Hajj 2018: More than 2 million pilgrims begin journey of a lifetime

1 / 4
Muslim pilgrims walk on a street in the holy city of Makkah on August 18, 2018, ahead of the start of the annual Hajj pilgrimage. (AFP / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE)
2 / 4
A man pushes the wheelchair of a fellow pilgrim in a street in Makkah on August 18, 2018, ahead of the start of the annual Hajj pilgrimage. (AFP / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE)
3 / 4
A pilgrim is pushed in a wheelchair on their way to offer prayers in the Grand Mosque in Makkah Aug. 18, 2018, ahead of the annual Hajj pilgrimage. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin)
4 / 4
Muslim pilgrims on their way to offer prayers in the Grand Mosque in Makkah Aug. 18, 2018, ahead of the annual Hajj pilgrimage. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin)
Updated 19 August 2018
0

Hajj 2018: More than 2 million pilgrims begin journey of a lifetime

  • Massive safety and security operation swings into action as annual Hajj begins
  • The Hajj is an unparalleled logistical operation, with statistics to match. The Saudi Ministry of Health alone has employed nearly 30,000 physicians, pharmacists, nurses and technicians to provide health care to the pilgrims

MAKKAH: The number of pilgrims in Saudi Arabia passed two million on Saturday, Saudi security chiefs said, as the country finished preparations for the annual Hajj pilgrimage to begin on Sunday.

A final tally will be announced at the beginning of Eid Al-Adha on Tuesday, said Interior Ministry security spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki.

The pilgrims have flown in from almost every country in the world, but all had a similar story to tell — this is the experience of a lifetime.

“This is the first time I have seen the Grand Mosque and the Kaaba. It is the best feeling of my life to be able to perform the Hajj,” said Hisham Mostafa, 50, an accountant from Aleppo who fled the war in Syria five years ago and now lives in Turkey.

Nayef Ahmed, 37, from Yemen, sold a plot of land to be able to afford to travel to Saudi Arabia for Hajj. “Because of the war the cost was very high. But being here I feel comfort and peace and I pray to God for the war to end,” he said.

Najwa, 59, from Tunisia, said: “I came for Umrah in 2007 and today after 10 years of registering and waiting, I am here. I cannot describe the feeling. I cry every day.”

Over the next few days the pilgrims will retrace the steps of the Prophet Muhammad 14 centuries ago — and their safety and security are a Saudi priority.

“We will prevent any actions that are not part of the Hajj ritual and any act that may impact the safety of pilgrims or their ability to perform the rite,” Al-Turki said.

To ensure their safety, pilgrims will wear electronic identification bracelets, connected to GPS. “There is a comprehensive electronic agenda for every pilgrim and we have provided many apps that offer guidance,” said the Minister of Haj and Umrah, Mohammed Salih Bentin.

“We have a fleet of more than 18,000 buses, all of them linked to a control system that tracks their path.”

The Hajj is an unparalleled logistical operation, with statistics to match. The Saudi Ministry of Health alone has employed nearly 30,000 physicians, pharmacists, nurses and technicians to provide health care to the pilgrims.

The Saudi Red Crescent is operating 127 emergency centers, 361 ambulance cars and 20 emergency motorcycles, with nearly 2,000 staff on duty in Makkah and Madinah.

There will be 22 operational hospitals in Madinah and the holy sites, and 15 temporary emergency centers, supported by a fleet of nearly 90 ambulances and more than 650 paramedics.


Mexican delegation visits Saudi Arabia to promote trade and discuss investment

The Mexican ambassador further declared that his country, like Saudi Arabia, is one of the top 20 economies in the world and is eager to strengthen mechanisms of collaboration in different areas. (SPA)
Updated 17 November 2018
0

Mexican delegation visits Saudi Arabia to promote trade and discuss investment

  • The visiting team expressed their desire to benefit from and contribute to the projects presented by the Kingdom’s Vision 2030

RIYADH: A trade delegation from Mexico called on the Saudi business community to strengthen trade partnerships with their counterparts in Mexico and participate in promising opportunities and investment projects in various areas, especially in the construction and infrastructure sectors.
“A delegation from the National Bank for Services and Public Works (BANOBRAS), the most important development bank in Mexico, visited Saudi Arabia to promote investment opportunities that will bring the countries closer together,” Mexican Ambassador Alfredo Miranda told Arab News on Friday.
Miranda accompanied Alejandro Blasco, head of investor relations at BANOBRAS, and Luis Ampudia, deputy head of investor relations, during the meeting at the Council of Saudi Chambers (CSC).
The Saudi delegation was made up of CSC Secretary-General Saud Al-Meshari; Vice Chairman and Managing Director of the Saudi Fund for Development Khalid S. Alkhudairy; and head of stakeholder management of the Public Investment Fund (PIF) Saad A. Alkroud.
During the meetings, the Mexican delegation shared the opportunities available in Mexico for identifying possible public-private partnerships and financing social infrastructure projects, and they discussed the potential of investment opportunities in Mexico as part of the PIF’s international diversified pool, said the envoy.
The visiting team expressed their desire to benefit from and contribute to the projects presented by the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.
The Mexican ambassador further declared that his country, like Saudi Arabia, is one of the top 20 economies in the world and is eager to strengthen mechanisms of collaboration in different areas, taking into account that Mexico’s GDP is $1.1 trillion, has a population of 129 million inhabitants, an inflation rate of 4 percent and very low unemployment of just 4 percent.
“I am sure both countries will continue to work together in order to have more Mexicans in Saudi Arabia and more Saudis in Mexico,” said Ambassador Miranda.