Hajj Ministry forks out on ‘happy meals’ for pilgrims

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The Kingdom aims to ensure that pilgrims enjoy a high-quality food during the Hajj. (Supplied)
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The Kingdom aims to ensure that pilgrims enjoy a high-quality food during the Hajj. (Supplied)
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The Kingdom aims to ensure that pilgrims enjoy a high-quality food during the Hajj. (Supplied)
Updated 20 August 2018

Hajj Ministry forks out on ‘happy meals’ for pilgrims

  • Prepackaged meals are ideal for pilgrims in regard to cooking quality, storage and even transporting from one place to another
  • A variety of meals is produced, each served in heavy-duty sealed pouches or trays

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Hajj Ministry has put health at the top of its menu with plans to supply more than 2.3 million hygienic meals to pilgrims.
The ready-made, sterilized meals come in a range of flavors and will be provided to 15 percent of the pilgrims as part of the ministry’s health and safety program for pilgrims.
Hajj Minister Mohammed Salih Bentin told Arab News that the ministry has signed contracts with several suppliers to produce safe and clean prepared meals for pilgrims.
“The door is open for all competent companies to invest in this big project. It is no secret that we are in talks with Saudi Airlines Catering to take part in this service. We want the pilgrims to enjoy as high-quality food as that offered to passengers on our national carrier,” he said.
“From this year South Asian Hajj offices will start to distribute sterilized meals to 15 percent of the pilgrims. In almost two years’ time, all pilgrims will enjoy similar meals during their Hajj days.”
Bentin said the move is in line with the Saudi government’s wish to ensure safe food sources for pilgrims.
The minister said that the Kingdom’s leadership told all ministries to work toward making the pilgrims feel not only satisfied but also happy.
Project Supervisor Dr. Bassam H. Mashat said the Kingdom will supply pilgrims with the safest possible food during their pilgrimage.
Mashat, an associate professor at the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Institute for Hajj and Umrah Research, said that they want the pilgrims to enjoy as high-quality food as that offered to passengers on our national carrier.
“Taj Food factory is the first ready-to-eat food factory of its kind in the Kingdom. The plant, located in Jeddah, is designed to meet the requirements of Food Safety Management System, a risk management system that identifies, evaluates and controls hazards related to food safety,” he said.
A prototype plant had been installed in Makkah, the company’s headquarters, where quality tests were conducted to ensure the highest level of production.
The factory is over 9,000 square meters in size and can house up to nine production lines.
“These production lines can produce more than 12 million meals per year. The pool of talents comprises Saudi-trained teams and experts from Malaysia, who have been cooperating to establish this factory, which meets global standards for food safety in both the Good Manufacturing Practice and the International Organization for Standardization,” Mashat said.
Prepackaged meals are ideal for pilgrims in regard to cooking quality, storage and even transporting from one place to another.
“They can also be a good food solution for factories, schools and universities,” he said.
A variety of meals is produced, each served in heavy-duty sealed pouches or trays. “The production process ensures a clean and easy-to-prepare range of tastes that suit all cultures,” he said. Saudi team members worked with international manufacturers to set up the food production operation.
“In 2015, machines were selected and ordered for the first production line from specialized factories in South Korea, Japan and China. In 2017, testing and commissioning for the first production line was conducted successfully. Production started at the beginning of 2018,” Mashat said.
The ministry’s initiative has a number of benefits, including reducing fires in the holy places caused by pilgrims’ camp kitchens, cutting the risk of food poisoning and greatly lowering water use in camp kitchens.
Prepackaged meals also reduce waste generated by camp kitchens by up to 20 percent, with 765 tons of waste generated.


Saudi Cabinet congratulates security forces for thwarting terror cell

King Salman chairs the virtual meeting. (SPA)
Updated 30 September 2020

Saudi Cabinet congratulates security forces for thwarting terror cell

  • King Salman thanked international leaders and officials for their messages of congratulations to the Kingdom and its people on the occasion of its 90th National Day

RIYADH: The Saudi Cabinet on Tuesday congratulated the Presidency of State Security for its work in identifying and apprehending the suspected members of a terror cell in the Kingdom.

Some of those who were arrested allegedly trained at sites in Iran run by the country’s Revolutionary Guards. A cache of weapons and explosives was also seized.

Ministers expressed their appreciation for the efforts of the presidency’s employees in tracking down those who threaten the security and stability of the Kingdom and the safety of those who live there.

Majid Al-Qasabi, the acting minister of media, said that while reviewing the latest regional and international developments, cabinet members reiterated the Kingdom’s call during the recent International Atomic Energy Agency General Conference for the international community to adopt a firm stance on Iran, and take steps to address its violations of international agreements relating to its nuclear-research program. They also reaffirmed Saudi support for efforts, in partnership with the international community, to make the Middle East a nuclear weapon-free zone.

The virtual meeting was chaired by King Salman, who began by passing on his condolences and sympathy to the people of Kuwait and the family of its Emir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, who died on Tuesday. He also congratulated the emir’s successor, Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah.

King Salman thanked international leaders and officials for their messages of congratulations to the Kingdom and its people on the occasion of its 90th National Day. He also briefed ministers on his recent telephone conversation with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during which the two leaders reviewed bilateral relations and discussed opportunities to further develop them.

The cabinet commended the king for his speech during the UN’s 75th General Assembly in New York, during which he emphasized the his country’s continued commitment to assisting the international community in efforts to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and address its humanitarian and economic implications.

Ministers also noted that his speech reflected the Kingdom’s dedication to security, stability and prosperity as a strategic choice, its call for peaceful coexistence, moderation and solidarity among all countries and peoples to address humanitarian challenges, its support for political solutions to conflicts, and its efforts to combat extremism in all its forms.

Al-Qasabi said that the Cabinet welcomed the announcement by the Kingdom that the G20 Leaders’ Summit will take place as planned as scheduled on Nov. 21 and 22, albeit virtually as a result of the pandemic. Saudi Arabia hold the presidency of the G20 this year.

Ministers also expressed their appreciation for international efforts, led by G20 countries, that have resulted in the provision of more than $21 billion to support the production of diagnostic and therapeutic tools during the pandemic, and the development and distribution of vaccines. In addition, more than $11 trillion has been allocated to protect the global economy, and more than $14 billion to mitigate the debt burdens of less-developed countries and help fund their health services and social programs. The Cabinet also reviewed the latest local and international developments in the pandemic, along with preparations for the safe resumption of Umrah.

Ministers reiterated the Saudi call, during an emergency meeting of the Council of Arab Ministers Responsible for Environmental Affairs, for urgent action to avoid an environmental catastrophe in the Red Sea as a result of the deteriorating condition of the oil tanker Safer, which has been anchored off the coast of Yemen, near Ras Issa port, since 2015.

The Cabinet also expressed its concern over developments in the dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and urged both sides to agree a ceasefire and resolve the conflict peacefully in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions.