Saudi Red Crescent Authority deploys more than 2,500 staff ahead of Hajj

The Saudi Red Crescent Authority has deployed 2,540 staff across nearly 100 ambulance centers ahead of Hajj 2024. (@mediasrcaen)
The Saudi Red Crescent Authority has deployed 2,540 staff across nearly 100 ambulance centers ahead of Hajj 2024. (@mediasrcaen)
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Updated 28 May 2024
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Saudi Red Crescent Authority deploys more than 2,500 staff ahead of Hajj

The Saudi Red Crescent Authority has deployed 2,540 staff across nearly 100 ambulance centers ahead of Hajj 2024. (@mediasrcaen)
  • The staff will be strategically positioned across 98 ambulance centers, covering entry points, pilgrim routes, and holy sites

RIYADH: The Saudi Red Crescent Authority has deployed 2,540 medical professionals, ambulance technicians, and administrative staff across nearly 100 ambulance centers ahead of Hajj 2024.

The move will ensure the well-being of pilgrims and deliver high-quality medical care during the upcoming pilgrimage, Saudi Press Agency reported.

The staff will be strategically positioned across 98 ambulance centers, covering entry points, pilgrim routes, and holy sites.

SRCA has dedicated a significant portion of its ambulance fleet to the Hajj mission to strengthen its frontline response.

This includes 320 ambulances,13 advanced response vehicles, a dedicated air wing with seven air ambulances, and two medical evacuation helicopters.It will also provide a support fleet of 15 motorcycles, 150 golf carts, 150 electric scooters, 27 electric bicycles, ten ambulance buses, and additional service vehicles.

Translators will be available to support ambulance calls, ensuring seamless communication for various medical situations encountered during Hajj.

More than 595 volunteers will assist the SRCA with ambulance services at various locations while educating pilgrims about essential preventive measures that should be taken to safeguard their health during Hajj.


Saudi Arabia receives Asian Physics Olympiad flag, prepares to host event’s 2025 edition

Saudi Arabia receives Asian Physics Olympiad flag, prepares to host event’s 2025 edition
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Saudi Arabia receives Asian Physics Olympiad flag, prepares to host event’s 2025 edition

Saudi Arabia receives Asian Physics Olympiad flag, prepares to host event’s 2025 edition
  • Malaysia handed over the symbolic flag after its successful hosting of the 2024 APhO edition last week

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has officially received the Asian Physics Olympiad flag as it prepares to host the 2025 edition of one of the largest scientific events in Asia, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Friday.

The symbolic flag was handed over to the Kingdom by Malaysia, which recently hosted the 2024 APhO edition in Kampar. 

Saudi Arabia’s team of 8 students won five awards in the 2024 competition, which featured 208 students from 27 countries from June 3-10, 2024.

Saudi Arabia won five awards during the 2024 Asian Physics Olympiad held in Kampar, Malaysia. (SPA)

Some 27 countries are participating in the 25th APhO, which will be held in May 2025, organized by the King Abdulaziz and His Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity — also known as the Mawhiba Foundation— and the Ministry of Education, in cooperation with King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, SPA said.

Dr. Amal bint Abdullah Al-Hazza, Secretary-General of the Mawhiba Foundation, was quoted by SPA as saying hosting such international competition “reflects the great importance and international appreciation of the Kingdom’s position in the scientific and educational field.”

It also “confirms the Kingdom’s strength globally, and the extent of its interest in creating a future to achieve the Kingdom’s Vision 2030,” he said.

“This cooperation reflects the Kingdom's commitment to promoting science and knowledge and encouraging students to participate in such international events. 

“This hosting is an affirmation of the efforts made to develop education in the Kingdom, and it also represents an opportunity to enhance communication and cooperation with other countries in the field of science, as the event promises rich educational and interactive opportunities for ambitious students and youth from various parts of Asia, which contributes to enriching their educational experience and encouraging them,” Al-Hazza further said, according to SPA. 

Saudi Arabia is currently preparing to host the International Chemistry Olympiad set for next month, with 90 countries participating.

The international event is also being organized by Mawhibah, together with the Ministry of Education, and King Saud University, with exclusive sponsorship from the Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC).
 


How Saudi Arabia aims to make Hajj 2024 an eco-friendly pilgrimage

How Saudi Arabia aims to make Hajj 2024 an eco-friendly pilgrimage
Updated 21 min 58 sec ago
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How Saudi Arabia aims to make Hajj 2024 an eco-friendly pilgrimage

How Saudi Arabia aims to make Hajj 2024 an eco-friendly pilgrimage
  • Journey causes environmental strain through waste, water and energy consumption, and carbon emissions
  • By adopting sustainable practices, pilgrims can contribute to a greener journey and minimize their impact

JEDDAH: Hajj draws about 2 million people each year. However, this monumental event places a significant strain on the environment through waste, water and energy consumption, and carbon emissions. 

That is why measures have been put in place to encourage pilgrims to minimize their waste, use resources judiciously, and reduce their overall carbon footprint while fulfilling their Hajj obligations.

Various government bodies are collaborating to manage solid waste, promote environmentally conscientious behaviors, and mitigate the adverse effects of litter on the environment.

 

 

In a statement posted on X, the National Waste Management Center said: “With integrated efforts to safeguard the environment of the holiest places on earth, MWAN inspection teams are conducting rounds to ensure safe waste management, facilitating the performance of Hajj rituals with ease and peace of mind.”

Its teams inspected 49 operational facilities in the waste management sector across Makkah and Madinah in May to ensure their compliance with waste management regulations.

Teams from the Saudi National Waste Management Center conduct inspections regularly to ensure safe waste management. (X: @ncwmsa)

MWAN says that it aims to roll out several initiatives to serve pilgrims, optimize natural resource use, and promote public health and environmental sustainability.

The National Center for Environmental Compliance plays a crucial role in gathering data and monitoring air quality before, during and after the Hajj season.

“These figures are sent directly to the central monitoring station, where national experts analyze them and issue daily reports provided to the Hajj Committee,” Saad Al-Matrafi, the center’s spokesperson, told Arab News.

“Quick responses from field committees and appropriate decisions are made upon observing significant deviations to ensure the safety of the pilgrims.”

In the streets of Makkah province, thousands of cleaners are hard at work separating plastic waste from compost as more than two million Muslims wrap up their annual hajj pilgrimage. (AFP)

The center also conducts inspection rounds of sites and facilities to ensure compliance with environmental regulations and standards.

“The first phase of this year’s operational plan has been completed, which includes inspection rounds of sites and facilities in the health, municipal, industrial, agricultural, fuel stations, and roads used by pilgrims,” Mohammed Ammar Ameen, the head of the center’s Hajj Operations Room, told Arab News.

Ameen said that any facility found to be non-compliant during these visits was reported to the relevant authorities to ensure the quality of environmental conditions before the start of Hajj rituals.

Maintaining the sacred ambiance: Sanitizing and perfuming the Grand Mosque ensures lasting memories of cleanliness and pleasant fragrances for all pilgrims. (SPA)

In the second phase, the center will intensify its field visits around Makkah and the holy sites, monitoring water, soil and air samples to ensure their safety.

“This year’s monitoring plan includes monitoring environmental violations and responding to environmental emergencies in the holy site camps,” Ameen said. 

“The center’s team of inspectors and environmental specialists work around the clock to ensure the comfort of guests through continuous environmental monitoring and instant detection of any violations in environmental standards and noise pollution.”

DID YOUKNOW?

• The electric Holy Sites Train produces zero carbon emissions, preserving the environment and pilgrims’ health.

• The National Center for Waste Management is raising awareness about environmentally friendly behaviors.

• The National Center for Environmental Compliance established 20 air quality monitoring stations in Makkah and Madinah.

• The National Center for Wildlife Development works to ensure baboon-free zones at the holy sites.

Clean water for drinking and for carrying out ablutions is provided at dispensing stations around the holy sites and along connecting routes to keep pilgrims and performers of Umrah cool and hydrated.

The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture has initiated 10 projects to enhance water infrastructure, with 2,000 employees dedicated to providing services to pilgrims.

Abdulrahman Al-Fadley, minister of environment, water and agriculture, said that there was an average daily pumping volume of more than 750,000 cubic meters per day to Makkah and the holy sites, rising to more than one million cubic meters per day on the day of Arafa and the days of Eid Al-Adha.

During the Hajj season, 750,000 cubic meters of water are pumped in Makkah every day. (SPA)

Water storage has reached 3.2 million cubic meters. There are also about 4,100 daily laboratory tests carried out to ensure water quality.

Meanwhile, the National Center of Meteorology is monitoring weather conditions in the event of extreme heat events.

Al-Matrafi of the National Center for Environmental Compliance said that he and other departments had devised a set of environmental performance metrics to help encourage improvements.

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“Through strategic analysis of environmental performance and challenges during the Hajj seasons, we aim to pinpoint areas for improvement and innovation,” he said.

“This approach enables us to develop sustainable environmental standards and introduce forward-looking initiatives, including implementing smart cities, adopting alternative energy sources, promoting recycling, and integrating environmentally friendly transportation systems.”

The Grand Mosque in Makkah has a fleet of rides running on electric battery. (Shutterstock)

These include electric trains, a fleet of electric buses, a rollout of brand new e-scooters, and even a pioneering, all-electric, self-driving aerial taxi service — the world’s first to be licensed by a civil aviation authority.

Despite its many environmental challenges, Hajj presents an opportunity for pilgrims to embrace sustainable practices — be that choosing to travel by electric vehicle, to reuse garments rather than buy new clothing, or simply by carrying a reusable bottle.

By adopting these sustainable practices, pilgrims can contribute to a greener Hajj journey and minimize their environmental impact.


 


Owner detained over fatal building collapse in Jeddah

Owner detained over fatal building collapse in Jeddah
Updated 14 June 2024
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Owner detained over fatal building collapse in Jeddah

Owner detained over fatal building collapse in Jeddah
  • Request for a building permit contained false information, says Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority

RIYADH: The owner of a building that collapsed in Jeddah at the end of May, killing seven people and injuring another eight, has been detained, the Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority announced on Thursday.
The authority found that the building owner, Firas Hani Jamal Al-Turki, the deputy minister for shared services at the Ministry of Culture, had tried to apply for a building permit.
The local municipality ordered Al-Turki to stop construction on the building after it was found to have technical defects, but he failed to comply.
Al-Turki’s legal representative, Fahad Hussein Ali Sanba, who works at the same ministry department, communicated with an engineering consultancy office owned by a Saudi citizen, Majed Mohammed Jameel Bushnaq, through a Yemeni intermediary contractor, Mohammed Salim Ahmed Al-Hussaissi, the authority said.
The legal representative sought to obtain a building permit through the office to construct two additional floors and an upper annex. Subsequently, an employee of the engineering office submitted a request for a demolition permit, followed by a request for a building permit containing false information, including doctored photos indicating that the building had been demolished, in exchange for SR50,000 ($13,325).
Al-Turki transferred the money to his legal representative, who then handed it to one of the office employees in cash. The project contractor proceeded with the construction, leading to increased loads and the collapse of the building.
The building owner admitted to paying the financial amount as a bribe in exchange for the illegal issuance of the building permit.
All individuals involved have been detained and legal proceedings are being taken against them, the authority said.


Road-cooling tech will provide Hajj pilgrims with respite from heat

Road-cooling tech will provide Hajj pilgrims with respite from heat
Updated 14 June 2024
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Road-cooling tech will provide Hajj pilgrims with respite from heat

Road-cooling tech will provide Hajj pilgrims with respite from heat
  • The upgrade is part of Kingdom’s ongoing efforts to enhance infrastructure and services for millions of pilgrims

RIYADH: Innovative road-cooling technology is set to make pilgrims’ experience of Hajj safer and more comfortable as temperatures soar to 46 degrees Celsius in the summer heat.

A spokesman for the Roads General Authority, Abdulaziz Al-Otaibi, told Arab News: “When roads are exposed to sunlight, they absorb heat, reaching up to 70 degrees Celsius of temperature retention once the sun sets.”

As a result, he added, the road begins to emit heat — leading to something known as a heat island phenomenon. To counter this, a cooling material that absorbs less solar radiation than traditional substances is being applied to pavements around holy sites.

By implementing road-cooling technology in key areas of Makkah, the Saudi government is creating a more hospitable environment for pilgrims to ensure their journey to the holy city is as smooth as possible. (SPA/Supplied)

“The material we have developed is most effective during sunny weather as it reflects the sun’s rays, which helps lower the temperature of the road by reducing heat absorption,” said Al-Otaibi.

This helps reduce heat build-up, keeping the road cooler and making it more pleasant for pedestrians.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The Roads General Authority is now expanding the road-cooling project to areas in Mina, Arafat, and Muzdalifah.

• The material is also being applied to 25,000 square meters near Namira Mosque in Arafat.

• The innovation is setting a precedent for other countries in ensuring the safety and comfort of religious visitors.

The road-cooling technology is part of Saudi Arabia’s ongoing efforts to enhance infrastructure and services for the millions of pilgrims from around the world who visit Makkah for their spiritual Hajj journey.

By implementing road-cooling technology in key areas of Makkah, the Saudi government is creating a more hospitable environment for pilgrims to ensure their journey to the holy city is as smooth as possible. (SPA/Supplied)

Al-Otaibi added: “Data shows that this cooling material helped decrease the temperature of asphalt surfaces by 12 to 15 degrees Celsius, which is equivalent to a 20 percent reduction compared to roads without this material.”

By implementing the technology in key areas of Makkah, the Saudi government aims to create a more hospitable environment for pilgrims and ensure their journey to the holy city is as smooth as possible.

The material we have developed is most effective during sunny weather as it reflects the sun’s rays, which helps lower the temperature of the road by reducing heat absorption.

Abdulaziz Al-Otaibi, Roads General Authority spokesman

“Last year, we tested the application of this road-cooling material for the first time during the Hajj season in the Jamarat corridors and it was a success,” said Al-Otaibi.

The RGA is now expanding the project to areas in Mina, Arafat, and Muzdalifah. The material is also being applied to 25,000 square meters near Namira Mosque in Arafat.

The innovative substance was developed in partnership with organizations including the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs and Housing, the Pilgrim Experience Program, and the Quality of Life Program. It is made in the Kingdom under the RGA’s research center umbrella.

The road-cooling technology is a testament to Saudi Arabia’s proactive measures to improve the infrastructure and services provided during Hajj, setting a precedent for other countries in ensuring the safety and comfort of religious visitors.

 


Young Saudi volunteers step up to serve pilgrims in Makkah, holy sites

Young Saudi volunteers step up to serve pilgrims in Makkah, holy sites
Updated 14 June 2024
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Young Saudi volunteers step up to serve pilgrims in Makkah, holy sites

Young Saudi volunteers step up to serve pilgrims in Makkah, holy sites
  • Nawaf Khayyat, chairman of the Makkah Guests Association, told Arab News that over 30 associations serve pilgrims

MAKKAH: Each year, large numbers of Saudi youths from all regions of the Kingdom come together to support Hajj pilgrims on their spiritual journey, with a wide range of initiatives ensuring that worshippers are treated as honored guests.

Pilgrims witness the creativity and dedication of the volunteers as they work tirelessly, utilizing their expertise, skills, and talents, alongside the accumulated experience of their supervisors, to deliver high-quality services to worshippers.

As part of Saudi Vision 2030, the Kingdom is encouraging volunteer activity with the goal of reaching 1 million volunteers by 2030.

Volunteering in Makkah involves a wide range of services, including guiding pilgrims to and from the Grand Mosque, distributing water bottles and free meals, and interpretation for non-Arabic speakers. (SPA)

Volunteering in Makkah involves a wide range of services, including guiding pilgrims to and from the Grand Mosque, airport transportation, distributing water bottles and free meals, translation for non-Arabic speakers, and overseeing all pilgrim services.

Nawaf Khayyat, chairman of the Makkah Guests Association, told Arab News that over 30 associations serve pilgrims.

The association, in its fourth year, has the support of Saudi authorities and provides wide-ranging services to pilgrims. It has launched more than 40 initiatives, with the number volunteers on the national platform rising to more than 1,700.

FASTFACT

Year-round programs focus on training tour guides and qualifying female workers to serve pilgrims during Hajj.

Khayyat said that the focus during this year’s Hajj season is on three key programs. The first, “Qiladah,” aims to educate bus drivers transporting pilgrims with the participation of university academics. The second is an enrichment program designed for tour guides, offering various educational initiatives.

The third program involves cultural guides working with domestic pilgrim companies in cooperation with the Coordination Council for Domestic Pilgrims. This program is developed in partnership with Umm Al-Qura University, the Hajj and Umrah Gift Association, and several other entities. It is designed to equip cultural guides with extensive knowledge and skills for interacting with the pilgrims, with over 200 cultural guides in attendance.

Year-round programs also focus on training tour guides and qualifying female workers to serve pilgrims during Hajj.

Ali Al-Youbi, a member of Al-Houda Charitable Association, said that their activities are centered at Al-Juhfah, a designated location for pilgrims entering a sacred state of Ihram. Preparations began at the end of May to welcome worshippers arriving from King Abdulaziz International Airport.

Over 150 buses, carrying pilgrims from Iraq, Syria, and African countries such as Niger and Nigeria, were received by the association. They provided essential services to pilgrims, including water distribution, refreshments such as coffee and tea, as well as flowers, sun-protective umbrellas, and containers to keep water cool.

Al-Youbi said that the association has constructed a photography gate based on a proposal from the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah. The gate serves to commemorate the memories of arriving pilgrims, and features greetings in English, French, Arabic, and Persian.

During the Hajj season, the association focuses on feeding and providing water to pilgrims in Muzdalifah, Arafat, and Mina, in coordination with the Sqaia and Rvada Committee in Makkah. Their goal is to distribute 1 million water bottles and an equal number of meals over the course of six days. Additionally, they offer guidance and assistance to lost pilgrims.

Many professionals, such as doctors, teachers and engineers, join voluntary associations during Hajj to serve pilgrims in Makkah, attending to their needs, treating health issues, and providing the necessary amenities for a comfortable pilgrimage.

Jameela Al-Hathli, a female volunteer, said that voluntary work in Makkah has its own special character. She has been volunteering for three years, caring for pilgrims, providing gifts, attending to their health, educating them about rituals, and working in tourist guidance.

She said that initiatives designed to serve pilgrims provide round-the-clock care, guidance, and support. This includes answering queries, taking worshippers on tours inside and outside Makkah, and directing and helping them overcome obstacles they may face in the holy sites. Volunteer teams also provided courses in first aid and CPR, she added.

By offering this comprehensive assistance, the initiatives aim to enrich the pilgrimage experience, and extend a helping hand throughout the journey.

Al-Hathli said that voluntary work should come from a place of love and not merely for appearance or recognition. Volunteers focus on creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for the pilgrims, ensuring that they feel appreciated and cared for.

To bridge language barriers and showcase authentic Saudi hospitality, the initiatives rely on volunteer translators proficient in various languages. This enables effective communication, and demonstrates the genuine spirit of welcome and hospitality that pilgrims can expect to receive. From the moment they arrive until their departure, pilgrims are accompanied, supported, and treated as honored guests.