How Saudi Arabia’s founder brought fresh water to Jeddah and ushered in a modern Kingdom

How Saudi Arabia’s founder brought fresh water to Jeddah and ushered in a modern Kingdom
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Saudi Arabia’s founder, Ibn Saud, with his son, King Saud. (Getty Images)
How Saudi Arabia’s founder brought fresh water to Jeddah and ushered in a modern Kingdom
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The drawings are being offered for sale by London dealer Peter Harrington, which has long specialized in rare books from or about the Middle East, along with a copy of the rarely available “History of Aziziah Water Supply Juddah, and Glimpses on the Sources of Water in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” written by Abdul Qaddous Al-Ansari and published in 1972. (Supplied)
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Updated 01 August 2020

How Saudi Arabia’s founder brought fresh water to Jeddah and ushered in a modern Kingdom

How Saudi Arabia’s founder brought fresh water to Jeddah and ushered in a modern Kingdom
  • Technical drawings in presentation wallet reveal a key moment in Saudi Arabia’s history
  • Previously unseen drawings up for sale by London rare-book dealer Peter Harrington

LONDON: At first glance, £17,500 might seem like a steep price to ask for the small red leatherette wallet, measuring just 15 by 20 cm, dated December 1948 and bearing the seemingly uninspiring legend “City of Jeddah water supply.”

But in fact, as a unique record of one of the most important infrastructure projects from the early years of Saudi Arabia, the wallet — containing five historically important hand-colored maps and plans — is a priceless memento of a key moment in the transformation of the Kingdom into a modern state.

Only one example of the set is known to exist. Marked “To A.A. from D.R.B.,” it is believed to have been a gift from the British engineer David Ross Balfour to Ahmad Ashmawi, the Saudi-born assistant director of the transformative Jeddah water project.

At the inauguration ceremony in 1947, it was Ashmawi who presented the scheme to Crown Prince Saud bin Abdul Aziz, the son of the Kingdom’s founder Ibn Saud, on behalf of his employer, the British company Gellatly, Hankey & Co., which oversaw the project for the king.




The drawings are being offered for sale by London dealer Peter Harrington, which has long specialized in rare books from or about the Middle East, along with a copy of the rarely available “History of Aziziah Water Supply Juddah, and Glimpses on the Sources of Water in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” written by Abdul Qaddous Al-Ansari and published in 1972. (Supplied)

The drawings are being offered for sale by London dealer Peter Harrington, which has long specialized in rare books from or about the Middle East, along with a copy of the rarely available “History of Aziziah Water Supply Juddah, and Glimpses on the Sources of Water in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” written by Abdul Qaddous Al-Ansari and published in 1972.

The true significance of the documents in the red wallet, according to Raphael Cormack, a specialist researcher for Peter Harrington Rare Books, is that they show the determination of Ibn Saud to improve the quality of life for pilgrims to the Hejaz in the early days of the Kingdom.

“Prior to oil, the new Saudi Kingdom depended on revenues from the Hajj,” Cormack told Arab News, “and the improvement of facilities for pilgrims in the Hejaz was, therefore, of vital importance.”

Ibn Saud had inherited a creaking 19th-century Ottoman system that supplied water from wells at Al-Waziriya, and from a coal-fired seawater condenser that mainly benefitted the city’s expat community and those who could afford to pay for its exorbitantly priced water.




Ali bin Hussein, first king of Hejaz, in 1922. (Getty Images)

Jeddah was the main port of entry for thousands of pilgrims who each year traveled to the Holy City of Makkah. According to records published by the British India Office in 1937, 25,291 pilgrims arrived by sea in the Hejaz in 1934, the vast majority landing at Jeddah.

Here, supplies of water, provided by seawater condenser, often stagnant rainwater reservoirs and limited amounts of well water, were inadequate to meet the pilgrims’ needs.

Some water flowed 12 km from the spring at Al-Waziriya, but tests during the autumn of 1933 found the pipe to be “decayed and clogged with detritus” and that “the water arrived in the town cistern considerably polluted.”

After decades of neglect under the increasingly impoverished Ottoman empire and years of conflict between the Hashemites of Hejaz and the Saudis of the Nejd, Jeddah’s water supply was failing.




Historical house in old Jeddah, 1935. (Alamy Stock Photo)

Ibn Saud finally defeated the forces of King Hussein’s short-lived Kingdom of the Hejaz in 1925, absorbing the territory into the Kingdom of Nejd to form Saudi Arabia.

From that moment the fortunes of Jeddah, and the wellbeing of the thousands of ship-borne pilgrims who passed through the port on pilgrimage to Madinah and Makkah, began to be transformed.

The first consequence of Ibn Saud’s rule, according to “Gellatly’s,” a 1962 history of the British company that helped to bring Ibn Saud’s vision to fruition, was that “tranquillity descended upon the territory around Jeddah … pilgrim routes to Makkah and Madinah were made safe for travelers” and “the law became firm and uniform.”

According to George Blake, the author of the history of the firm, which had been operating on both sides of the Red Sea since about 1884, Muslims “revered Ibn Saud as a combination of conqueror and man of impressive religious orthodoxy.”

But the king was also to show that “his qualifications had even greater dimensions (as) he sought to improve the prosperity and status of his country in relation to the rest of the world.”

Gellatly’s, which among its many enterprises had been operating a shipping business serving the pilgrimage trade in Jeddah since the mid-1880s, was well known to the king.

Key Dates

  • 1

    Ottoman authorities begin a three-year project to pipe water to Jeddah from a well at Al-Waziriya. It is soon sabotaged by owners of water tanks profiting from Jeddah’s water shortage.

  • 2

    Ottomans order a seawater filtration machine for Jeddah.

  • 3

    The Hejaz is absorbed into the Kingdom of Ibn Saud.

  • 4

    Jeddah seawater filtration machine breaks down; Ibn Saud imports a new one.

  • 5

    The first systematic survey of the Kingdom’s natural resources discovers a source of fresh water in springs in the foothills east of Jeddah in Wadi Fatima.

  • 6

    Ibn Saud orders an ambitious new water scheme, to be completed in time for Hajj in 1947.

  • 7

    Opening of Jeddah’s new water supply is marked by major celebrations.

 

The company had operated several offices in the region since the mid-1880s, in Khartoum and along the Red Sea in Jeddah, Suakin, Port Sudan, Massawa and Tokar, and ran a caravanserai (a resthouse for pilgrims arriving by camel caravan) in Jeddah, while, as shipping agents, it facilitated the movement of pilgrims by sea.

It had also played a crucial part in the early years of Ibn Saud’s unified reign following his absorption of the Hejaz in 1925.

Before oil was struck in 1933, the bulk of the government’s income was derived from the flow of overseas pilgrims, a precarious source of revenue often affected by events beyond the control of the Saudis, and when times grew hard Gellatly’s was there to arrange loans to tide over Ibn Saud.

It was, therefore, no surprise when in 1946 the king selected the company to play a key role in a major infrastructure project vital to the future of the Hajj.

The king’s determination to see Jeddah served by a modern water supply would not only ease the path of pilgrims bound for the holy cities, but would also change Jeddah beyond recognition, setting it on course to become the major vibrant city it is today.

Although as the nearest port to the holy city of Makkah, Jeddah was the natural gateway for pilgrims before the advent of widespread air travel, lack of fresh water had always hampered the expansion of the city and the growth of the pilgrimage industry.

Both had been held hostage by powerful groups of local businessmen who maintained water tanks around the city and charged exorbitant prices for the often dangerously filthy contents.

In 1884, the Ottoman authorities embarked on a plan to pipe water to Jeddah from a well at Al-Waziriya, about 12 km away.

According to a paper published in the journal Comparative Studies in Society and History in October 2015, it took 3,000 men more than three years to complete the project.

On its completion in 1888, wrote the author Michael Low, a specialist in late Ottoman and modern Middle Eastern history at Iowa State University, Jeddah “was graced by a new ornamental fountain, an ablutions station, a water depot, and a distribution reservoir and it appeared that the city had been rescued from the clutches of its water profiteers.”

But within two years “it was becoming increasingly difficult to fill the water depot and distribution reservoirs.” The scheme had been sabotaged.

“The spring’s rapid decline was no engineering malfunction; local tank owners, prevented from selling rainwater, had hatched a plot to ‘cancel’ the benefits of Jeddah’s new water supply by purposefully clogging the water pipes.”

The Ottoman authorities turned in desperation to expensive seawater filtration machines, two of which were ordered for Jeddah and Yanbu in 1907.

Both were up and running by 1911, but “when the Saudis conquered the short-lived Hashemite Kingdom of the Hejaz in 1925, they inherited Jeddah’s chronic water problems.”

Desalinated water, which provided only a fraction of the city’s daily needs, “was subject to frequent service disruptions.” Shortages of coal — caused first by Allied embargoes during World War I and then by the fighting in the Hejaz in 1924-1925 — led to firewood being used to power the Jeddah condenser which, irreparably damaged, finally broke down in 1927.

In 1926 and 1927, Ibn Saud imported two new machines, but distilled water remained an expensive luxury beyond the pockets of many and “Saudi leaders were desperate to rescue Jeddah from its dependency on condenser and tank water.”

A survey carried out by an American geologist in 1931 found “no geological evidence to justify the hope for flowing artesian wells” in the Hejaz, but Ibn Saud refused to give up.

Finally, in 1942, a US agricultural mission carried out the first systematic survey of the Kingdom’s water, geological, and agricultural resources — and discovered a source of fresh water in a series of springs in the foothills between 40 and 65 km east of the city in Wadi Fatima.

The surveyors concluded that the newfound source was “sufficient to relieve Jeddah’s chronic water troubles” and Ibn Saud turned to the British firm Gellatly’s to make it happen.

“One of the interesting things about this project,” explained Cormack, the specialist researcher, “is that it was pushed personally by Abdul Aziz to improve water security in time for the Hajj in 1947.”

It was a race against time, but it was a race that was won.

Gellatly’s, in turn, appointed the British civil engineering firm D. Balfour & Sons to design and lead the project, local contractors Mohammed and Abdullah bin Laden to excavate the trenches, and the Cairo-based Egyptian Company for Concrete Cement Works to lay the pipes.

David Ross Balfour, chosen to lead the project for his father’s firm, arrived in Jeddah on Nov. 21, 1946. As the beautifully drawn plans offered for sale in the red leatherette case show, Abu Shuaib, the well nearest to the city, was the first to be connected, and its water reached Jeddah on Nov. 15, 1947.




A red leatherette wallet, dated December 1948 and bearing the words ‘City of Jeddah water supply,’ captures a key moment in Saudi Arabia’s transformation into a modern state.

Success was celebrated just three days later with a ceremony led by Crown Prince Saud, who would succeed his father in 1953. Hundreds of local and foreign dignitaries were present for the celebrations, which included readings from the Qur’an, speeches, poetry, gunfire and a flypast by a formation of Saudi Dakota aircraft.

The water from other wells was added to the flow over the following years — full capacity was reached in December 1950 — and the impact of the project was both swift and remarkable, as a colorful passage in George Blake’s 1962 history of Gellatly’s recorded.

“Jeddah, partly due to that new and wonderful water supply, has now burst out of its ancient walls,” wrote author Blake just 15 years after the historic opening ceremony of Ibn Saud’s transformative waterworks. “They have literally come tumbling down as victims of the horns of plenty.”

Perhaps the most intriguing and historically important of the four planning documents in the presentation set of drawings now on offer is a plan of Jeddah, dated to 1947.

Drawn on a scale of 1:2,500, it shows in historically important detail a now-lost city, comprising a tight-knit configuration of buildings and streets still contained within walls that dated back in some parts to the 16th century.

As the city began rapidly to expand, the demolition of those walls would begin in the very year that water finally flowed into Jeddah from the Wadi Fatima.

------

SEARCH FOR OIL AND WATER

As a curious byproduct, Ibn Saud’s search for water for Jeddah would also lead to the discovery of another natural resource — one that would transform Saudi Arabia’s fortunes.

In 1930, at the request of Ibn Saud, the New York industrialist and Arabist Charles R. Crane visited Jeddah to see the water problem for himself. Crane then sent his chief geologist and engineer, Karl Twitchell, who had been working on a similar project in Yemen, to carry out a survey of the Hejaz’s water resources.

Unfortunately, this survey, carried out by Twitchell in April 1931, found “no geological evidence to justify the hope for flowing artesian wells.”




A plan showing Jeddah’s completed water supply system. (Supplied)

According to Michael Low, a specialist in late Ottoman and modern Middle Eastern history at Iowa State University, “the Saudis were disappointed but undaunted.

Recognizing the precariousness of relying on the pilgrimage as their principal revenue stream, they asked Twitchell to explore alternative possible sources of revenue” — and so it was that the search for water in the Hejaz opened the door to the transformative miracle of oil.

Twitchell believed there might be commercial quantities of oil in the Arabian Peninsula and the rest, as they say, is history.

In 1931, Ibn Saud asked the geologist to undertake a survey of Al-Ahsa and the Arabian Gulf coast, and it was there that the American “would encounter the oil-rich environment that would eventually ensure Saudi Arabia’s global might.”

Twitchell’s papers, now held at Princeton University Library, reveal that Ibn Saud feared that by drastically reducing the number of pilgrims, the Great Depression would wreck his plans for development.

In 1932, he asked Twitchell to find a US investor to fund oil exploration and, in May 1933, Saudi Arabia granted a concession to the Standard Oil Company of California, the first step toward the foundation of the Arabian American Oil Company (Aramco), which today is the world’s largest oil firm.

Nevertheless, wrote Low in the journal Comparative Studies in Society and History in 2015, “this did not mean that oil instantly became the Saudis’ top priority.

They still believed that water was key to their consolidation of the peninsula.” 


Inside the corridors of Mawhiba, Saudi Arabia’s foundation for creativity

Inside the corridors of Mawhiba, Saudi Arabia’s foundation for creativity
Updated 18 June 2021

Inside the corridors of Mawhiba, Saudi Arabia’s foundation for creativity

Inside the corridors of Mawhiba, Saudi Arabia’s foundation for creativity
  • Innovative Saudi youngsters take home top prizes at international science and engineering fair

JEDDAH: Despite all the challenges the world has been facing over the past year, King Abdul Aziz and his Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity (Mawhiba) has managed to embrace 30 outstanding Saudi students to represent the Kingdom in the world’s largest science competition, Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) 2021.

ISEF was held virtually in the US in May, and more than 1,800 students from 70 countries participated.

The science fair targeted innovative high school senior students, who were called on to create science projects based on their research.

The winners of this year were announced on May 20-21. The Kingdom was lucky to take home grand prizes for the first top four winners, who came in second, third and fourth places. The prizes varied, with some winners receiving cash and top university scholarships, while others had their projects adopted by major international and local companies.

SPEEDREAD

Regeneron ISEF 2021 was held virtually in the US.

The Kingdom competed with 30 scientific projects by 30 students from various educational departments, representing the Saudi national team.

The Saudi national team won second, third and fourth place.

All the winning projects contribute to the Kingdom Vision 2030.

Since 2007, Mawhiba has helped the Kingdom achieve 83 ISEF awards.

Winners were announced by the US jury, who based their decisions on elements including creativity, presentation skills, ability to answer deep questions related to the projects, and confidence.

Arab News spoke with the winners to learn more about their projects, inspirations, dreams and more.

 

Saudi Arabia’s winners:

Mansour Al-Marzouqi, second-place winner

Mansour Al-Marzouqi won the second-place grand international prize in the field of Energy: Materials and Sustainable Design for his project “Advanced Synthesis of Potent Photocapacitor Based on Novel 3D-Hierarchical BiVO4 and Self-Synthesized Carbon” — in other words: “Designing a Super-Capacitor that Charges Itself with Light.”

Using locally abundant elements including carbon from date palm leaves and semiconductors such as bismuth and vanadium, Al-Marzouqi’s project was inspired by renewable energy and was endorsed by his professor from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals.

“I fabricated an energy storage device, known as a super-capacitor, that could charge itself under light exposure only. Yet, I greatly increased the electrochemical performance of the device, which allowed it to function as a battery, a capacitor and a solar cell all at once,” he told Arab News.

He added: “Winning in such a competition has been a dream of mine. I felt a huge surge of happiness, gratitude, pride, accomplishment and honor. Winning in Regeneron ISEF is a very tough benchmark, especially due to the extremely high competition.”

Al-Marzouqi hopes that his invention will serve as a “virtue to society,” advancing knowledge and limiting the demand on energy.

“The application of such projects is broad. Supplying enough energy to people is a difficult task, and my project is a great way to address this issue,” the student added.

He is looking forward to proposing the idea to distinguished institutions such as Saudi Aramco, the Ministry of Energy, NEOM, and the Saudi Electricity Company.

“I feel it is my duty to apply impactful projects like this one here in my country,” he said.

 

Rasha Al-Qahtani, third-place winner

Rasha Al-Qahtani from Riyadh is the third place winner in the field of social and behavioral sciences for her project “An innovative video game feature for the psychological diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder in adolescence.”

“I created a novel feature that can be applied to video games to help diagnose generalized anxiety disorder in adolescence by displaying decisions for the player to choose from while playing,” she told Arab News. “This approach is the first of its kind.”

Al-Qahtani praised Mawhiba and her parents for their support throughout her nine-year educational journey and expressed how honored she was with this accomplishment.

“I feel  honored to have received this appreciation for my research at one of the most challenging science fairs,” she added. “I am proud to represent my beloved country and prove that we symbolize Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s quote when he said: ‘Our ambition is sky-high.’”

 

Arwa Niazi , fourth-place winner

Arwa Niazi from Dhahran, in the Eastern Province, has been part of Mawhiba since she was in the sixth grade. She received the fourth-place award in the field of material science for her project, “Fabrication of self-charging super-capacitor using laser-assisted self-synthesized carbon quantum dots,” or more simply, “Manufacturing a super-capacitor that responds to the sun using quantum carbon dots.”

“Many researchers have previously tried to create the device that I worked on, but the problem was in the toxic materials applied,” she told Arab News. “With my device, however, I worked on making it 100 percent environmentally friendly.”

She added: “During the pandemic, Mawhiba did a lot to help us participate in this competition. My school provided me with mentors, labs and all the materials I needed, and I am so happy to make my country, family and school proud.”

She expressed how thrilled she was to be among the top four winners and how winning will define her path in future studies.

“Winning feels amazing, and I’m proud that my hard work has paid off,” she said.

Niazi’s application to the University of Wisconsin-Madison has been accepted, and she is currently waiting for a scholarship to support her. She hopes to join King Abdullah University for Science and Technology’s Gifted Student Program or Saudi Aramco’s 10-month College Preparatory Program.

She is also considering being part of the first batch of female students to join King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals. In a historic announcement, the university in Dhahran announced that it would start admitting female students for the first time in the 2021/2022 academic year. The university, established in 1963 by a royal decree as the College of Petroleum and Minerals, is widely renowned for its strong science, engineering, business and management programs. It is ranked fourth in the top 100 worldwide universities granted US utility patents in 2018.


NEOM initiative aims to help Saudi craftspeople develop their businesses

NEOM initiative aims to help Saudi craftspeople develop their businesses
Updated 2 min 18 sec ago

NEOM initiative aims to help Saudi craftspeople develop their businesses

NEOM initiative aims to help Saudi craftspeople develop their businesses
  • Craft+ runs for two weeks with the aim of empowering and supporting home businesses and micro-enterprises

JEDDAH: A new initiative in NEOM and Tabuk is providing financial support and training to help people working in the local crafts sector develop their businesses.

Craft+ was launched this month by NEOM’s Social Responsibility Program and the Dulani Business Center, a key Social Development Bank program. It runs for two weeks with the aim of empowering and supporting home businesses and micro-enterprises, and providing development and training assistance to help local craftspeople improve the efficiency of their operations and contribute to the development and sustainability of business in the Kingdom. This is in line with the aims of the NEOM megacity project and Saudi Vision 2030.

Craft sectors targeted by the initiative include embroidery and fashion, jewelry making, painting and sculpture, sadu (traditional Bedouin weaving), palm industries and the manufacturing of perfume and incense.

The program concludes with a five-day bazaar in Tabuk Park Mall that will begin on June 18 and be open from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. each day. Items made by the participants will be on show to raise awareness of the importance of local crafts, and available to buy.

The initiative is taking place under the auspices of NEOM’s Social Responsibility Program, which aims to empower local communities to unlock their potential, preserve their culture and heritage, contribute to the economic growth of NEOM, and succeed in the work environment of the future. It aims to achieve this by 2025 through transformational educational and training programs, entrepreneurial and employment initiatives, and community development efforts.

NEOM also recently launched an initiative designed to provide employment opportunities for local residents, and aims to provide training and upskilling programs to at least 7,000 people by 2025. Since 2020, NEOM has also provided training in the English language and information technology to more than 1,000 residents of the surrounding areas.

The Social Responsibility Program has also organized a series of workshops, in collaboration with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and Think Tech, to enhance digital literacy and increase digital awareness.

In January Saudi authorities announced that a huge zero-carbon smart city will be built at NEOM in northwestern Saudi Arabia. The project, called The Line, will be home to a million people and have no cars and or roads.


Misk, Saudi Telecom sign deal for training and development

Misk, Saudi Telecom sign deal for training and development
Updated 18 June 2021

Misk, Saudi Telecom sign deal for training and development

Misk, Saudi Telecom sign deal for training and development
  • MoU aims to enhance cooperation in several fields at the institutional level and within entities affiliated with both parties
  • Partnership will also support entrepreneurship and innovation through STC’s InspireU and ImpactU programs

RIYADH:  The Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz Foundation (Misk) and Saudi Telecom Co. (STC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to enhance cooperation in several fields at the institutional level and within entities affiliated with both parties.

The MoU, signed by Misk CEO Badr bin Hamoud Al-Badr and STC Group CEO Olayan Al-Wetaid, included several strategic objectives in the fields of training and development, and leadership preparation in cooperation with the STC Academy.

It also focused on supporting entrepreneurship and innovation through STC’s InspireU and ImpactU programs, in addition to social investment projects, volunteer programs, and on-the-job training initiatives for graduates of Misk programs at STC and its subsidiaries.

This partnership is proof of STC’s role and contribution to the Kingdom's Vision 2030 through social responsibility programs and support for national initiatives in developing human capital, unleashing youth capabilities in various fields, and accelerating innovation and digital transformation.

This memorandum of understanding will also support Misk's efforts towards digital transformation by benefiting from the various innovative technical services and solutions provided by STC and its subsidiaries.


 


Hajj without smart card, permit will not be allowed

Hajj without smart card,  permit will not be allowed
Updated 18 June 2021

Hajj without smart card, permit will not be allowed

Hajj without smart card,  permit will not be allowed
  • Permit will be matched with the electronic card and the pilgrim’s ID

JEDDAH: In an effort to ensure compliance with coronavirus (COVID-19) safety measures, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah confirmed that no one will be allowed to perform Hajj without a smart card and a documented official permit.

Dr. Abdulfattah Mashat, deputy minister of Hajj and Umrah, said that the permit will be matched with the electronic card and the pilgrim’s ID, noting that there is no platform to apply for Hajj except the official website of the ministry.

“Any company that offers service packages outside the ministry’s platform is violating the system,” he said. 

“At the first stages of the ‘Eatmarna’ application, we noticed some violations by some entities and individuals, but with the passage of time, community awareness began to increase.”

Mashat said this year’s Hajj will use permits through the “Absher” platform only. Information for those who purchased their Hajj packages on the ministry’s platform will be linked to Absher and their ID.

According to the deputy minister, more than 470,000 applications have been received as of Wednesday at 5 p.m. as all met the conditions of immunization and have never performed Hajj before.

FASTFACT

470K

More than 470,000 applications have been received as of Wednesday at 5 p.m. as all met the conditions of immunization and have never performed Hajj before.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah called on all domestic pilgrims connected with the ministry to adhere to health instructions to enable those wishing to perform Hajj.

The ministry said resident locations will apply visual and thermal screening procedures upon pilgrims’ entrance and movement.

The allocated hotels in Makkah and Madinah must conform to the requirements listed by the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, and other bodies concerned with monitoring the accommodation of pilgrims.

The hotels must take into account the application of precautionary measures to prevent crowding inside rooms. The hotels also have to provide catering services for each pilgrim in his room as open buffets are banned.

A health guide (or health leader) from the concerned authority will be available during the pilgrims’ presence in the Hajj areas and during their movements.

This step comes to ensure the preventive measures. Pilgrims must consult a doctor if they suspect COVID-19 symptoms to ensure his safety and the safety of others.

Regarding the procedures in the holy sites, the Two Holy Mosques, and the central area in Makkah and Madinah, social distancing will be enforced throughout the grouping of pilgrims in all Hajj stages. This is in accordance with health requirements in residential buildings and tents. Pilgrims’ bags and baggage carts will be disinfected periodically.

Security guards will facilitate the exit of pilgrims from holy sites according to the time allotted to them and will ensure adherence to the number of pilgrims allowed in one space (no more than 50 people). Seat numbers on buses will be assigned to each pilgrim during the entire Hajj trip and standing inside busses will not be allowed. There will be an empty seat assigned between each pilgrim and carrying personal carry-on baggage will be prohibited.

In the case that a passenger suspects COVID-19 symptoms, the bus will be stopped and disinfected.

The ministries of health and hajj announced Saturday that a total of 60,000 pilgrims will be allowed to perform the pilgrimage this year, which will begin mid-July.


Visitors to Saudi Arabia must complete COVID-19 registration before departure

Visitors to Saudi Arabia must complete COVID-19 registration before departure
Updated 18 June 2021

Visitors to Saudi Arabia must complete COVID-19 registration before departure

Visitors to Saudi Arabia must complete COVID-19 registration before departure
  • GACA said this protocol will help facilitate the entry procedures and reduce waiting periods at ports of entry
  • The circular was issued to all airlines in the Kingdom

RIYADH: All foreign travelers and their companions traveling to the Kingdom must complete registration for their coronavirus (COVID-19) immunization data before departure, according to a circular issued Thursday by Saudi Arabia’s Civil Aviation Authority.
The General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) said this protocol will help facilitate the entry procedures and reduce waiting periods at ports of entry.
The registration is applicable to all citizens from Gulf Cooperation Council countries, holders of new visas, residents, and their companions, both inoculated and non-vaccinated.
The move is “in line with efforts made by the Kingdom to limit the spread of COVID-19 while ensuring the safety of citizens and residents,” GACA said.