Hajis begin streaming into Mina

Updated 08 November 2013

Hajis begin streaming into Mina

Hundreds of thousands of Haj pilgrims began streaming into tent city at Mina by foot, on buses and in four-wheel drives late Saturday amid extreme heat and humidity.
On their way, pilgrims were met by many checkpoints manned by security men, health officials and traffic police, who asked pilgrims to display their Haj permits.
The much feared mobile fingerprint machines were nowhere to be seen.
Although skies were overcast, high temperatures ensued while pilgrims flooding into Makkah suffered traffic jams that turned a regular 40-minute drive from Jeddah into a grueling 3-and-a-half-hour marathon.
Helicopters hovered overhead, directing security officials on the ground.
Despite strict measures taken by security officials, an Arab News reporter witnessed numerous illegal pilgrims dodging checkpoints and taking detours through mountainous routes.
Indonesian pilgrims were the first to arrive inside Mina. Pilgrims were awestruck by the white landscape inside tent city.
Among the first Saudi officials to arrive in Mina was Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, minister of health. He visited the Emergency Center Health Complex in Mina and spoke to journalists.
He told Arab News: “There is no reason to panic because we have not detected a single case of MERS among pilgrims thus far. There is no epidemic whatsoever.” He said health care precautions have been taken in line with international regulations to screen pilgrims coming into the holy sites from 16 entry points.
“Every single pilgrim has been vaccinated and full care has been taken in Mina to quell health threats,” the minister said.
Al-Rabeeah said that pilgrims should wear masks as a precaution.
“We are not aware of how this virus is transmitted, so we have advised pilgrims to wear masks in crowded areas as a precautionary measure.”
There are hundreds of health care workers manning dozens of hospitals and dispensaries.
Traffic flowed smoothly into Mina. However, inside Makkah, the situation was different. The Grand Mosque was packed with pilgrims as they embarked on their journey to the holy sites.
The first phase will see pilgrims move to Mina by Sunday afternoon, where they will spend the night reciting the Holy Qur’an or catching up on sleep.
Pakistani Ambassador Muhammad Naim Khan said everything is going smoothly.
Indian Consul General Faiz Ahmad Kidwai told Arab News that Indian pilgrims were moving into the tent city in groups. “Everything is going according to the plans charted by our mission in close coordination with the Saudi Haj authorities,” he said.
An Indian pilgrim, Ibrahim Mohammad Noor, said: “I am so happy to be here.” His wife, Romana Talib, said: “We have been waiting for this moment all my life. I am so happy I can't tell you. Thank you, Allah, for helping me come here.”
Laiquddin Munaf, a British pilgrim, described his journey as a dream. “I have to pinch myself again and again to reassure myself that I am in Makkah and Mina and that I am about to perform Haj,” he said.
Seventy-year-old Fatima Bibi from Dera Ghazi Khan, Pakistan, was brought into the tent city by her son. “This is my son Arif. He promised me that he would bring me here and he kept his promise,” she said.


Riyadh roads turn green as world’s largest urban greening project branches out

Based on experience, roads and streets without trees contain eight to 10 times the amount of dust compared with streets lined with trees on both sides. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 03 August 2020

Riyadh roads turn green as world’s largest urban greening project branches out

  • Capital gets a facelift as Vision 2030 program works to plant 7.5 million trees
  • Most of the tree species used in the project are from a well-developed local environment with low agricultural service and care

RIYADH: The Green Riyadh project, one of the world’s largest urban greening initiatives, is rapidly bearing fruit as it transforms main roads in the capital.

Major thoroughfares, including King Khalid, Makkah and King Salman roads, are getting a facelift as part of the Vision 2030 goal of improving quality of life in the city.
Dr. Fahad Al-Mana, a professor of Ornamental Plants, Gardens and Green Areas at King Saud University, told Arab News that native tree species being used for the project include Ziziphus spina-christi, Acacia gerrardii and Prosopis cineraria, commonly known as the ghaf tree.
According to Al-Mana, the trees can survive in harsh desert conditions and will grow without intensive agricultural care.
“Most of the tree species used in the planting of the Green Riyadh project are from a well-developed local environment with low agricultural service and care,” he said.
Environmental conditions in Riyadh were taken into account during the tree selection process. The species can grow to a large size in only three years.
“In some locations, they have moved large 3-year-old local trees that were taken care of in plant nurseries to new locations where they are growing successfully,” Al-Mana said.
Green Riyadh will increase the amount of greenery in the city and augment the green cover in the Saudi capital with the planting of 7.5 million trees around the city’s main features and facilities.
The project will reduce the average ambient temperature by 2 degrees Celsius and improve air quality, encouraging people to follow a healthier lifestyle by walking or cycling.

FASTFACTS

• The project will reduce the average ambient temperature by 2 degrees Celsius and improve air quality, encouraging people to follow a healthier lifestyle by walking or cycling.

• The project will maximize the use of recycled water in irrigation works by increasing usage from 90,000 cubic meters per day to more than 1 million cubic meters per day through the construction of a new recycled water network.

• Green space in the city will increase from 5 percent to 9 percent by 2030

“The aim of planting trees in the streets is to provide shade and moderate the temperature, especially in summer, which contributes to the purification of air and reduces environmental pollution by protecting the city from sand storms, winds and dust. In addition, it gives an aesthetic view and the element of nature enters the city and nearby structures,” said Al-Mana.
He added that trees, especially those planted in central street islands, must have long trunks and high branches to avoid hindering the movement of pedestrians and cars. The trunk must measure at least 3 to 4 meters and the size of the trees planted must be proportional to the width of the island.
Al-Mana said green space in the city will increase from 5 percent to 9 percent by 2030.
According to the Green Riyadh website, the project will maximize the use of recycled water in irrigation works by increasing usage from 90,000 cubic meters per
day to more than 1 million cubic meters per day through the construction of a new recycled water network.
Al-Mana said the Green Riyadh project will also reduce carbon dioxide and impurity levels in the city.
“Based on experience, roads and streets without trees contain eight to 10 times the amount of dust compared with streets lined with trees on both sides,” he said.