Saudi Arabia’s Haramain High-Speed Railway opens to public

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Saudi Arabia’s new Haramain High-Speed Railway opened to the public on Thursday, whisking Muslim pilgrims and other travelers between Makkah and Madinah. (Al-Ekhbariya)
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Saudi Arabia’s new Haramain High-Speed Railway opened to the public on Thursday, whisking Muslim pilgrims and other travelers between Makkah and Madinah. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia’s new Haramain High-Speed Railway opened to the public on Thursday, whisking Muslim pilgrims and other travelers between Makkah and Madinah. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia’s new Haramain High-Speed Railway opened to the public on Thursday, whisking Muslim pilgrims and other travelers between Makkah and Madinah. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia’s new Haramain High-Speed Railway opened to the public on Thursday, whisking Muslim pilgrims and other travelers between Makkah and Madinah. (SPA)
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Saudi passengers are seen at Makkah’s train station on October 11, 2018 as the new high-speed railway line linking Makkah and Medina opens. (AFP)
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Saudi passengers sit in the platform at Makkah’s train station on October 11, 2018 as the new high-speed railway line linking Makkah and Medina opens. (AFP)
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Saudi Arabia’s new Haramain High-Speed Railway opened to the public on Thursday, whisking Muslim pilgrims and other travelers between Makkah and Madinah. (Al-Ekhbariya)
Updated 12 October 2018
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Saudi Arabia’s Haramain High-Speed Railway opens to public

  • During Hajj, the road journey between the two holy cities can take as long as 10 hours.
  • The SR60 billion ($16 billion) mega project is the biggest railway in the Middle East and will transport 60 million passengers a year.

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s new Haramain High-Speed Railway opened to the public on Thursday, whisking travelers between Makkah and Madinah through King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) in Rabigh and Jeddah.

Rumaih Al-Rumaih, chairman of the Public Transport Authority (PTA), said: “It is a moment that marks a historical national turning point in the Kingdom’s modern transportation.”

The train will operate four days a week, from Thursday to Sunday. It is eventually expected to operate daily, by which time direct trips between Makkah and Madinah will take two hours, and trips between Makkah and Madinah stopping at Jeddah and KAEC will take an additional 20 minutes.

Al-Rumaih extended his thanks to King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for their unlimited support.

He also thanked Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal for playing “a major role in supporting the project and in overcoming obstacles during the implementation phase.”

Al-Rumaih went on to thank Transport Minister Nabeel Al-Amoudi and all other partners for contributing to the successful opening of the largest railway project in the Middle East.

Saad Al-Shehri, director-general of the Haramain High-Speed Railway in Madinah, said the train’s first public trip started by carrying 417 passengers from Madinah to Makkah.

A train traveling in the opposite direction from Makkah to Madinah with stops in Jeddah and KAEC, carrying the same number of passengers, departed at the same time.

Tickets for the Haramain High-Speed Railway can be purchased online (www.hhr.sa), as well as over the phone (920004433) or direct from ticket offices between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. A discount of 50 percent is currently available.

The Haramain High-Speed Railway project is in line with the objectives of Vision 2030, as it should help increase the number of visitors to the Kingdom’s holy places. 

The railway is capable of transporting 60 million passengers onboard a fleet of 35 trains, each one consisting of 417 seats, annually. The trains, which can travel up to 300km per hour, are equipped with the latest technology to ensure comfort and safety.

The railway covers a distance of 450km, linking stations in Makkah, Jeddah, King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah (KAIA), King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) in Rabigh, and Madinah.

The Kingdom is boosting its infrastructure spending and expanding its railways — a $22.5 billion metro system is currently under construction in Riyadh — as it seeks to diversify its oil-dependent economy.

The annual Hajj pilgrimage, which will take place in September next year, attracts more than 2 million Muslims to the Makkah region.


Saudi Arabia says missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi is dead

Updated 20 October 2018
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Saudi Arabia says missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi is dead

  • The journalist died after a fistfight at the consulate in Istanbul
  • Deputy intelligence chief, royal court adviser removed from positions, 18 Saudis arrested

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia announced on Saturday the death of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi, saying a preliminary investigation indicated he lost his life after a fight at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
“The discussions between Jamal Khashoggi and those he met at the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul... devolved into a fistfight, leading to his death,” the Saudi Press Agency said, citing the public prosecutor.
Eighteen Saudis have been arrested in connection with the incident and the investigation is ongoing, the public prosecutor said.
“The Kingdom expresses its deep regret at the painful developments that have taken place and stresses the commitment of the authorities in the Kingdom to bring the facts to the public opinion, to hold all those involved accountable and bring them to justice,” a statement on the SPA said.
Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who lived in the US, disappeared on Oct. 2 after visiting the consulate to complete paperwork related to his divorce.
Deputy intelligence chief Ahmed Al-Asiri was removed from his position and Saud Al-Qahtani from his advisory role at the Royal Court, through royal decrees.
Three other intelligence officials who were also sacked have been named as Mohammad bin Saleh Al-Rumaih, Abdullah bin Khalifa Al-Shaya and Rashad bin Hamed Al-Muhamadi.
King Salman also ordered the creation of a ministerial committee, headed by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to restructure the country’s General Intelligence agency and issue the results of its work within a month.
Members of the committee include the interior and foreign ministers as well as the heads of the General Intelligence and State Security.
A team of Saudi investigators were sent to Istanbul and have been working on the case with Turkish detectives, who entered the consulate on Thursday.
Earlier in the week, Saudi Arabia promised a thorough and transparent investigation into what happened to the journalist in Turkey.