
He made the announcement as he toured Madinah accompanied by representatives of security services.
He said the aircraft can monitor pilgrims’ movements, will know if they need assistance, and can identify infiltrators or those without Hajj permits.
Each aircraft is equipped with night-vision systems, thermal cameras, modern communications, and medical and ambulance equipment, Al-Harbi added. They will be staffed by crews with experience in past Hajj seasons. He said security aviation has different roles such as monitoring security and traffic situations from the air; sending immediate reports to the flight security operations center; passing information to the command and control center and the joint operations room; and intervening in case of accidents.
“The General Command of Air Aviation is ready to provide any support required by all parties participating in the service of pilgrims,” he added.


Saudi MERS outbreaks killed 23 over four months: WHO

Updated 18 June 2018
0

Saudi MERS outbreaks killed 23 over four months: WHO

  • The latest figures take the number of confirmed cases to 2,220 since September 2012, including 1,844 from Saudi Arabia
  • The disease is hard to spot, partly because it often infects people with an underlying condition such as diabetes, renal failure or chronic lung disease

GENEVA: Outbreaks of the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) killed 23 people in Saudi Arabia between Jan. 21 and May 31 this year, the World Health Organization said on Monday.
The deaths were among 75 laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS coronavirus (MERS-CoV) during the period, the WHO said, and take the total number of deaths from the disease to 790 since it was first diagnosed in humans in 2012.
The latest figures take the number of confirmed cases to 2,220 since September 2012, including 1,844 from Saudi Arabia.
One outbreak in February hit a private hospital in Hafer Albatin region, where the patient passed the disease to three health workers. There was another cluster of six cases in a hospital in Riyadh in the same month, although no health care workers were infected.
Two other clusters affected households in Jeddah and Najran.
MERS-CoV is a member of a virus family ranging from the common cold to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. It appears to have emerged in humans in Saudi Arabia in 2012, although it has been traced in camels, the source of the infection, back to at least 1983.
The disease is hard to spot, partly because it often infects people with an underlying condition such as diabetes, renal failure or chronic lung disease.
But it kills one in three sufferers, and hospital workers are at risk unless extreme caution is taken to identify MERS sufferers early and to protect health care workers from infection via airborne droplets such as from coughs and sneezes.
Susceptible people should avoid contact with suspected cases and with camels, and anyone who has contact with animals should wash their hands before and afterwards, the WHO said. Everyone should avoid drinking raw camel milk or camel urine, or eating undercooked meat.
Three MERS cases have been reported this year outside Saudi Arabia. Oman and the United Arab Emirates each reported a case, while in Malaysia a man fell ill after drinking unpasteurised camel milk during a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.