How Saudi Arabia’s fleet of aircraft provide round the clock security to millions at the Grand Mosque in Makkah

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Pilgrims circumambulate the Kaaba during Ramadan (Arab News photos by Ziyad Alarfaj)
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The Grand Mosque in Makkah can be seen with the clock tower in the foreground (Arab News photos by Ziyad Alarfaj)
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Pilgrims circumambulate the Kaaba during Ramadan (Arab News photos by Ziyad Alarfaj)
Updated 13 June 2018
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How Saudi Arabia’s fleet of aircraft provide round the clock security to millions at the Grand Mosque in Makkah

  • It runs continuous missions to keep an eye on Makkah’s traffic conditions and the Grand Mosque from the sky
  • Recorded data is transferred directly to the necessary authorities, where procedures are put in place to enhance security and ease traffic

JEDDAH: The Ministry of Interior’s General Security Aviation Command, with its advanced fleet of aircraft, is the main element in the authorities’ security plans for the Grand Mosque this Ramadan. 

It runs continuous missions to keep an eye on Makkah’s traffic conditions and the Grand Mosque from the sky. Arab News accompanied the Security Aviation aircraft in one of the tours above the Grand Mosque and the routes leading to it.

The aircraft took off from the Security Aviation base in Jeddah an hour before sunset and headed toward Makkah, where the aircraft continuously scanned areas of the Grand Mosque, the areas around it and the routes leading to it using latest monitoring gadgets.

Recorded data is transferred directly to the necessary authorities, where procedures are put in place to enhance security and ease traffic. The planes also execute medical evacuation, take part in mock drills and perform security and humanitarian tasks (search, rescue and evacuation).

Security Aviation Commander Brig. Gen. Hassan Al-Bassam said the General Aviation Security Command is working in the Ramadan season according to plan. He said that all services are focused on visitors to the Grand Mosque.

Al-Bassam said they are preparing themselves with each passing day of Ramadan and the increasing number of pilgrims, along with getting ready for the last 10 days of the holy month. Air presence has been intensified, with continuous surveillance and monitoring of the central district and the roads leading to it.


First group of Sri Lankan Muslims begin Hajj journey

Updated 17 July 2019
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First group of Sri Lankan Muslims begin Hajj journey

  • 4,000 to partake in this year’s pilgrimage after Saudi Arabia increased quota

COLOMBO: Nearly 180 Sri Lankan Hajj pilgrims left for Saudi Arabia on Monday night, but not before thanking the Kingdom for the comprehensive facilities offered to them.

Mohamed Hashim Mohamed Haleem, Sri Lanka’s minister of postal services and Muslim religious affairs, said that this year’s issuing of Hajj visas was smooth due to the new e-Hajj services introduced by the Saudi government. 

“We were able to process all 4,000 Hajj visas efficiently. All of them were issued well in time,” Haleem said.

He added that officials from his ministry will be available at the airport to assist the pilgrims with their departures.

The minister said the flights of pilgrims this year will be ferried by both Saudi Arabian Airlines and Sri Lankan Airlines. Haleem, who intends to participate in this year’s Hajj, said that the last flight of Sri Lankan pilgrims will leave Colombo on Aug. 7.

Sajjath Mohammed, a journalist from Madawala News, praised the e-Hajj service, saying: “The biometric services for the visas were available to pilgrims in Kandy and Batticaloa in addition to Colombo, the capital of the island.”

Rizmi Reyal, president of the International Airline Ticketing Academy in Sri Lanka, said that this year the Hajj services from Colombo have been enhanced to give a better experience to the pilgrims. He thanked the Saudi government, the Muslim Religious Affairs Ministry in Colombo, the Saudi Embassy in Colombo and the Sri Lankan Embassy in Riyadh for playing their part in these improvements.

The Sri Lankan government will also send a medical team to attend to any urgent needs of the pilgrims before they are taken to the nearest medical facilities in the two holy cities.