Creating new perspectives since 2009

Saudi Arabia prepares for exceptional Hajj season with over 2m pilgrims expected: Report

June 14, 2024 at 7:30 pm

Cleaners at the Masjid al-Haram perform their duties with great care in Mecca, Saudi Arabia on June 13, 2024 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]

Saudi Arabia has announced extensive preparations for an unprecedented Hajj season this year, with expectations that the number of pilgrims will exceed 2 million, Anadolu Agency reports.

The Hajj season, beginning on Friday, will see significant initiatives and arrangements to ensure a successful and comfortable experience for all pilgrims.

Royal patronage and early readiness

During a Cabinet session on 4 June, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz confirmed that all preparations and arrangements for Hajj 2024 are complete.

The Kingdom has deployed all necessary efforts and resources to enhance the comfort and safety of the pilgrims, according to the state-run media.

This year’s Hajj season is notable for the implementation of an “early readiness plan”, initiated right after the conclusion of the previous Hajj season.

READ: Saudi Arabia conducts first air taxi trial for transporting Hajj pilgrims

Warm welcome and efficient transport

Saudi Arabia has warmly welcomed pilgrims, facilitating a smooth completion of procedures and transport.

The first flight carrying 283 pilgrims from India was received by senior officials on 9 May.

By Tuesday, the Saudi General Directorate of Passports reported the arrival of 1,547,295 pilgrims through air, land and sea ports, with expectations of this number increasing, the Kingdom’s official news agency, SPA, said.

Extensive plans and initiatives

Minister of Hajj and Umrah, Tawfiq Al-Rabiah highlighted several key plans and initiatives, as reported by SPA.

Training of over 120,000 workers and group leaders, more than 2,500 training workshops in various languages to assist over 10,000 volunteers, and upgrading of facilities at holy sites with sunshades, misting fans, and improved escalator efficiency are among the initiatives.

The Minister also said 11 buildings have been introduced to accommodate 37,000 pilgrims, and that they have improved the area surrounding the Sacred Monument or “the Hajj station of Muzdalifah” for easier movement.

Preparing the world’s largest cooling station for the Grand Mosque (Masjid Al-Haram) and operating the Mashair Train, transporting over 350,000 pilgrims between holy sites, were the other preparations by the Kingdom.

Defence Ministry preparations

The Defence Ministry has deployed 1,666 medical staff, set up 23 health units, 10 hospitals, nine primary clinics, four emergency centres and 30 rapid response teams.

The Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques aims to translate the Arafat sermon into 20 languages, reaching a billion listeners.

They also prepared 5,138 workers and 4,000 machines for daily cleaning and sanitising of the Grand Mosque, and installed 883 air conditioning units, 4,079 ventilation fans and 244 misting fans.

Public Security Director-General, Mohammed Bin Abdullah Al-Bassami, assured full readiness for the Hajj season, with firm action against any disruptions.

Key initiatives

Mecca Route: Facilitates direct travel from pilgrims’ countries to their accommodations, benefiting over 250,000 pilgrims from seven countries through 11 airports.

Pedestrian Pathway Support: Uses flexible rubber asphalt from recycled tire waste to improve pilgrims’ health and quality of life, the Ministry of Transport said.

Model Camp: Focuses on sustainable solid waste management, converting food waste into soil enhancers without emissions or odours, the National Centre for Waste Management revealed.

Best Means: Promotes tolerance, co-existence and moderation during Hajj.

With these comprehensive preparations, Saudi Arabia said it aims to ensure a safe, smooth and spiritually enriching Hajj experience for all pilgrims.

READ: Saudi Arabia to host 1,000 pilgrims from families of Gaza martyrs and wounded