Saudi Civil Defense announces Ramadan security measures

Rapid intervention teams had been positioned to cover important sites, the central area and densely populated buildings. (SPA)
Updated 08 May 2019
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Saudi Civil Defense announces Ramadan security measures

  • An emergency plan has been rolled out

RIYADH: Civil Defense chiefs in Makkah have put in place strict security measures to ensure the safety of pilgrims and Saudi citizens during the month of Ramadan.

An emergency plan, approved by Interior Minister Prince Abdul Aziz bin Saud bin Naif, has been rolled out, with specially trained personnel deployed to deal with any potential threats to safety over the fasting period.

Brig. Abdullah Al-Qurashi, director of Civil Defense in Makkah, said there were 38 fixed civil defense centers, supported by 24 seasonal centers, in addition to 27 intervention points and 30 civil defense posts stationed in The Grand Mosque in Makkah to provide aid and assistance to pilgrims.

He added that rapid intervention teams had been positioned to cover important sites, the central area and densely populated buildings.

“Preventive supervision teams were deployed in markets, malls and holy sites supported by vehicles and technical equipment,” the brigadier said. 

Scout volunteers

Meanwhile, Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, president of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, met Abdulrahman bin Abdullah Abu Dujain, head of the scout camp being used to serve pilgrims in Makkah, and a number of scout volunteers who will be working in The Grand Mosque.

Al-Sudais hailed the efforts of the scouting organization during Ramadan. “The volunteering services offered by the scout members in the Two Holy Mosques have contributed, along with the other efforts exerted by the competent government sectors and entities, to enable visitors to perform their rituals with ease, tranquility and spirituality,” he said. 

Abu Dujain thanked Al-Sudais for his encouraging words and highlighted the excellent cooperation between the Saudi scouting association and a number of sectors that has helped to ensure the comfort of pilgrims, visitors and worshippers.

Quality services

Pilgrims at the Prophet’s Mosque have thanked King Salman for the services provided for them by government agencies in Madinah.

Visitors praised security measures, comfort facilities and the guidance they received during their journeys.

Al-Ibrahimi Yaalu, from Algeria, expressed his joy at visiting the mosque during the holy month of Ramadan, and praised the Saudi government for the services he had encountered since his arrival in the Kingdom.

Yazid Rashid, from Iraq, praised the services in the health centers set up to take care of visitors from around the globe. In addition, he highlighted the organization of the country’s transport and communications links, especially those connecting the nation’s airports to the center of Madinah.

Dr. Fahim Babu, who had traveled from India, stressed that the  good services were the outcome of years of consistent efforts and good planning. Magdy Dabbas, another pilgrim from Jordan, who resides in Jeddah, said that he visited the mosque annually, and that the transport links and assistance on offer improved every year.

There was also high praise for the king, government and local authorities from pilgrims from as far away as Indonesia, Pakistan and Sudan, with many thousands of Muslims traveling from across the world to Saudi Arabia to attend prayers at the mosque during Ramadan.


Saudis recall history’s greatest TV event: Apollo moon landing

Updated 20 July 2019
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Saudis recall history’s greatest TV event: Apollo moon landing

  • The TV images beamed from 320,000km away in space left viewers astounded but happy
  • The TV coverage influenced thinking and attitudes in the Kingdom just like everywhere else

DUBAI: It was a sleepy afternoon in Saudi Arabia, just days before the end of the school vacation, and Saudis had their eyes glued to their TV sets as they waited for live coverage of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Before July 20, 1969, the idea of a human walking on the moon was the stuff of science fiction. However, almost overnight, sci-fi had turned into reality with a live broadcast showing American astronaut Neil Armstrong’s dramatic descent onto the empty lunar landscape.

Between science fiction and science fact, the live coverage of the lunar landing amounted to an unusual fusion of news and entertainment.

Saudi TV technicians bring the first live images of Neil Armstrong’s 1969 moon landing to
viewers around the Kingdom. (Supplied photo)

The historic images — beamed back to Earth more than 320,000 km away — left Saudi viewers astounded and confused, but mostly elated to be witnessing such an epoch-making event.

The event was covered live on television and radio stations in Saudi Arabia. Most Saudis and residents living in the Kingdom watched it on Saudi channels 1 and 3, owned by Saudi Aramco.

Hessah Al-Sobaie, a housewife from Al-Dawadmi, recalled watching the moon landing from her grandparents’ backyard as an 11-year-old.

“It felt weird watching a human walk on the moon,” she told Arab News. “I remember the endless questions I asked as a child.”

While most people were aware that going to the moon was risky, many Saudis believed that such a journey was impossible and all but unthinkable.


EVENTS WATCH

1. NASA’s Apollo 11 mission control room in Houston has been restored to its 1969 condition and regular tours
will be conducted by the Johnson Space Center.

2. NASA ‘Science Live’ will have a special edition on July 23 on board the aircraft carrier that recovered the Apollo 11 capsule.

3. A summer moon festival and family street fair will be held in Wapakoneta, Ohio, from July 17-20.

4. Downtown Houston’s Discovery green will host a free public screening of the ‘Apollo 11’ documentary, with an appearance by NASA astronaut Steve Bowen.

5. Amateur radio operators will host a series of events on July 20-21.

6. The US Space and Rocket Center is staging a special ‘Rockets on Parade’ exhibition.


The Apollo 11 mission prompted discussions across the Middle East over the reality of what people saw on their TV screens. Some Saudi scholars found it hard to believe their eyes.

“I watched it, and I clearly remember each and every detail of the coverage,” Hayat Al-Bokhari, 68, a retired school principal in Jeddah, said.

“My father, Abdul, was 56 at the time. He said the landing was faked. He couldn’t believe or accept that a human could go to the moon.”

Khaled Almasud, 70, a retired university lecturer, was a student in the US state of Oregon at the time of the mission. “Americans were stunned and over the moon, happy with their national achievement. But many Saudis like me were either in denial or insisting on more proof.”

Since the beginning of the 1960s, King Faisal had been rapidly transforming Saudi Arabia, inviting foreign-trained experts to help build a modern country with world-class infrastructure.

Billie Tanner, now 90, lived in the Kingdom for many years with her husband, Larry, and their two children, Laurie and Scott, aged six and four. The family had just arrived in Saudi Arabia and headed to the Aramco compound in Ras Tanura in the Eastern Province.

A screengrab of video of the first lunar landing beamed toward Earth and shown on television worldwide. 

“We were going through a culture shock,” she told Arab News. “I wasn’t thinking of the moon landing, but we heard about it on the news from Dhahran.

“My kids tried to see the astronauts on the moon with their binoculars and said they could see them walking around.”

The Apollo 11 spaceflight has become a milestone in the annals of human history and science. Since 1969 space exploration has greatly expanded man’s knowledge of the universe, far beyond Earth’s limits.

The captivating live coverage of the moon landing inspired millions of people around the world, profoundly influencing their thinking and attitudes.

The people of Saudi Arabia were no exception.