Saudi Hajj season made easier, safer than ever
Ask any pilgrim about his experience performing the Hajj and he or she will tell you that the journey comes with many physical struggles, and often takes a heavy toll on the human body.
This year Saudi has made it so that these exertions are moderated and made less cumbersome, combining technology, equipment with human resource personnel towards easing the journey to Mecca or Medina.
Mecca Road initiative
The first flight carrying Hajj pilgrims from Indonesia arrived in Madinah on Tuesday as part of the kingdom’s Makkah Road initiative.
Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Hajj and Umrah Mohammed Saleh bin Taher commented on the Mecca Road initiative being implemented for the second year in a row that aims to make a pilgrim’s journey to Mecca or Medina easier.
Arab News reports Taher as indicating that this will begin with ending the entry visas into Saudi from a pilgrim’s own country at the airport, where the originating flight takes off from, in collaboration with various related Saudi government agencies to facilitate pilgrimage arrangements and requirements.
“The initiative also seeks to continuously pursue the facilitation of all aspects of pilgrimage and provide maximum comfort for pilgrims,” the minister added.
Local reports say Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, chief of the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques, is assuring the presidency was keen to prepare early for the season this year.
Al-Sudais said that the presidential plan seeks to achieve a number of goals, including helping pilgrims perform their rituals with ease and tranquillity and preparing all facilities.
He said that the number of people circulating Kaaba in all the floors of the Grand Mosque has reached 107,000 an hour.
He highlighted the availability of important services, including seminars by a number of high-ranking scholars and teachers.
A total of 210 doors in the Grand Mosque and 100 doors in the Prophet’s Mosques have been prepared as well as 28 escalators in the Grand Mosque and four escalators in Prophet’s Mosque in Medina.
There are 38 doors for people with special needs and seven for women.
Air conditioning has been installed in the basement and ground floor and thousands of fans have been installed in the Two Holy Mosques and their yards.
The area around the Two Holy Mosques has been equipped with more than 8,441 toilets, as well as more than 6,000 ablution units.
Some 9,000 electric carts and wheelchairs for pilgrims are provided free of charge in the Grand Mosque for the use by old, sick and disabled pilgrims to do their rituals in ease and comfort.
More than 300 Saudi youths have been hired to push the wheelchairs, said Director of the department of transport services Saleh Mohammed Ali Hawsawi.
The department of transport services of the Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy has as many as 209 regular and seasonal workers who work in shifts around the clock.
Arab News stated that The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques in 2016 mobilized more than 15,000 regular and seasonal workers, besides the workers assigned to cleaning, operation, and maintenance tasks.
Jobs during Hajj
Riyadh’s Ministry of Labor and Social Development has launched an electronic service to provide temporary work during this Hajj season via the Ajeer portal, which is for companies offering Hajj services and those who wish to work during the Hajj season, as well as documenting the contractual relationship between them, reports Arab News.
The move by the ministry is to provide an electronic market that shows the supply and demand for jobs during the Hajj season as the portal brings together owners of companies and individuals seeking temporary jobs.
The job seekers include both citizens and expatriates residing legally in Saudi.
The following video shows how pilgrims will register through an app from the Ministry, and will then receive a package including a contactless card, earphone, and wristband before they travel.