Women police officers join Makkah’s Hajj security forces for first time

Hajj began on Wednesday as pilgrims began their journey from the Grand Mosque in Makkah amid strict safety rules. (AFP)
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Updated 29 July 2020

Women police officers join Makkah’s Hajj security forces for first time

  • Selected group of 1,000 pilgrims safely complete opening day festival ritual

JEDDAH: Saudi women police officers have been fronting Makkah’s security force for the first time during this year’s Hajj season.

Following last year’s government announcement that women could join the military service, female officers have been able to join their male colleagues in policing the holy city for the Muslim festival.

And with strict measures in place to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, the pilgrimage has been very different from normal.

Afnan Abu Hussein, who was among the first batch of women cadets to graduate from police service training, told Al-Ekhbariya TV: “This is a source of pride and happiness for us. Hajj is a very busy season for us, unlike normal days.”

Hajj began on Wednesday as pilgrims began their journey from the Grand Mosque in Makkah amid strict safety rules.

“Each group of pilgrims has a leader to facilitate and control their movement in order to ensure social distancing,” said Sari Asiri, director general of Hajj and Umrah affairs at the Ministry of Health.

“Moreover, each group is also accompanied by a health professional to monitor pilgrims’ health status and assist them when needed,” he added.

Ministry officials carried out a rigorous selection process to ensure the wellbeing of pilgrims before their arrival in Makkah.

“We visited each pilgrim at their home and did an overall test for their health condition, and we monitored them on a daily basis until they safely arrived at their hotels in Makkah,” Asiri said.

All workers serving pilgrims this year had also undergone health checks to ensure they were free of COVID-19, and Makkah hospitals and health centers have been readied to deal with any emergency.

Tarwiyah Day (fetching water), on Wednesday, was the first day of Hajj ritual. Pilgrims headed to the Grand Mosque to perform Tawaf and Saee between Safa and Marwah hills.

The few hundred pilgrims received at the Grand Mosque this year walked in their groups along specific pathways following their guide.

The movement protocols were designed and implemented by the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques in collaboration with the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah and security authorities.

The presidency has allocated specific entrance and exit doors for each group of pilgrims to prevent any crowding and ensure a smooth flow of movement and the organization of social distancing measures passed the efficiency test for the first day of Hajj.

Civil Defense Forces have stepped up their readiness in Mina to receive the pilgrims where they will spend the night before moving to Arafat mount.

Meanwhile, Saudi Public Security announced that it had arrested 244 violators of Hajj guidelines who had attempted to enter holy sites without permission. A spokesperson called on citizens and expats to abide by the law and Hajj instructions, stressing that security forces had imposed a tight cordon around Makkah and the holy sites.

Those caught at the holy sites without permission risk fines of up to SR10,000, with fines increasing for repeated violations.

Each year, about 2.5 million pilgrims descend on Makkah for the annual Hajj, but the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that only about 1,000 will be able to perform it this year.
 


Fahad Al-Azzam, assistant deputy minister for empowerment at the Saudi Ministry of Health

Updated 14 August 2020

Fahad Al-Azzam, assistant deputy minister for empowerment at the Saudi Ministry of Health

Fahad Al-Azzam has been the assistant deputy minister for empowerment at the Ministry of Health since September 2019.
He has also been the general manager for enterprise at the ministry’s project management office since July 2016, where he developed and implemented a standard set of project management processes and models, and built the framework and updated it to account for developments and best practices.
It was announced on Monday that Al-Azzam’s role as assistant deputy minister for empowerment has been extended for another year.
Al-Azzam obtained a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, Dhahran, in 2007. He studied abroad in the US, obtaining a master’s degree in engineering and technology management from the University of Bridgeport, Connecticut, in 2014.
Prior to his current position, Al-Azzam worked as a cooperative trainee at the Saudi Electricity Co. between May and October 2006.
At the Advanced Electronics Co., he worked as an assistant field service engineer between July 2007 and May 2009, and technical support and field service engineer between May 2009 and December 2010.
At the Saudi Food and Drug Authority, he worked as senior electrical engineer at their radiation safety department between January 2011 and February 2015.
He developed a safety program for exporting and importing electronics devices to and from Saudi Arabia and worked at controlling the risk resulting from the use of radiation-emitting devices. He also worked there as a project manager at their project management office between February 2015 and July 2016.