Saudi Arabia’s hajj authorities are gearing up to ensure the safe transportation of more than 1.3 million pilgrims expected this year.
Between them, the pilgrims will make about 3.3 million trips to Makkah, Madinah and Jeddah and about 4.6 million trips to other holy sites.
In order for the trips to and from the holy sites to run smoothly, the ministry has readied special buses for the comfort and safety of the pilgrims.
It has also prepared a host of technical, operational and administrative equipment and fully-trained staff to see through the hajj season.
Infographic: Hajj: A spiritual journey
The operational plan was implemented in mid-August. It plan covers Makkah, Madinah, Jeddah and the roads connecting these cities and the holy sites.
According to the plan, Jeddah will receive and transport nearly 800,000 pilgrims from the Hajj Terminal at King Abdul Aziz Airport to their accommodation in Makkah and Madinah.
Saudi security forces on Thursday conducted a successful fire drill on a bus which can carry around 50 pilgrims from Madinah towards holy sites in Makkah.
The fire drill tested the response of the emergency units in the case of a fire, examining how they would intervene to help protect the pilgrims.
The Saudi Minister of Health Abdullah al-Rabeea said on Wednesday that his ministry has devised a thorough plan to ensure the safety of pilgrims during this year’s hajj season.
“We expanded the presence of healthcare workers, a total of 22,000, at all facilities in Mecca, Medina and (other) holy sites in order to follow up on all cases that may (medically) pose a threat to pilgrims,” Rabeea told Al Arabiya.
He also said that the ministry's preparations for this year's hajj season began at the end of last year's season, adding that the aim of early preparations is to detail all previous mistakes and thus avoid them during this year.
“We seek to provide the best healthcare services to pilgrims. We do this through coordinating with the World Health Organization and [other] international health organizations to gather information about all the countries from which pilgrims come,” he said.
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