Tuesday, December 18, 2007

All Roads Lead to Mina

Monday, 17 December 2007
By Abdullah Al-Hariri and Adel Al-Malki
Mina - The valley of Mina reverberated with "Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik," as pilgrims started pouring into the tent city, Sunday.
Large numbers of pilgrims were seen walking down to Mina from Makkah as King Abdul Aziz Road which connects it to the Haram was jam-packed with buses. Only a few cars packed with pilgrims could reach the entrance of Mina. Those who reached the tent city on Sunday will spend two nights in Mina before moving to Arafat Tuesday for the culmination of the Haj.
Passports Department has put up three checkpoints on the Jeddah-Makkah highway to check the identity of pilgrims and ensure that local pilgrims hold the required Haj permission.
The weather in Makkah and holy sites was partly cloudy with maximum temperatures of 30 degrees Centigrade and minimum 22 degrees Centigrade. Humidity was 49 percent.
All government agencies, including civil defense and Haj Security forces, were seen checking out their preparations. Civil defense personnel also reviewed their Al-Jamarat Bridge plans.
The presence of huge security forces in the holy sites ensures that all arrangements have been completed to receive pilgrims in order to make their stay safe and comfortable. Saudi authorities have deployed more than 50,000 security personnel to ensure safety.
Major General Fahd Al-Bishr, Assistant Commander of the Haj Security Forces for Traffic Affairs, said 14,000 traffic policemen and 400 officers supported by 400 machinery participated in managing the flow of pilgrim traffic to Mina, Sunday.
Major General Saad Al-Khilewi, Assistant Commander for Haj Security for Administration and Organization of Pedestrians, said 10,000 security men have been distributed in Mina to organize the movement of pedestrians Monday as well as for the Jamarat stoning days to prevent squatting and unclog the congestion during the movement of pilgrims.
Khaled Marghalani, spokesman of the health ministry, said all health centers and hospitals in Makkah, Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifa are ready to provide any required health service. The ministry of health will deploy 9,000 doctors and nurses around the Haj areas this season. The motto of the Ministry for Haj 2007 is "pilgrims' health."
A total of 11,000 doctors, nurses and paramedics will be on hand to provide medical care, with 4,200 beds at 21 hospitals and 145 health centers in Makkah, Mina and Arafat.About 11,400 blood donation groups will be on standby and an additional fleet of 95 ambulances and 30 cars will be available for pilgrims, he said.
More than 1.6 million pilgrims had arrived in the Kingdom till Friday, the Saudi Press Agency announced in its daily update.
Of these, 3,3716 pilgrims arrived via the King Abdul Aziz International Airport, 2,257 via Prince Mohammed Bin Abdul Aziz International Airport, 3,777 via Halat-Ammar entry point, 947 via Al-Batha entry point and 1,732 via other entry points.

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