Multilingual 911 helpline to provide vital services during Hajj

27/07/19

With pilgrims making their way to Makkah, many will benefit from the 24-hour health services. (Supplied)
  • The service is quick, efficient and extremely useful for anyone with an emergency at this particularly busy time of year

RIYADH: During the Hajj season, if you have an emergency and do not know who to call, just pick up the phone and dial 911. Whatever your emergency may be, whether you are lost and in need of directions, require help on the road, have a medical emergency, find an animal on the street or even if you have lost items, a team of competent young Saudis are prepared to help.

Speaking various languages, including English, French, German, Indonesian and Urdu, the team is fully prepared to facilitate the needs of those living in the Kingdom.
As the Hajj season is about to begin, with pilgrims making their way to Makkah for the sacred rituals and visits to the holy sites, many will benefit from this service when in need, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Text messages have been sent out to mobile phones with the words: “Dear pilgrims, your service is an honor and your security is our duty. Policemen are ready to fulfill your urgent needs on 911.”
The National Center for Security Operations at the Saudi Interior Ministry launched its 911 call center just 5 years ago in Makkah, and there are now three other centers in Riyadh, Shargiyah and Madinah.
The centers are active on Twitter, updating information on the latest dust storms, highway closings due to car crashes and animal sightings on freeways.
The service is quick, efficient and extremely useful for anyone with an emergency at this particularly busy time of year.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi Islamic affairs minister to launch awareness campaign for Hajj pilgrims

27/07/19

JEDDAH: The Minister of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance Sheikh Dr. Abdullatif Al-Asheikh will launch a Hajj awareness campaign on Sunday called “Hajj is a call and a straight approach,” which will continue until the end of the season.

The campaign aims to consolidate the purposes of Hajj among pilgrims and warn against using it as an opportunity to raise any doctrinal or political slogans, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

It will also promote cooperation with security forces to achieve the safety of pilgrims, and highlight Saudi Arabia’s efforts in the service of the Two Holy Mosques, pilgrims, visitors and Umrah performers.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi Hajj minister receives Russian envoy

Time: July 26, 2019  

Hajj Minister Mohammed Salih Bentin, meeting Russian Ambassador Sergey Kozlov in Jeddah on Thursday. (SPA)

JEDDAH: Saudi Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr. Mohammed Salih Bentin received Sergey Kozlov, the extraordinary and plenipotentiary ambassador of Russia to Saudi Arabia, at his office in Jeddah on Thursday.

During the meeting, they exchanged cordial talks and topics related to Hajj, the Saudi Press agency reported.

For his part, the ambassador praised the efforts and services provided by the Kingdom to the pilgrims.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Indonesia hopes for more airport Hajj clearance next year

25/07/19

Indonesian pilgrims arrive at Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah. (File/SPA)
  • ndonesian pilgrims have benefited from the initiative since it was introduced last year in Soekarno Hatta Airport in Tangerang, Banten province
  • About 40 Saudi immigration officials have been assigned to work in the clearance process during the 30-day Hajj departure period

JAKARTA: Indonesia hopes fast tracking for its Hajj pilgrims, known as the “Makkah Road” initiative, will be expanded to at least two more airports in Java next year, which serve as embarkation points from the country’s most populated island and its neighbors, a government official said Thursday.
Indonesian pilgrims have benefited from the initiative since it was introduced last year in Soekarno Hatta Airport in Tangerang, Banten province, which serves pilgrims from Lampung, West Java and Banten provinces as well as Jakarta.
About 40 Saudi immigration officials have been assigned to work in the clearance process during the 30-day Hajj departure period.
Last year, fast tracking processed 30 percent of Indonesia’s pilgrims.
“Even though it was introduced last year, the service is still only available in Soekarno Hatta Airport. To be able to provide it in other airports would depend on the availability of Saudi immigration officials and whether the other airports have the infrastructure to support it,” Ramadhan Harisman, the secretary of religious affair’s directorate general for Hajj and Umrah services, told Arab News.
He said Indonesia hoped to eventually fast-track Hajj immigration clearance services at all 13 airports that ran routes to Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj.
“Next year we hope to be able to have the fast-track clearance in Surabaya and Solo. The two airports there are also among the busiest, serving a huge number of pilgrims” Harisman said.
“The two airports are ready, we just need to finalize it with Saudi officials,” he added.
The Surabaya Airport will this year serve 38,150 pilgrims from East Java, Bali and East Nusa Tenggara, while Solo airport will serve 34,171 pilgrims from Central Java and Yogyakarta.
If the fast-track clearance is provided in the two airports in addition to Jakarta, the service would be able to process up to 140,000 pilgrims or more than 60 percent out of Indonesia’s pilgrims.
Indonesia is sending the largest number of Hajj pilgrims this year after it received an increase in its Hajj quota to 231,000 pilgrims.
Harisman said the number of pilgrims that have departed as per 25 July is 134,648 and the last departure is scheduled to take place on August 5. At least 17 have died during the pilgrimage, including a man from from Indramayu, West Java, who died on the plane just two hours before it arrived in King Abdul Aziz airport earlier this week.

This article was first published in Arab News

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First group of Tunisian pilgrims arrive via Makkah Route initiative

25/07/19

The first Makkah Route initiative’s Hajj flight from Tunisia arrived at Prince Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz International Airport in Madinah, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.

The pilgrims who benefited from the initiative lauded efforts to facilitate their travel and enable them to perform their duties with ease and comfort.
(Photo courtesy: SPA)

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First group of Tunisian pilgrims arrive via Makkah Route initiative

Time: July 25, 2019  

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The pilgrims who benefited from the initiative lauded efforts to facilitate their travel and enable them to perform their duties with ease and comfort. (SPA)
  • The Makkah Route initiative is expected to serve more than 225,000 pilgrims

MADINAH: The first Makkah Route initiative’s Hajj flight from Tunisia arrived at Prince Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz International Airport in Madinah, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.

The pilgrims who benefited from the initiative lauded efforts to facilitate their travel and enable them to perform their duties with ease and comfort.

Sami Al-Saidi, Tunisia’s consul general to Saudi Arabia, said the Kingdom presents a new service every year to facilitate the journey of pilgrims coming from all over the world.

He thanked the Saudi government for all the services and facilities being provided for pilgrims.

The Makkah Route initiative is expected to serve more than 225,000 pilgrims passing through airports in Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Tunisia.

The service includes issuing visas, ensuring compliance with health requirements, and codifying and sorting luggage at airports in pilgrims’ own countries.

This enables them to bypass procedures on arrival in the Kingdom, and to head directly to buses waiting to transport them to their accommodation in Makkah and Madinah.

Service authorities deliver pilgrims’ luggage to their accommodation in the holy cities.

So far, 479,917 pilgrims have arrived in Madinah since the start of the current Hajj season, according to statistics issued by the National Guides Foundation. The data showed that 279,700 pilgrims left Madinah for Makkah, while 200,192 remained in Madinah.

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Saudi Red Crescent implements program to serve pilgrims

Time: July 24, 2019  

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Saudi Red Crescent Authority teams are on standby round-the-clock in Madinah 24, ready to assist pilgrims. (SPA)
  • Emergency medical teams cover all roads leading to Madinah, follow pilgrim convoys arriving or leaving the city

MADINAH: The Saudi Red Crescent Authority (SRCA) in Madinah is implementing its field operational program to provide emergency and medical services for pilgrims and visitors at the Prophet’s Mosque and other locations frequented during this year’s Hajj season.

Khalid Al-Sahli, the official spokesman of the SRCA in Madinah, said that the authority began to implement its program in early July with about 60 emergency teams working per shift.

All emergency medical centers started covering all roads leading to Madinah, to follow pilgrim convoys arriving or leaving the city, while 12 healthcare teams with advanced equipment support the emergency work in Madinah to tend to all cases and incidents, he said.

He said that 1,000 female and male volunteers started work on Tuesday, within the program to serve pilgrims and visitors in Madinah during this year’s Hajj season.

They will perform their tasks mainly at the Prophet’s Mosque (in both men and women’s sections) and squares around it, and the volunteer teams will support emergency teams (based at the Prophet’s Mosque) during prayers and in peak hours at the Miqat Mosque while pilgrims depart to Makkah.

The authority’s training center continues to organize sessions and lectures about emergency care for members of government and private bodies working to serve pilgrims. Pilgrims are given flyers for emergencies and ways to use the “Asefni” (save me) application, available on all mobile phone systems in nine languages. People can also dial 997 for an ambulance.

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Hajj Ministry, Misk launch program for volunteers to serve pilgrims

Time: July 24, 2019  

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The program encourages the culture of voluntary work and gives individuals greater space to participate in charitable work. (SPA/Photo)
  • It aims to raise the level of volunteer performance in providing a professional service and high-quality practice

RIYADH: The Initiative Center at the Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz Foundation (Misk Foundation) has launched a program to prepare volunteers for the Hajj season in 2019, in cooperation with the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah.

The program, called Misk Al-Mashair, which launched its first workshop in Jeddah, encourages the culture of voluntary work and gives individuals greater space to participate in charitable work.

The program includes workshops in Makkah, Madinah, Riyadh, Jeddah, Taif, Dammam, Alkhobar, Jazan, Al-Jouf, Al-Ahsa, Abha, Tabuk and Qassim, as well as other cities across the Kingdom. The one-day program is attended by volunteers to learn about volunteering in Hajj.

The workshop includes an introduction to dealing with emergencies, problem-solving, communication skills, dealing with pilgrims of different cultures, working together in crowd management, and the ethics and values of voluntary work, all linked to the honor and value of participating during Hajj.

Thousands of registered volunteers and several other official bodies are taking part in the training program through the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, the Ministry of Health, and the Directorate of Civil Defense to unify efforts to support young volunteers, improve the quality of services provided and benefit from the expertise provided by the program.


IN NUMBERS

673,000 – The number of pilgrims who have arrived in the Kingdom since the start of the current Hajj season.

650,000 – pilgrims came by air.

15,000 – pilgrims entered by land.

7,735 – pilgrims arrived by sea.


Through this program, the Initiative Center aims to raise the level of volunteer performance in providing a professional service and high-quality practices that reflect positively on pilgrims and contribute to improving their experience in line with the objectives of Vision 2030 to promote volunteering and increase the contribution of Saudi youth volunteers in the service of their community and their country.

Volunteer work in this initiative is centered on the reception of pilgrims, guidance, translation, medical volunteering, honoring the elderly, helping people with disabilities and volunteering to monitor and document the feelings and attitudes of the pilgrims.

So far, the number of pilgrims who have arrived in the Kingdom since the start of the current Hajj season has reached 673,104, according to statistics issued by Saudi General Directorate of Passports. Most pilgrims — 650,294 — came to the Kingdom by air, while 15,075 entered by land and 7,735 arrived by sea, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

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Hussein Al-Sharif, undersecretary at the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah

Time: July 24, 2019  

Hussein Al-Sharif

Hussein Al-Sharif has been the undersecretary of Hajj affairs at the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah since 2014.

He has sponsored Al-Zamzami Al-Sagheer initiative launched by the suppliers of Zamzam water, Unified Office of Zamzama, which will distribute Zamzam water to pilgrims during Hajj.

Al-Sharif holds a doctorate in public law from the University of Newcastle, UK, which he received in 2000.

He became a lecturer at King Abdul Aziz University (KAU) in 1990 in legal administration. In 2002, he was appointed assistant professor in the faculty of economics and administration and was the undersecretary of the systems department between 2002 and 2003.

Al-Sharif later became the head of the systems department for two consecutive terms until 2007.

While teaching at KAU, he taught administrative law, administrative justice, administrative contracts, principles of law, international private systems and criminal procedures.

He is the founding member of the National Society for Human Rights, and was the general supervisor of their branch in Makkah. He participated in the Second Regional Conference on National Human Rights Institutions in the Arab World  in 2006.

Al-Sharif is also an accredited arbitrator, and participated in the regional conference of the International Criminal Court in Bahrain in 2004 and the regional session for monitoring trials and fair trial standards in the country in 2005.

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Indonesian Hajj pilgrims arrive in Jeddah

Time: July 22, 2019  

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Indonesian Hajj pilgrims arriving in Jeddah. (SPA)

 

JEDDAH: The second phase of Indonesian Hajj pilgrims started landing in Jeddah with the arrival of a 455-strong contingent from Makasar’s Sultan Hasanuddin International Airport in South Sulawesi.
The pilgrims were received by Indonesian Deputy Chief of Mission to Saudi Arabia Dicky Yunus and Indonesian Consul General Mohamad Hery Saripudin at King Abdul Aziz International Airport on Saturday.
A ceremony was organized to welcome the pilgrims landing in Jeddah, where they were served an Indonesian breakfast.
As many as 529 Garuda Indonesia and Saudia flights are transporting the pilgrims, 296 of which are carrying a total of 120,500 passengers to Jeddah during the period July 20 to Aug. 6.
More than 800 Hajj personnel and officers from Indonesia Religious Affairs Ministry and 308 health-care professionals from Health Ministry have been deployed to assist the pilgrims.
About 231,000 Indonesian pilgrims are expected to perform Hajj this year, including the additional quota 10,000 granted by King Salman.
The increasing quota of the Indonesian Hajj pilgrims will hopefully cut the waiting list, which is currently 40 years long.
Meanwhile, Indonesian Minister of Transport Budi Karya Sumadi visited the special lounge of Makkah Route initiative for Indonesian pilgrims at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta.
The minister was briefed on the process and procedures of Makkah Route initiative. He expressed his admiration for the initiative and extended thanks and gratitude to Saudi Arabia for its efforts to serve Islam, Muslims, and pilgrims.

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