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Saudi Arabia doing its utmost, making proper arrangements ahead of Hajj

News report by Fawaz Esmairan JEDDAH, June 2 (KUNA) -- With the season of hajj or pilgrimage, the biggest religious gathering in the world, approaching, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is leaving no stone unturned in a bid to make proper security and health preparations and arrangements to serve pilgrims.
All Saudi authorities involved are working in unison as a single group to provide all necessary services and facilities to pilgrims through watertight plans and extensive programs designed to ensure a safe and smooth season.
Holy Capital Secretariat has already put into action blueprints and measures to provide high-quality services to the pilgrims visiting the Grand Mosque, deploying 11,800 personnel and workers.
It revealed that it has equipped 28 municipal service centers at all holy sites where pilgrims should visit while performing one of the main religious obligations in Islam, in addition to emergency teams who are to be on standby around the clock.
Furthermore, the secretariat has deployed central groups to respond to looming emergencies and to monitor markets, shops, and restaurants, along with sanitation and hygiene facilities.
On its part, the Saudi Ministry of Health has put 16 hospitals and 123 health centers as well as five makeshift clinics on high alert in Mecca and other holy sites.
In addition, 155 well-equipped ambulances and 33 medical support teams have been put into action in an effort to ensure the safety, security and comfort of the guests.
Saudi transport authorities, on the other hand, have deployed 3,500 busses to transport pilgrims via nine stations near the holy mosque during the hajj season.
The Saudi Food and Drug Authority has worked out an all-out plan to provide safe and high-quality food and medicine to the kingdom's guests.
The authority also has blueprints in the offing to offer educational and awareness programs and messages in several languages regarding the safety of food and drugs, medical equipment and relevant field studies.
Meanwhile, the Saudi Presidency of Religious Affairs at the Grand Mosque and the Prophet's Mosque has launched a fresh initiative aiming at catering for ill and old people and those with special needs.
Based on its essential security role, Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Interior has recently announced a significant tightening of regulations for the upcoming Hajj pilgrimage. The new measures target both pilgrims lacking proper permits and those who assist them.
It warned that anyone caught transporting unauthorized individuals attempting Hajj faces stiff penalties. Violators can be jailed for up to six months and fined a hefty 50,000 Saudi Riyals (roughly USD 13,333).
The ministry emphasized that being present in designated areas during Hajj without a valid permit is a serious offense, noting that this applies to everyone, regardless of residency status, citizens, residents, and visitors alike.
The penalty for such a transgression is a 10,000 Saudi Riyal (USD 2,667) fine. Furthermore, residents caught flouting the rules face deportation and a subsequent ban on re-entering the Kingdom for a period determined by law, it stressed.
The new regulations will be strictly enforced across Mecca, the surrounding Central Zone, holy sites, the Haramain train station in Rusaifah, security checkpoints, sorting facilities, and temporary security station, it warned.
For his part, Saudi Public Security Director Lit. Gen. Mohammad Al-Bassami said the kingdom's security forces with all divisions are properly ready to ensure the security and safety of the visitors during this year's pilgrimage season.
He underlined that all security organs have made proper preparations and arrangements as well field measures at all holy sites.
However, the security chief vowed that violators, especially those with no proper permits would be arrested and punished in line with recently announced penalties and rules.
Moreover, the Saudi Ministry of Interior has launched the digital identity service for pilgrims arriving from outside the Kingdom on Hajj visas for this season.
The digital identity service is part of the Saudi government's efforts to promote digital transformation and harness technology to serve pilgrims in accordance with the goals of the Saudi Vision 2030.
The Saudi move is primarily aimed at facilitating pilgrims' use of digital identity to augment the quality of services provided to them and enrich their experience in the Kingdom.
In terms of health measures, the Ministry of Health has called on everyone wishing to go to hajj this year to take all necessary vaccines enough time ahead of flying to Mecca only to ensure their safety.
Finally, the National Security Authority has set up a digital cell working around the clock in order to monitor and track cyber threats and risks during the hajj season. (end) fn.mt