“We will employ all kinds of modern technology to make Makkah smarter than any other smart city,” Prince Khaled told a press conference in Mina on Tuesday, the penultimate day of Haj 2011.
Prince Khaled congratulated pilgrims on their successful completion of the Haj on behalf of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and Crown Prince Naif, deputy premier and minister of interior. Prince Khaled also congratulated King Abdullah and Crown Prince Naif for devoting all the country’s security and administrative resources to the service of the pilgrims.
After the ritual stoning in Jamarat on Tuesday, most of the pilgrims started their trek back to Makkah. Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki said close to 70 percent of the pilgrims left Mina before sundown Tuesday. The rest will stay overnight in Mina and return to Makkah after a fourth day of stoning, which is optional, on Wednesday. “The second phase of security plans in Madinah starts now, as half of pilgrims will be heading for Madinah soon,” Al-Turki told a press conference in Mina. Spokesman of the Ministry of Haj Faiz Al-Barakati said the pilgrims’ movement to Madinah would officially start on Thursday. “The government is working on the smart city project. The King Abdullah Makkah Construction Project, which will take six years to complete according to my estimation, will provide Makkah with necessary services for the Haj and Umrah.
The project’s infrastructure strategy will have the Grand Mosque as its focal point,” the prince said. An essential part of Haj and Umrah services is the transport facilities, the prince added. “The King Abdullah project envisages the transportation of pilgrims from the airport to the Grand Mosque area and to the holy sites and back. The project includes trains, buses and cars and pedestrian roads, and ring roads.
The project will also be linked to the Madinah-Jeddah-Makkah train service and the Mashair Railway. Roads with reflectors will be built in Islamic and local architectural style. We intend to give Makkah a local Islamic identity and the project coincides with the expansion of the Grand Mosque area,” the prince said.
The Al-Mashair Railway transported more than 403,000 pilgrims until Tuesday evening, according to the Haj Ministry spokesman. Replying to a question about voluntary services in Haj, Prince Khaled said the Makkah Youth Society for Voluntary Service already exists. He added that women volunteers also offered pilgrim services this year. The prince also thanked all citizens, workers, security men, officials and volunteers who strove to make the Haj a success. He said 200,139 field workers served the pilgrims. The prince affirmed that sacrificial meat was meant for the poor and the needy and was not for sale. He said steps were being taken to prevent misuse of sacrificial meat.
“The officials of the Makkah governorate made 2,863 field inspections to ensure excellent services for pilgrims,” the prince said. He added that officials handled 5,261 issues, which were either solved immediately or flagged for follow-up action.