JEDDAH: Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, adviser to King Salman, governor of Makkah and chairman of the Central Hajj Committee, has ordered the formation of a committee headed by Deputy Makkah Gov. Prince Abdullah bin Bandar, with the Makkah Region Development Authority and other relevant bodies as members, to address and solve issues witnessed during the Umrah season in Ramadan.
According to the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, between the beginning of Muharram and mid-Shawwal this year, more than 6.7 million people from around the world visited Makkah for Umrah — an increase of 230,000 visitors compared with the same period last year.
Moreover, 295 companies have provided services to Makkah’s visitors during the same period and around 10,000 Saudi citizens contributed to serving worshippers.
The committee said 40 million people were transported to and from the Grand Mosque in Makkah by Public Transportation Program buses during Ramadan 2018 — up 10 percent from last year.
In addition, parking lots at Makkah’s entrances accommodated more than 2.5 million vehicles, and 2,000 buses were provided to transport worshippers.
The Central Hajj Committee reviewed the efforts of its member bodies during Ramadan. The Makkah Health Affairs Directorate ran Al-Haram Hospital, Al-Hijrah Medical Center, and Al-Sulaimaniya Medical Center to receive emergencies around the clock, in addition to supporting hospitals and medical centers in Makkah with seasonal contracts.
The Saudi Red Crescent has contributed to the plan by running a number of medical units on the roads leading to the Grand Mosque of Makkah, set up fixed air-conditioned medical tents, and coordinated with Makkah’s Civil Defense to decide on locations for medical evacuations during the last nights of Ramadan, and implemented a detailed emergency plan.
The Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques set up electronic surveying machines to collect feedback on the services provided to worshippers and launched the Haramain smartphone application and the visa services platform “Enjaz.”
King Fahd’s expansion has provided people retreating in the mosque (performing Eitikaf) with a dedicated area and screens that provided instructions.
The National Water Company has improved pumping schedules compared to last year, installed pressure monitoring systems, and started operating the Operations Control Center at the Makkah Business Unit.
The Saudi Electricity Company provided fast response teams with motorbikes as well as power supplies.
The Secretariat of the Holy Capital categorized and prepared public kitchens to provide food to worshippers, implemented the electronic linkage program with the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah to determine the kitchens’ capacity for providing services to worshippers, and carried out intensive food sampling campaigns across Makkah before the season started, in addition to other cleaning and monitoring campaigns after iftar and sahoor.
The Public Security reported on the efforts made during Ramadan, including the rapid response of the TV control room and the command and control center, taking full advantage of the northern expansion to reduce the crowd in the Grand Mosque’s corridors, ensure worshippers’ smooth movement during tawaf, and allocating the first floor for wheelchairs used by the elderly and people with special needs.