Holy cities fully prepared for Ramadan rush
The holy cities of Makkah and Madinah are fully geared with unprecedented arrangements to welcome millions of worshipers during the fasting month of Ramadan, tentatively set to start Monday. The Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, governorates, mayoralties, Grand Mosque Security Forces Command, police, traffic, Civil Defense, and all other departments and agencies have swung into operation to offer the best ever services and facilities to the pilgrims and visitors to the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah during Ramadan, which marks the peak annual Umrah season.
Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Naif, deputy premier and minister of interior, has approved a contingency plan prepared by the Civil Defense to deal with any emergency in Makkah and Madinah during Ramadan. Lt. Gen. Sulaiman Bin Abdullah Al-Amr, director general of the Civil Defense, said the crown prince has made it clear that the safety of pilgrims is paramount, and as such preventive measures shall be taken to ward off any threats to the safety of pilgrims, visitors and others in the holy cities.
Sheikh Abdurahman Al-Sudais, head of the presidency, said that all preparations and arrangements are well in place in line with the well-thought out plans and sagacious vision of the rulers to offer the best possible services and facilities to the faithful. “Under the guidance of the rulers, the presidency, in coordination with all the concerned government departments and security agencies, has mobilized all its personnel and resources to cope with the huge influx of the faithful at the Two Holy Mosques. Our nation shoulders the great responsibility of serving those visiting the Two Holy Mosques through enabling them to perform their rituals in ease and comfort, besides making available an unparalleled spiritual ambience for them in the holy month,” he said.
Al-Sudais on Friday discussed with Maj. Gen. Muhammad Al-Ahmadi, commander of the Grand Mosque Special Forces, the security plan and arrangements to ensure safety and security of the pilgrims.
Sheikh Muhammad Al-Khuzaim, deputy head of the presidency, said elaborate arrangements have been made to facilitate a smooth flow of hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who are expected to flock to the holy cities from all over the world during the holy month. Ramadan this year coincides with the annual summer vacation in many parts of the Arab and Muslim world. Al-Khuzaim expects a record number of Umrah pilgrims during the holy month in the wake of the completion of the mataf (circumambulation area around the Holy Kaaba), whose total capacity has risen to 107,000 pilgrims per hour.
The presidency and the security agencies have finalized all arrangements for crowd management amid the anticipated huge influx of the Umrah pilgrims. Amjad Al-Hazmi, acting director of projects management at the presidency, said the newly built main gate named after King Abdulaziz will be opened temporarily during the holy month. “The ongoing construction works in the inner area leading to the gate will be halted with the start of Ramadan so as to ease the flow of pilgrims and worshipers,” he said. The department for managing Haram gates has deployed more than 600 male and female staff to monitor the 210 gates of the Grand Mosque. Of these, 20 gates have been specifically set aside for the disabled.
Cleaning and furnishing department has mobilized more than 300 staffers and 1,900 cleaning workers during the holy month. A total of 24,500 prayer rugs have been spread out at the Haram. The plazas around the Grand Mosque have been divided into six zones to properly manage the flow of worshipers.
Tariq Al-Malki, director of the department of plazas at the presidency, said six zones will be manned by about 200 permanent and part-time supervisors.
One million copies of the Holy Qur’an, in addition to Islamic books in different languages will be made available at the Haram during Ramadan. Islamic lectures will be delivered by renowned scholars, including Sheikh Saleh Bin Abdullah Bin Humaid, imam and khateeb of the Grand Mosque, and former chairman of the Shoura Council.
The presidency’s agency for the Prophet’s Mosque has mobilized around 5,000 male and female staff to implement its Ramadan plan in Madinah. “The agency has made available16,000 prayer rugs in and outside the mosque, and 300 ton of Zamzam water daily in 15,000 dispensers spread over the entire mosque.
The worshipers can take advantage of 250 huge umbrellas and 436 water sprinklers to cope with the summer heat,” according to an official.
Arrangements have been put in place to provide 100,000 iftar meals on a daily basis inside the mosque and its courtyards. The agency has mobilized 1,520 cleaning workers, including 200 women. The Madinah Mayoralty has deployed 20,000 employees to inspect hygienic condition of 8,449 shops round-the-clock as part of preparations for Ramadan.