Saudi Arabia’s minister of transport H.E. Dr. Nabeel Al-Amudi assured the readiness of all transportation services in the holy cities of Makkah and Al Madinah for the Hajj season this year (9-14 August), after an inspection tour with the presidents and the senior executives of the Saudi transport sector entities. During the tour, they participated with the welcoming committee in receiving the first pilgrims coming to Makkah via Al-Haramain high-speed train.
All government and private sectors were directed by King Salman bin Abdulaziz and HRH Crown Prince Mohamad bin Salman to follow up all their integrated preparation plans to serve the pilgrims. For that, the land transport network underwent inclusive inspection and maintenance procedures. Al-Haramain high-speed railway (450 km) and Al-Mashaaer Al-Mugaddassah Metro (20 km) along with 5,259 km of roads and 926 bridges were checked and cleared for traffic safety measurements.
In this context, by connecting 71,500 km of roads, Saudi Arabia ranked second in Road connectivity index according to The Global Competitiveness Report 2018.
It is worth mentioning that Al-Haramain high-speed train that connects the two holy cities with Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz International Airport is expected to serve 158,000 pilgrims in 64 trips, weekly. While Al-Mashaaer Al-Mugaddassah Metro (MMM) is expected to serve 360,000 pilgrims through Mount Arafat, Muzdalifah and Mina in over 2,000 trips weekly.
The hajj is one of the largest and most diverse gatherings in the world, drawing more than 1.8 million people from around the world this year, according to Saudi officials. Some 20,000 were US citizens and residents, while a further 200,000 pilgrims were from Saudi.
Last year, 2.4 million people took part in the hajj, with similar numbers expected for 2019. The five-day Hajj pilgrimage is required of all Muslims once in their lifetime, if they are financially and physically able to make the demanding journey.
Due to the Islamic calendar being based on a lunar cycle, the time of year when it takes place varies, with temperatures soaring to more than 38C during the hot summer months. This year, unusually, worshipers not only had to contend with fierce sunshine but also had to endure strong winds and outbreaks of heavy rain.