KSA’s Haramain train speeds toward a 2018 opening

Saudi officials and foreign visitors are seen in one of the Haramain train couches during a test-run of the mass transport system last year. (SPA file photo)
Updated 17 March 2018
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KSA’s Haramain train speeds toward a 2018 opening

MADINAH: The SR60 billion ($16 billion) high-speed Haramain train is on track to be fully operational this year, according to Minister of Transportation and Chairman of the Saudi Railway Organization Nabil Al-Amoudi.
He said that the service will be functional for the public in 2018, in conformity with all safety measures and operational readiness for high-speed transportation.
Al-Amoudi said the pilot operation has been going to plan since the end of 2017: The project’s supervisors have organized regular trips in which a large number of governmental, non-governmental and charitable bodies have participated.
The latest passengers were Madinah Gov. Prince Faisal bin Salman, Al-Amoudi and the Chairman of the Public Transport Authority (PTA) and acting Head of the Saudi Railways Organization (SRO) Rumaih bin Mohammed Al-Rumaih, onboard for a journey that left Madinah on Friday.
Prince Faisal expressed his appreciation to King Salman for his support of public transport in the Kingdom, and especially for the high-speed train. The project is part of the Kingdom’s role in serving pilgrims to the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the visitors to the Prophet’s Mosque.
Prince Faisal praised the performance of the young men and women providing services in the train stations, effectively participating in the establishment phases and implementation of the service.
Meanwhile, Al-Amoudi said that the support of Prince Faisal had made it easier to face challenges and encouraged the work team to build the Haramain station in Madinah and the related phases within the time frame of the project.
Al-Amoudi stressed the PTA’s drive to take transport in the Kingdom to another level, guaranteeing opportunities for nationalization and thus achieving the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.
He said that the Haramain train station was proof of the Kingdom’s competence in achieving such projects.
The Haramain service is one of the biggest public transport projects in the Middle East, a 450 kilometer two-way electric train linking Makkah and Madinah, with extensions to Jeddah and King Abdullah Economic City.
The project will transport 60 million passengers a year on 35 trains, with a seating capacity of 417 per train and traveling at a speed of 300 kph.
The station is about 3 km from the Grand Mosque in Makkah, while the Madinah station is located in the Knowledge Economic City on King Abdul Aziz Road.
Umrah visitors, who are expected to reach about 15 million by 2020, are eagerly waiting for the full operation of the Haramain train, which will cross the distance between the two holy cities in two hours instead of six hours by bus.
The project includes four train stations in Makkah, Jeddah, King Abdullah Economic City and Madinah, in addition to a fifth station at the new King Abdul Aziz Airport.


Plans afoot to expand teaching of Chinese in Saudi Arabia

Updated 2 min 22 sec ago
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Plans afoot to expand teaching of Chinese in Saudi Arabia

  • Move to set up language learning in various stages of education in Saudi Arabia
RIYADH: The Ministry of Education launched the “Teaching Chinese Language in Education” workshop at the ministry’s headquarters in Riyadh on Saturday.
It was attended by the Chinese ambassador to the Kingdom, officials from the Chinese Embassy, presidents of Saudi universities and education officials in the Kingdom.
Saudi Education Minister Hamad bin Mohammed Al-Asheikh said that the inclusion of the Chinese language in the various stages of education in the Kingdom stemmed from the desire to diversify the language tools in education, based on the strategic and economic importance of the Chinese language now and in the future.
He also stressed the importance of having a clear plan to qualify a number of teachers in intensive programs for up to a year to teach Chinese for the target stages, which could include selected schools from the secondary level in different regions in the first three years.
“There is a plan for numerical expansion, based on the requirements and expansion of the intermediate educational stage,” he said. “This expansion should be accompanied by training a number of teachers in programs developed in cooperation with the Chinese side for a year and with the department of external education to qualify teachers to teach Chinese.”
King Saud University reviewed the experience of teaching the Chinese language in the workshop, indicating that it started to introduce Chinese in 2010, and has graduated 35 students so far. They are currently working in the ministries of foreign affairs, media and a number of military sectors. They were used in translation programs, accompanying Chinese delegations, and during the pilgrimage seasons.
“When we say China or the Chinese economy is expected to be the primary economy (in the world) in eight years, this means establishing a strong relationship with this economy based on the common interests of the two countries,” Al-Asheikh said.
He said that the overall strategic goal of teaching Chinese was to make it the third language parallel to English and with the same level of horizontal and vertical spread in the two education systems.
Al-Asheikh expressed his optimism about the strategic direction of increasing cooperation between the Kingdom and China as great economies and civilizations.