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 customs train dogs to sniff out infected air travelers

Saudi Health Ministry officials distribute roses to people following precautionary measures to prevent coronavirus. (Supplied)
Updated 05 August 2020

Saudi customs train dogs to sniff out infected air travelers

  • 1,983 critical cases reported, death toll reaches 2,984

JEDDAH: Saudi Customs officials are taking the lead in identifying air travelers harboring the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) — by using specially trained sniffer dogs.

The canine virus detectors are being drafted in at airports throughout the Kingdom to help pick up the scent of infected passengers.
Following the resumption of international flights, customs staff in Saudi Arabia are to use the animals as part of their efforts to stop the spread of the deadly virus.
The customs authority, in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has been training Jack Russell terriers and other breeds to recognize the odor of COVID-19.
“The training has been 80 percent successful,” said Mohammed Al-Salloum, director of the National Center for Living Means at Saudi Customs, adding that final preparations were being put in place for the dog teams to start work in airport terminals throughout the country.
Meanwhile, the Saudi Ministry of Health on Tuesday announced 1,342 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, taking the total number in the Kingdom to 281,435.
Of the latest cases, 97 were recorded in Riyadh, 56 in Makkah, 53 in Madinah and Hafr Al-Batin, and 51 in Dammam, with 40 percent of them women. There were 34,763 active cases, with most patients in a stable condition, and 1,983 critical.
The number of people who have recovered from COVID-19 increased to 243,688 with 1,635 of those being in the latest 24-hour period. The Kingdom reported 35 new COVID-19-related deaths, raising the overall toll to 2,984.
The ministry said it had carried out 54,325 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests over 24 hours taking the total number of checks conducted since the outbreak to 3,528,040.