Infrastructure of Hajj Now

Crowds in Makkah Mukarrama

More than 2.5 million pilgrims are expected at the Hajj this year. In terms of numbers it is the largest annual gathering on Earth. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia considers it an honour bestowed by Allah to serve the Two Holy Mosques and facilitate Hajj.

When Saudi Arabia became a Kingdom in 1932, the head of the Saudi dynasty King Abdul Aziz Ibn Abdul Raman Al-Saud instigated large-scale changes to The organisation of the Hajj, its facilities and infrastructure. The current Ruler King Fahd, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, has continued this Commitment.

Over 25 years, the Saudi Government has spent more than $14 billion (US) on Various Hajj services and projects, money gifted to the holy city of Makkah Mukarrama And the pilgrims for love of God.

The increase in the number of pilgrims in the modern age has meant Adjustments had to be made to the city of Makkah Mukarrama and its holy shrines to Accommodate the spiralling numbers and maximise the comfort and protection Of the pilgrims.

A special Ministry of the Hajj oversees the annual pilgrimage and the Concerns of its pilgrims more directly. Months of detailed planning and an Army of administrative staff help everything run smoothly. The logistics of 3-4 million pilgrims arriving simultaneously is in itself incredible.

Abdul Aziz Airport

The King Abdul Aziz International airport in Jeddah remains open for only Six weeks of the year and is able to accommodate 80,000 pilgrims at any one Time.

The port of Jeddah receives 70,000 pilgrims by sea while the official Saudia Airline brings in 90% of pilgrims from abroad. In 2002, Saudia Airlines Transported a record 390,000 pilgrims from countless international and Domestic destinations.

More than 60,000 volunteers from the Ministry of Hajj assist pilgrims Throughout the week long event.

There are reception centres for arriving pilgrims and mobile centres for Lost ones. Lost children and frail elderly people are among the casualties Of the huge event.

One of King's many gifts is a cooled water factory which churns out 50 000000 bags of cooled water and ice packs every year to help pilgrims cope with The heat. Distributed from 20,000 water trucks located at strategic points Around the city, the water is received with praise to Allah.

In 1982, King Fahd opened the world's largest abattoir at a cost of $133 Million with enough space for 500,000 sheep and cattle and from where the Sacrificed meat is frozen, preserved and distributed to Muslims everywhere.

The Saudi Government also provides more than 1200 buses to transport Pilgrims between the major locations of the Hajj.

After the tent fire in Mina in 1997, they spent $640 million building 44,000 Air-conditioned and fireproof tents for 1.5 million pilgrims.

The Saudi Government has also spent millions on improving the safety of the Hajj. Attempting to monitor a winding mass of humanity as it maneuvers Itself around the Hajj circuit, each year builds on the safety lessons of The past. Security measures have been stepped up since the stampedes in 1990 ,1994 and 1998.

Police helicopters hover overhead to scan potential crushes, assisted by More than 1000 close-circuit television cameras in surrounding areas. At the Stoning of the Jamarat in Mina, security guards and paramedics stand ready, Ushering pilgrims along a two-tier system devised to cope with 200,000 Pilgrims an hour.

The 1950 Hajj recorded approximately 250, 000 pilgrims. In 2002, numbers rose to over 2 million with 1,354,184 coming from abroad, 45% of whom were women. The majority came from Indonesia, Pakistan and India to be part of the greatest gathering on Earth.