Services to pilgrims based on latest technological innovations, minister says

Technology has made it easier for pilgrims and and agencies administering Hajj affairs and providing security during Hajj. (SPA)
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Updated 31 July 2020

Services to pilgrims based on latest technological innovations, minister says

RIYADH: Technology is being harnessed again this year to provide better services for pilgrims, according to Dr. Abdul Fattah bin Suleiman Mashat, Saudi Arabia’s deputy minister of Hajj and Umrah.

Mashat said that for the second year in a row, the ministry had implemented the “smart card” initiative, which aimed to provide high-quality services to pilgrims and facilitate the journey of worshippers while performing their rituals.

The “smart card” was an extension of the “Smart Hajj” platform, which covers the digital identity of the pilgrim. Mashat said that, with this year’s requirements, services related to the card had been developed to include the personal, medical and residential information of the pilgrim, including his Hajj regiment, bus and seat number, residence, room number and bed.

In addition, it helped to guide pilgrims to their homes and controlled their entry to site facilities, in addition to reducing irregular pilgrims.

Mashat said that one of the most important features of the “smart card” was its design — using a set of color groups related to program services, grouping and transfer — and included NFC technology to read Hajj data through self-service devices. In addition, it contained a barcode that Hajj workers were able to read to improve services provided to pilgrims.

He said that the ministry had started the implementation of the strategic executive plan for this year’s Hajj season early following the Kingdom’s decision to organize Hajj for very limited numbers. This was to prevent the spread of the coronavirus as it would have been impossible to ensure social distancing had a large number of pilgrims been received.

Mashat said: “The ministry, and all parties concerned with organizing this year’s Hajj season, were keen on procuring the best services to pilgrims while applying the highest health and safety standards, and the preventive and precautionary measures, according to the directions of the Kingdom’s leadership to provide the best services to the pilgrims.”


Riyadh roads turn green as world’s largest urban greening project branches out

Based on experience, roads and streets without trees contain eight to 10 times the amount of dust compared with streets lined with trees on both sides. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 03 August 2020

Riyadh roads turn green as world’s largest urban greening project branches out

  • Capital gets a facelift as Vision 2030 program works to plant 7.5 million trees
  • Most of the tree species used in the project are from a well-developed local environment with low agricultural service and care

RIYADH: The Green Riyadh project, one of the world’s largest urban greening initiatives, is rapidly bearing fruit as it transforms main roads in the capital.

Major thoroughfares, including King Khalid, Makkah and King Salman roads, are getting a facelift as part of the Vision 2030 goal of improving quality of life in the city.
Dr. Fahad Al-Mana, a professor of Ornamental Plants, Gardens and Green Areas at King Saud University, told Arab News that native tree species being used for the project include Ziziphus spina-christi, Acacia gerrardii and Prosopis cineraria, commonly known as the ghaf tree.
According to Al-Mana, the trees can survive in harsh desert conditions and will grow without intensive agricultural care.
“Most of the tree species used in the planting of the Green Riyadh project are from a well-developed local environment with low agricultural service and care,” he said.
Environmental conditions in Riyadh were taken into account during the tree selection process. The species can grow to a large size in only three years.
“In some locations, they have moved large 3-year-old local trees that were taken care of in plant nurseries to new locations where they are growing successfully,” Al-Mana said.
Green Riyadh will increase the amount of greenery in the city and augment the green cover in the Saudi capital with the planting of 7.5 million trees around the city’s main features and facilities.
The project will reduce the average ambient temperature by 2 degrees Celsius and improve air quality, encouraging people to follow a healthier lifestyle by walking or cycling.

FASTFACTS

• The project will reduce the average ambient temperature by 2 degrees Celsius and improve air quality, encouraging people to follow a healthier lifestyle by walking or cycling.

• The project will maximize the use of recycled water in irrigation works by increasing usage from 90,000 cubic meters per day to more than 1 million cubic meters per day through the construction of a new recycled water network.

• Green space in the city will increase from 5 percent to 9 percent by 2030

“The aim of planting trees in the streets is to provide shade and moderate the temperature, especially in summer, which contributes to the purification of air and reduces environmental pollution by protecting the city from sand storms, winds and dust. In addition, it gives an aesthetic view and the element of nature enters the city and nearby structures,” said Al-Mana.
He added that trees, especially those planted in central street islands, must have long trunks and high branches to avoid hindering the movement of pedestrians and cars. The trunk must measure at least 3 to 4 meters and the size of the trees planted must be proportional to the width of the island.
Al-Mana said green space in the city will increase from 5 percent to 9 percent by 2030.
According to the Green Riyadh website, the project will maximize the use of recycled water in irrigation works by increasing usage from 90,000 cubic meters per
day to more than 1 million cubic meters per day through the construction of a new recycled water network.
Al-Mana said the Green Riyadh project will also reduce carbon dioxide and impurity levels in the city.
“Based on experience, roads and streets without trees contain eight to 10 times the amount of dust compared with streets lined with trees on both sides,” he said.