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By MAKKAH: ARAB NEWS
Published: Mar 22, 2012 02:14 Updated: Mar 22, 2012 02:14
Haj Minister Bandar Al-Hajjar said ongoing efforts to work out a 25-year strategic plan for Haj and Umrah operations reflect the top priority given by the Saudi government to extend the best possible services to the millions of pilgrims who come to the Kingdom every year to perform the various pilgrimages.
“A committee has already been constituted to prepare the strategic plan following a recommendation by the Shoura Council. The ministry recently convened the first meeting of the committee that discussed various aspects of the strategy,” he said.
Al-Hajjar, who is also chairman of the committee, made the remarks in an article that appeared in the new edition of the Haj & Umrah monthly magazine published by the ministry.
Representatives of the ministries of interior, transport, health, and municipal and rural affairs, as well as officials from the Authority for Makkah and Holy Sites Development, Authority for the Development of Madinah, and the Haj and Umrah Research Institute at Umm Al-Qura University are members of the committee.
According to Al-Hajjar, the strategic plan involves the integrated and coordinated work of all departments and agencies concerned with the Haj operation.
“The plan would contain specific visions and programs to extend the best possible services for the anticipated number of Haj and Umrah pilgrims who come to the Kingdom from all over the world within the next 25 years. It would cover all aspects regarding Haj and Umrah operations during the stipulated period,” he said.
The minister stressed the need for exerting great efforts to realize the aspirations of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah to further improve the services extended to Haj and Umrah pilgrims as well as visitors to the holy cities to enable them to perform the rituals in ease and comfort.
Al-Hajjar lauded King Abdullah and other Saudi leaders for implementing a number of mega projects in Makkah, Madinah and the holy sites.
By RIYADH: RODOLFO ESTIMO JR.
Published: Mar 22, 2012 02:14 Updated: Mar 22, 2012 02:14
Various parts of the Kingdom continued to experience sandstorms for the third day in a row yesterday, with rising dust causing zero visibility in some areas and less than 1 km in other areas, accompanied by below-zero temperatures.
In a weather forecast issued earlier in the day, the Presidency of Meteorology and Environment (PME) said the sky would be cloudy in parts of the southwest and western areas of the Kingdom, with some rain in Makkah, Taif, Madinah and Qassim.
It also predicted that visibility will be less than 3 km in the north, east, central and southern parts of the Kingdom as well as in areas located between Makkah and Madinah.
It predicted, however, that visibility will improve today in Makkah, Madinah and in southwestern parts of the Kingdom, with a possible increase in humidity in the coastal areas by the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf.
In Riyadh the skies were cloudy the whole day yesterday, with a drizzle occurring at about 5.30 p.m.
“The sandstorm caused a lot of problems, especially to health. As soon as you got out of the house, you had to hurry to your car to avoid sniffing dust,” said Cenon “Nonie” C. Sagadal, a marketing representative.
He noted that because of the dust many local activities were postponed, adding many schools had closed. However, some that had not closed held classes for only a half day on Monday and Tuesday.
Dusty weather also hit the Asir province for the last two days, causing the King Khaled and Prince Sultan universities to close.
“The weather was bad on Monday but worse on Tuesday, with zero visibility,” said Andy Relox, a statistician at King Khaled University.
Dusty weather also persisted for the last three days in the Qassim area. “The sandstorm is not that strong anymore and visibility has improved but last night it was strong. It rained as well,” said Buraidah-based Christopher Agustin, an analyst at a pharmaceutical company.
22 March 2012
MAKKAH — Hundreds of engineers and laborers are working round-the-clock to install new heat-resistant marble tiles in the courtyards of the Grand Mosque to provide pilgrims and visitors with the ultimate in comfort. All marble tiles of the outside courtyards will be replaced with new Greek Thassos marble tiles that resist heat. These marble tiles are similar to the ones installed in Al-Mataf area inside the Grand Mosque.
The installation of new marble tiles is being done meticulously so as not to disrupt the movement of pilgrims entering or exiting the Grand Mosque.
The new marble floor tiles maintain the same temperature day and night, allowing visitors to walk barefoot in the afternoons without feeling any heat.
Thassos marble absorbs humidity in the night and maintains its cool temperature even in hot weather.
Engineers are also working on relocating the area from where the muezzin calls for prayers. It will now be near the Al-Safa Gate. The new area is provided with modern equipment and air-conditioners.
Sources said that the new muezzin area will continue to be near Al-Safa Gate until after next Haj when the project of expanding Al-Tawaf area has been completed.
22 March 2012
MAKKAH — A six-story parking lot will be built in Ghaza District near the Grand Mosque to help solve the parking problem in Makkah, said Col. Misha’l Musaad Al-Maghrabi, Director of Makkah Traffic Department.
In a wide-ranging interview published in a section of the Arabic press on Tuesday, Al-Maghrabi also outlined other developments taking place to tackle traffic problems in the city. He said that traffic courts, once established, will reduce the time taken to process cases.
Regarding train stations, he said three stations in Ghaza, Jabl Al-Ka’ba and Kudai districts will be built to facilitate transport for Haj and Umrah pilgrims and visitors.
About Saher, he said the latest statistics show a 21 percent decrease in injuries caused by traffic accidents and a five percent drop in deaths. “There are currently 20 mobile Saher cameras, six stationary ones and five additional cameras all over Makkah.”
Regarding speed limits, he said these are decided by the Traffic Department, Ministry of Transport and Makkah Mayoralty. “We have recently increased the speed limit of the Circular Road and Al-Sharayeh Road to 100 km/hour. For other roads, there is no plan to increase the speed limit.”
Regarding insurance companies, he said some companies have tried to wriggle out of their financial obligations. The role of the Traffic Department is to ensure citizens have insurance when they register their vehicles or have their driving licenses renewed. Financial issues are the responsibility of the committee of financial disputes and the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency, Al-Maghrabi explained. “Our role ends when we issue a report about the accident.”
In response to a question about whether his department has plans to remove traffic signs and build roundabouts in Makkah, he said roundabouts do not work in Makkah because drivers do not yield to traffic flow inside the roundabout. This, unfortunately, causes congestion. Many mayoralties have started reducing the number of roundabouts in their cities because of this problem, he said.
This cannot be undone and I am sure it will be greatly appreciated.