$533 mn project to turn Arafat into a smart city

Muhammad al-Qarni, adviser to the Minister of hajj, said it was high time such a project is implemented

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Seven government authorities are awaiting royal approval for about $53 million (SR2 billion) project to transform Arafat into a smart city.

Sources told Okaz/Saudi Gazette that the “Modern Arafat Tent Project” will focus on rebuilding the entire infrastructure of Arafat including huge drain canals, protective barricades, establishment of electricity stations, a separate train and the setting up of large dams on the outskirts of the valleys.

Habib Zain Alabideen, undersecretary for central projects at the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs, said the project will be approved because it is a vital project, which once completed, will change Arafat and drastically improve its infrastructure.

Muhammad Al-Qarni, adviser to the Minister of hajj, said it was high time such a project is implemented.

“The project has become a strategic need. It will include building fire-proof tents all over Arafat, which are important in light of the recent fire that engulfed 120 tents. Also, we all remember the floods that took place in previous seasons and caused damage to tents and posed danger to pilgrims,” Al-Qarni said.

The sources said the new tents will be taller and fire-resistant just like the ones at the Pilgrims’ City, King Abdulziz International Airport, which covers 8 million sq. meters that can accommodate 5 million pilgrims. The new tents will consist of two floors in order to increase their total capacity by up to 71 percent to accommodate 8 million pilgrims.

The government has already implemented projects worth billions of riyals to develop and maintain the Holy Sites.

Prince Mansour Bin Miteb, minister of municipal and rural affairs, said this week that over a billion riyals have been spent for the purpose for this Haj season.

The article was first published in the Saudi Gazette.

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