Kingdom’s expansion projects, development of holy sites raise Hajj pilgrim numbers

Hundreds of thousands of Hajj pilgrims listen to a first Friday sermon of Dul Hajjah at the Grand Mosque in Makkah. (SPA)
Updated 26 August 2017
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Kingdom’s expansion projects, development of holy sites raise Hajj pilgrim numbers

MAKKAH: Continuous expansion of the Two Holy Mosques and the holy sites, as well as the upgrading of services and infrastructure there, have played a significant role in increasing the number of pilgrims coming to perform Hajj in recent years.
“The Ministry of Culture and Information monitors quantitative and qualitative development to highlight the tremendous efforts made to serve pilgrims,” said the director of the operations room at the ministry, Abdulkhaliq Al-Zahrani.
The Kingdom is implementing huge projects aimed at raising the capacity of the mosques and developing Makkah, Madinah and all holy sites.
“The best witness to the efforts of the Kingdom is the tremendous development in the Jamarat bridge project and the surrounding area, and in Mina and Muzdalifah, and the expansion of the Jamarat complex, which consists of four floors in addition to the ground floor to accommodate nearly 4 million pilgrims,” Al-Zahrani said.
There is also rail transport for pilgrims from Muzdalifah and their tents in Mina to Jamarat bridge, as well as the creation of shaded bridges and well-ventilated tunnels.
Meanwhile, the General Command of Air Security has intensified air patrols in the skies over Makkah and Madinah, local media reported.
This implementation is part of the Hajj plan’s second phase, said Maj. Gen. Mohammed bin Eid Al-Harbi, the aviation security commander.
Al-Harbi said that the plan consists of several stages and the second phase will monitor the security situation and traffic, influx of pilgrims, and detect infiltration routes of pilgrims without permits.
He added that the second phase will also monitor human traffic in the central area of the Two Holy Mosques and the roads leading to them.
He added that “the flights are being increased to follow the security situation and to keep a close eye on the pilgrims’ movement during their overnight travel to Makkah.”


Clean sweep: Marine waste targeted in Red Sea tourism program

The program for eliminating marine debris will play an important material and moral role with the support of the residents of areas surrounding the seafront. (SPA)
Updated 22 September 2019

Clean sweep: Marine waste targeted in Red Sea tourism program

  • Debris major cause of death for marine life
  • Disintegration of plastic waste threaten human food resources

JEDDAH: A beach cleanup program targeting marine waste has been launched by the Red Sea Development Co. (TRSDC), the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The firm, which is behind the development of a luxury seafront tourism destination in Saudi Arabia, is already developing a range of environment-friendly policies such as zero-waste-to-landfill, zero-discharge-to-the-sea, zero-single-use plastics, and achieving 100 percent carbon neutrality. On Saturday it launched the Marine Debris Beach Clean Up Program as part of the Red Sea Project. “Eliminating marine debris is receiving increasing attention from the media that it has become a global cause, urging us to participate in protecting our virgin environment for which our seafront is known,” said TRSDC CEO John Pagano.
“The program for eliminating marine debris will play an important material and moral role with the support of the residents of areas surrounding the seafront. It will also shed light on the importance of reducing the use of nonrecyclable plastics, in addition to encouraging the disposing of these substances in a safe and sustainable manner.”
The TRSDC will continue to explore ways for recycled materials to be a source of employment opportunities for the area’s residents, he added. 
TRSDC is an official partner of the United Nations’ initiative to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the cleanup program will initially support two SDGs: Life Below Water and Life on Land. It will expand to support other SDGs, including Responsible Consumption and Production, Sustainable Cities and Communities, Decent Work and the Growth of the Economy, Ending Poverty, and Quality Education.

HIGHLIGHTS

• TRSDC is an official partner of the United Nations’ initiative to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the cleanup program will initially support two SDGs: Life Below Water and Life on Land.

• It will expand to support other SDGs, including Responsible Consumption and Production, Sustainable Cities and Communities, Decent Work and the Growth of the Economy, Ending Poverty, and Quality Education.

• Institutions or individuals wishing to take part in the beach cleanup program can find more details here: www.act4sdgs.org/partner/TheRedSeaProject

Dr. Rusty Brainard, chief environment officer at TRSDC, said: “Marine debris causes significant damage to the environment and is a major cause of death for many marine organism species, which may ingest these substances. Moreover, the disintegration of plastic waste into small pieces that penetrate into the food web base may also threaten human food resources. Our program for eliminating marine litter is a long-term project that includes ongoing monitoring of environmental health, as well as periodic intervention to clean up any waste in the Red Sea Project.”
TRSDC has teamed up with leading academic institutions in the Kingdom, such as King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and the University of Tabuk, on a number of educational initiatives, added Brainard.
The partnership between TRSDC and KAUST has led to an international competition — “Brains for Brine” — that encourages academics, scientists, engineers and the water industry to find solutions for managing the disposal of brine, which is a waste product of water desalination, in a sustainable and commercially viable way.
KAUST has also helped TRSDC with marine spatial planning for the Red Sea Project.
As part of the planning process, major environmental studies were carried out to ensure that the area’s sensitive ecology was protected both during and after completion of the development.
The final master plan, which preserves around 75 percent of the destination’s islands for conservation and designates nine islands as sites of significant ecological value, required several redesigns to avoid potential disruption to endangered species native to the area.
Institutions or individuals wishing to take part in the beach clean-up program can find more details here: www.act4sdgs.org/partner/TheRedSeaProject