Saudi Arabia’s Haramain train project expected to serve 30 million pilgrims

Madinah Gov. Prince Faisal bin Salman on board the high-speed Haramain train from Madinah to Makkah on Friday.
Updated 18 March 2018

Saudi Arabia’s Haramain train project expected to serve 30 million pilgrims

JEDDAH: The high-speed Haramain train’s importance to Saudi Arabia has been highlighted with an announcement by King Salman that he will rely on the super-fast service for his next visit to Madinah.
The city’s governor, Prince Faisal bin Salman, expressed his appreciation to the Saudi ruler for his support of public transport in the Kingdom, and especially for the high-speed Haramain 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 used the high-speed rail for the journey to Friday prayers at the Grand Mosque of Makkah.
“The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman, has informed me of his intention to take the Haramain high-speed rail soon when he visits Madinah or departs from it to Makkah,” Prince Faisal said.
Among passengers for a journey that left Madinah on Friday were Prince Faisal, Minister of Transportation and chairman of the Saudi Railway Organization Nabil Al-Amoudi, and Chairman of the Public Transport Authority (PTA) and acting head of the Saudi Railways Organization Rumaih bin Mohammed Al-Rumaih.
Prince Faisal highlighted the importance of the project linking Makkah and Madinah through Jeddah and King Abdullah Economic City in Rabigh in light of efforts to receive 30 million pilgrims as part of Vision 2030 program to diversify revenues.
He said the Haramain high-speed rail link was among the safest and most important transportation services in the world. The rail service will enhance the flow of visitors to the Two Holy Mosques through the link between the two holy cities.
The Madinah governor expressed confidence in the performance of the Saudi youth and the services they provide at the stations.
“What I saw invites me to register my honor and pride in the significant role played by young men and women in all stages of the development, including their effective contribution and participation in establishing and implementing the high-speed rail.”
Al-Amoudi said the support of Prince Faisal had made it easier to meet the challenges faced by work teams building the Haramain station in Madinah and the related phases within the time frame of the project.
He said the SR60 billion ($16 billion) high-speed train is on track to be fully operational this year.
Al-Amoudi said the pilot operation has been going to plan since the end of 2017. Project supervisors have organized regular trips in which a large number of governmental, non-governmental and charitable bodies have participated.
He said the PTA was focused on taking transport in the Kingdom to another level, guaranteeing opportunities for nationalization and thus achieving the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.
The Haramain train station was proof of the Kingdom’s competence in achieving such projects, he said.
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 carry 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 three kilometers from the Grand Mosque in Makkah, while the Madinah station is located in the Knowledge Economic City on King Abdul Aziz Road.

King of Latin pop Enrique Iglesias launches Ad Diriyah festival

Spanish superstar Enrique Iglesias performs at the launch of a three-day festival of music, culture and motorsport on Thursday in Ad Diriyah, near Riyadh. (Twitter)
Updated 27 min 34 sec ago

King of Latin pop Enrique Iglesias launches Ad Diriyah festival

  • Enrique Iglesias took the stage in an outdoor arena in historic Ad Diriyah
  • The cheers were deafening, the excitement electric and the performance magical

RIYADH: Spanish superstar Enrique Iglesias launched a three-day festival  of music, culture and motorsport on Thursday with a stunning concert at an outdoor arena in historic Ad Diriyah.

The king of Latin pop took the stage by storm and stole the hearts of thousands in the crowd, whose screams could be heard from a long way away. “I love you Enrique,” a group of girls in the audience shouted.

As he waved his hand back and forth in the air, the crowd started doing the same while jumping up and down. The cheers were deafening, the excitement electric and the performance magical. 

No theatrics were excluded as displays of fireworks and lasers wowed the audience. The singer asked the crowd if they spoke Spanish, and everyone screamed “Yes.”

While stage smoke poured into the arena a female performer sang a duet with Iglesias, who then delighted the crowd with some impromptu salsa dancing in front of the stage.

Fans waved their uplifted phones with their screens and flashes along with the music, while others tried to capture the performance.

“You can run, you can hide but you can’t escape my love,” sang Iglesias while the crowd screamed.

Earlier the R&B singer, songwriter and dancer Jason Derulo persuaded the crowd to put on their dancing shoes with an energetic set.

“Saudi, whassup! This is a dream come true for me! Since we are in Saudi Arabia I want to do things a little different,” he told the audience. He said his mother taught him to never visit empty handed, so his gift to Saudi Arabia was the debut performance of a new song.

Thursday’s entertainment will be followed on Friday by shows from Arab music star Amr Diab and the Black Eyed Peas. The climax of the festival comes on Saturday with the Saudia Ad Diriyah Formula E Grand Prix motor race, followed by headline performances by OneRepublic and the megastar DJ/producer David Guetta.