Sacrificial meat utilization program
feeds 30 million in 27 countries
Saudi Arabia’s sacrificial meat utilization program not only aims to protect the environment of Makkah, Mina and its surrounding
villages but also to feed more than 30 million poor people in 27 countries in Asia, Africa and other parts of the Islamic world.
September 6, 2017
MAKKAH – Saudi Arabia’s sacrificial meat utilization program, which was introduced in 1983, not only aims to protect the environment of Makkah, Mina and its surrounding villages but also to feed more than 30 million poor people in 27 countries in Asia, Africa and other parts of the Islamic world.
In the past Hajis used to dry excess sacrificial meat and took it with them when they returned to their home countries. Later they left the sacrificed animals in the streets of Mina and Makkah, causing environmental problems. The number of sacrificed animals during Haj has been rising year after year.
“When this ritual created a big environmental issue, Saudi Arabia launched its sacrificial meat utilization program in 1983,” said Dr. Saeed Al-Amoudi, a researcher interested in modernization of Makkah. The Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank (IDB) was given the charge to implement the program.
The project has witnessed remarkable progress over the past years. In 1420H, about 18 years ago, an automatic abattoir was established in Muaisem for the purpose. It is considered the largest animal slaughterhouse in the world with more than 40,000 employees including butchers, cleaners and administrators.
The program handles more than a million heads of sacrificed sheep and thousands of cows and camels during the Haj season and their meat is shipped to 27 countries in Asia and Africa. A plant to treat the leftovers has been established as part of the project with a daily capacity of 500 tons. This plant transforms animal leftovers into fertilizers.
“This project is first of its kind in the world,” said an IDB official who requested anonymity. “This represents a good example for transforming a big problem into a successful venture,” he added. He underscored the Saudi government’s continuous support for the sacrificial meat utilization program since its inception.
“The act of sacrifice means doing something for someone else,” said an Islamic scholar while highlighting the significance of the sacrificial meat utilization program, which has benefited millions of the world’s poor and needy in the past years.
Pilgrims can perform the sacrifice on any of three days of Eid Al-Adha. But most choose the first day, when they are in Mina just after they have thrown 49 pebbles at the Jamarat pillars, symbolizing the stoning of the devil.
“During the times of sacrifice, the crush of pilgrims near the premises of the slaughterhouses creates conditions approaching chaos,” wrote the US geographer Clarke Brooke in 1987 in a study of the Haj sacrifice. “Everywhere around the slaughterhouses are pilgrims, traders, live animals, and the carcasses of animals.”
Nor could pilgrims’ appetites match the quantity of meat slaughtered. Bulldozers pushed remains of animals into ditches; other carcasses were burnt, Brooke wrote.
“For years, hundreds of thousands of sheep were slaughtered, and after families took what they could use, the rest was simply buried because of the lack of processing facilities for sheep sacrificed one day of the year”, the retired US State Department official David E Long said stressing the Saudi project’s significance.