Transport sector is ‘backbone’ in improving pilgrims’ services

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Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr. Mohammed Salih Bentin and his deputy Dr. Abdul Fattah Mashat witness the signing of agreements. (SPA)
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The Umrah Forum and Exhibition aims to meet the objectives of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan by providing the best services to pilgrims. (SPA)
Updated 29 August 2019

Transport sector is ‘backbone’ in improving pilgrims’ services

  • The Al-Rajhi Umrah Service Group also signed two agreements at the forum with the Saudi Arabia Public Transport Co. and another with Flynas

JEDDAH: Attendees at the second day of the Umrah Forum and Exhibition, launched under the patronage of Makkah Gov. Prince Khalid Al-Faisal, discussed the Doyof Al-Rahman program (DARP) and its role in improving pilgrims’ services. Other sessions covered investing in transport, the role of the smart platform and improving the quality of services and their monitoring mechanisms.
The executive vice president of DARP, Musaab Hashem, stressed the importance of enriching the pilgrims’ experience through allowing them to learn about the Kingdom’s historical sites.
Hashem added that DARP is coordinating with government bodies to provide the appropriate environment for operating cultural sites.
DARP CEO Ahmed Al-Harbi said the program had taken into account all initiatives related to the pilgrims’ journey.
The second session, titled “Invest in Transport,” addressed the importance of developing the transport sector to cope with the pressures of Hajj.
Bassam Ghulman, deputy minister for transportation affairs at the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, said that the transport sector is the backbone supporting all other services provided to pilgrims.
Osama Samkari, general director assistant for transport at the General Syndicate of Cars, discussed the importance of transforming the sector into a high-quality industry.
Ahmed Khalil Qari, director of the field supervision department at the General Syndicate of Cars, said that good planning contributes to enriching pilgrims’ experience.
The third session, presided by Dr. Majed Abdullah, focused on DARP’s smart platform.
Dr. Amr Al-Maddah, the chief planning and strategy officer at the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, said that enabling more pilgrims to perform Hajj and Umrah is one of DARP’s priorities. He added that technology is the best means for enriching their experience and developing services.
Hisham Al-Hammami, chief information officer in the information technology department of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, said that the technology transformation at the ministry has contributed significantly to the provision of packages of outstanding services to companies operating in the Hajj and Umrah system.


30m - The Vision 2030 reform plan aims to attract more than 30 million Umrah pilgrims, and provide them with excellent services and an outstanding experience.

Basim Zafar, head of the Vision Consultant Office, said that the smart card has helped health care centers access pilgrims’ health information and provide the right medical services.
He added that the smart platform plays an important role in eliminating the infiltration of illegal pilgrims.
During the fourth session, the ministry’s undersecretary for Umrah affairs, Dr. Abdul Aziz Wazzan said: “We will not tolerate companies that provide unsatisfactory services to pilgrims.”
Mohammed Al-Akkad, assistant undersecretary for pilgrims’ affairs, said that the electronic path system shows pilgrims their route from the moment they arrive in the Kingdom until they depart.
On the second day of the forum, several workshops were held with specialized companies in the pilgrimage sector.
Meanwhile, the minister of Hajj and Umrah, Dr. Mohammed Salih Bentin, attended the signing of strategic agreements and partnerships.
Dr. Abdul Fattah Mashat, deputy minister of Hajj and Umrah, and Dr. Adnan Al-Humaidan, director of the University of Jeddah, signed a partnership agreement for volunteer training.
The university also signed agreements with the Sejel Technology, the Saudi Arabia Public Transport Co. and Unified Elzimazemh.
Bentin also sponsored an agreement between the faculty of tourism at King Abdul Aziz University and Jabal Omar Development Co. and another between the university and Flynas, Saudi Arabia’s first budget airline.
The Al-Rajhi Umrah Service Group also signed two agreements at the forum with the Saudi Arabia Public Transport Co. and another with Flynas.

Saudi Arabia’s AlUla provides a perfect ‘Corner of the Earth’ for Jamiroquai to shine

Updated 25 January 2020

Saudi Arabia’s AlUla provides a perfect ‘Corner of the Earth’ for Jamiroquai to shine

  • “I was transported into a completely different world”: Jay Kay

ALULA: British band Jamiroquai thrilled a delighted audience at Maraya Concert Hall in Saudi Arabia on Friday night during a show packed with hits.

In a first for a venue more used to hosting opera and classical concerts, the British funk/acid jazz outfit had fans dancing along to the music.

The show, at the distinctive, mirror-covered concert hall in historic AlUla, was part of the second Winter at Tantora festival. It opened with “Shake It On,” followed by the hit singles “Little L,” “Alright,” and “Space Cowboy.” By this time the crowd was well and truly warmed up, and “Use the Force” got them on their feet.

“The song seemed to resonate with everyone” Jay Kay told Arab News in an exclusive interview after the show.

During the gig, Kay dedicated the 2002 song “Corner of the Earth” to AlUla, which he described as a “magical and wonderful place, which is absolutely stunning.” The opportunity to perform there was “an honor and privilege” he added. He also thanked “Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman for his vision, and Prince Badr for making this happen and the great hospitality.”

After a further selection of singles and album tracks, the show ended on a high with a quartet of hits — “Cosmic Girl,” “Virtual Insanity,” “Canned Heat” and “Lovefoolosophy.”

Kay praised the Maraya Concert Hall as “a brilliant place to play.” He admitted that initially he was a little worried when he saw it because he was under the impression it would be an outdoor venue. However, any concerns he had were gone by the time the first sound check was done.

“I was transported into a completely different world; the acoustics were unbelievable, like being in a German concert hall,” he said. “It is obviously very well thought out and that’s what makes it so good. The sound was fabulous — I never looked at my sound guy once.”

Jamiroquai’s music videos often feature Kay in super cars, of which he owns many, and he revealed that he would love to shoot such a promo in AlUla.

“In reality, I’m desperate to get in one of the dune buggies, and would kill to have a (Ariel) Nomad and have a go in one in AlUla, where it’s supposed to be driven, for a day or five and dune bash, which is such a rare thing for us in England,” he said.

The singer also said he wants to bring his family to AlUla, which has become a hub for culture and creativity in Saudi Arabia.

“I would like to come out with my family and my youngest, who is called Talula, so hopefully we can have Talula come to AlUla, which would be wonderful,” said Kay.

He added that he was looking forward to exploring the area on Saturday, before leaving the country, but added: “I’m sure you can never have enough time to see everything there is to see.”