ISSN 2330-717X

Pilgrims Arrive In Saudi Arabia For Journey Of A Lifetime

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Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, adviser to King Salman, governor of Makkah and chairman of Makkah Region Development Authority, has adopted the authority’s operational plan for Hajj 2018.

The plan aims to increase efficiency of projects overseen by the authority at the holy sites, especially the railway of the holy cities, the Jamarat facility, maintaining and operating toilets at the holy sites, monitoring the efficiency of Hajj services, and establishing a database for Hajj services.

Jalal bin Abdul Jalil Kaaki, spokesman for the Makkah Region Development Authority, said that the plan was developed under the supervision of Prince Khaled Al-Faisal and followed up by Makkah’s deputy governor. It is in line with the new projects implemented by the authority at the holy sites this year, as well as existing projects. The authority will oversee operation of these projects to ensure pilgrims receive the best services.

Kaaki said the plan relies on constant and continuous coordination with all relevant authorities, especially those in the security sectors. The secretary-general of the authority, Hisham Al-Falih, is ensuring all relevant authorities work together to ensure the plan’s success.

He said the authority has deployed all its administrative and technical cadres, adding up to more than 14,000 employees along with more than 400 mechanisms to implement the operational plan.

The authority set specified mechanisms to be implemented in the field, and made sure all projects are fully ready to serve pilgrims.

Kaaki added that this year’s operational plan includes supervising all projects for pilgrims at the holy sites, including the train that is expected to transport more than 350,000 pilgrims from Mina to Arafat and back. The train is set to transport a total of 2 million pilgrims during the Tashreeq days.

He said the plan for the Al-Jamarat facility focuses on its readiness to receive pilgrims to perform the ritual of “Ramy Al-Jamarat,” which means stoning the devil, as well as maintenance and operations-related projects. The plan also focuses on completing the necessary requirements to provide 36,000 toilets for use during Hajj.

Pilgrims in Madinah

In Madinah, pilgrims are being provided with all they need for their convenience and care, under the direct supervision of Prince Faisal bin Salman, governor of Madinah, and Prince Saud bin Khalid Al-Faisal, deputy governor of the region.

Many pilgrims take the chance to tour mosques and archaeological sites related to the Prophet’s life and traditions, spending some nights in Madinah so that they can pray in the Prophet’s Mosque before leaving for Makkah and starting their Hajj pilgrimage.

Madinah is home to many mosques visited by pilgrims, including Quba, the first mosque founded by the Prophet (peace be upon him) upon his arrival in Madinah from Makkah. The Prophet (PBUH) started building the mosque, which was later completed by his companions. The Prophet would visit the mosque, mostly on Saturdays, advising others to do the same and saying: “Whoever makes ablutions at home and then goes and prays in the Mosque of Quba, he will have a reward ‘Umrah.”

Pilgrims also visit Al-Jumaa Mosque near Quba to pray. This mosque has a special place in Islamic heritage, because the Prophet prayed here in the valley of Ranuna, on the first Friday after he arrived in the village of Quba on his way to Madinah.

Madinah is home to many historical sites visited by pilgrims and visitors during the pre-Hajj season, including Mount Uhud, the famous site associated with many of the Prophet’s hadiths. Uhud is also connected to the historic Battle of Uhud in the third Hijri year.

Among Madinah’s landmarks is Masjid Al-Qiblatain, or the Mosque of the Two Qiblas. This site is historically important to Muslims because it is where the Qur’anic revelation for Prophet Muhammad to change to the direction of the qibla took place. This occurred on the 15th of Shaban, when the Prophet was commanded by a Qur’anic revelation to face the Kaaba. The qibla, or the direction to which Muslims face during prayer, was then changed forever, from Bait Al-Maqdis in Jerusalem to the Holy Kaaba in Makkah.

Bir Othman bin Affan (Othman bin Affan well) is a popular site with pilgrims. It is also known as “Rumah well,” and was used for commerce 1,400 years ago. The well’s water is still useful and beneficial for all today.

The Ghamama Mosque, one of the most important historical and Islamic landmarks in Madinah, is to the southwest of the Prophet’s Mosque. The Prophet performed the rain prayer in it. A cloud shaded the Prophet from the sun when he was performing the rain prayer, so the mosque became known as “Al-Ghamama” (cloud).

Pilgrims’ safety

Security forces at the Prophet’s Mosque provide humanitarian services to the pilgrims and maintain security. They also control crowds to ensure the smooth and easy entry and exit of pilgrims around the clock through the gates and in the surrounding squares.

Brig. Abdul Rahman Al-Mishhan, commander of the special forces of the Prophet’s Mosque, told the Saudi Press Agency that the security forces began to implement their security plan well ahead of the 2018 Hajj season.

“This plan comprises several elements, starting with the security aspect which represents the main task of ensuring the safety, comfort and tranquility of visitors to the Prophet’s Mosque, monitoring the entrances of the Prophet’s Mosque, and watching all what is happening through closed-circuit TV cameras and deploying security personnel around the clock in the crowded places, as well as monitoring and circumventing all negative phenomena,” he said.

Al-Mishhan added that security forces at the Prophet’s Mosque help control the crowds by keeping passages free so worshippers are able to move either through the external passages or inside the Prophet’s Mosque.

He stressed that the security forces also carry out several humanitarian tasks such as taking care of lost children and reuniting them with their parents, and helping the elderly and people with special needs by guiding them and providing them with assistance and advice.

“The personnel also offer emergency services to those who need it in coordination with the Saudi Red Crescent Authority,” noted Al-Mishhan.

Pakistani arrangements

Pakistan’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Khan Hasham bin Saddique, visited Makkah to inspect the Hajj arrangements for Pakistani pilgrims. He was accompanied by Consul General Shehryar Akbar Khan and Director-General Hajj Sajid Yousafani.

Director of Hajj Imtiaz Shah briefed the ambassador about the arrangements. So far, 76,000 Pakistani pilgrims have arrived in Saudi Arabia, including 51,000 under the Government Hajj Scheme and 25,000 under private Hajj.

An effective complaint-handling system has been put in place to provide immediate relief to pilgrims. The ambassador also visited the Hajj Mission hospital for Pakistani pilgrims. So far the hospital has treated about 11,000 pilgrims for various ailments and has distributed more than 100 wheelchairs. The patients expressed satisfaction with the treatment and facilities in the hospital and the efforts of the medical staff.

Later in the day, the ambassador visited some of the accommodation offered by the Pakistani Hajj Mission in Makkah. The residents expressed satisfaction over standards of accommodation and food.

The ambassador praised the efforts of the Hajj Mission for its excellent arrangements and emphasized the need to maintain standards.

Yemeni pilgrims

The first batch of Yemeni pilgrims reached Al-Wadiah Border Crossing in Najran Region yesterday evening en route to perform their Hajj rituals.

All departments at Wadiah Border Crossing have done their best to provide services and ease the crossing of Yemeni pilgrims, receiving them in accordance with the directives of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The Yemeni pilgrims spoke of how happy they were with facilities and services being provided so that they were able to perform Hajj rituals in comfort and tranquility. They praised the great services being provided by Saudi Arabia for Muslims all over the world.

Scout camp

The activities of the Scout Camp were launched to serve pilgrims in Madinah during this year’s Hajj season. It is overseen by the Saudi Scouts Association, with the participation of 500 chief scouts and scout members.

The director of education in Madinah, Nasser bin Abdullah Al-Abdulkarim, who is supervising the scout camp to serve the pilgrims in the region, said that the launch was preceded by an early preparation of the public service camp headquarters in Madinah and the scheduling of preparation programs and training courses for participants in the camp, whether chiefs or scout members.

He stressed that all the participants in the scout camp would serve the pilgrims in the best way, providing the best voluntary services to them, indicating that the scout camp serving the pilgrims in Madinah is working under the umbrella of Hajj committee, headed by Prince Faisal bin Salman, governor of Madinah.

Abdulkarim added that with the follow-up of the minister of education and chairman of the Saudi Scout Association, Dr. Ahmed bin Mohammed Al-Issa, the scouts will provide their voluntary services along with a number of other groups to serve the pilgrims in Madinah. He stressed the spirit of voluntary work and patriotism in the scout camp.

The commander of the scout camp, Dr. Mohammed bin Sabeel Al-Juhani, confirmed that it was ready to be the starting point for the great services provided for pilgrims.

He added that the services provided are in line with the support of the Ministries of hajj and umrah, islamic affairs, da’wah, guidance, health and commerce.

The scouts start by collecting information and data about the surroundings of the mosque. One of the many voluntary services they provide is to guide lost pilgrims to the guidance centers of the Ministry of Hajj.

He added that scouts are also deployed to provide assistance to elderly pilgrims and transport them in golf carts. They will also help the Ministry of Health in a number of hospitals and health centers surrounding the Prophet’s Mosque, supporting a number of voluntary humanitarian services for pilgrims.


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Arab News

Arab News

Arab News is Saudi Arabia's first English-language newspaper. It was founded in 1975 by Hisham and Mohammed Ali Hafiz. Today, it is one of 29 publications produced by Saudi Research & Publishing Company (SRPC), a subsidiary of Saudi Research & Marketing Group (SRMG).

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