Hajj 2018:Saudi Arabia launches media plan, Assistance modules for African pilgrims

Hajia Sani, Madinah- Saudi Arabia

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Authorities in Saudi Arabia have formally announced a new online portal to facilitate media coverage of the 2018 Hajj pilgrimage.

The portal will be the official source of announcements, information and news about this year’s Hajj, including all associated activities, events and initiatives.

Saudi Minister of Media, Dr. Awwad bin Saleh Al-Awwad, while officially launching the service, disclosed that more than 800 foreign media representatives will be in Saudi Arabia to cover the 2018 Hajj events.

Dr Awwad said “the Ministry has completed its preparations to host local and international broadcast and print media and has put in place state-of-the-art facilities and equipment to share this great event with the world. To assist them, the Ministry has established and equipped a number of media centers in Makkah and other holy places. They will provide journalists and other media professionals from inside and outside the Kingdom with press services, communication networks, computers and everything else they need to cover the Hajj,” Dr Awwad explained.

The online portal is part of a comprehensive plan being implemented by 824 teams, specializing in field supervision, monitoring and surveillance.

Background data and information on the expansion of the two Holy Mosques and the development of the areas around them, will also be provided by the centres.

“Hundreds of Saudi media representatives have been oriented on how to help their foreign counterparts with interviews and stories,” the Minister said.

The government communications center, an affiliate of the Ministry, is supervising the implementation of the Hajj Media plan and will co-ordinate with other bodies, to bring the Hajj to the world and transmit it live in several languages.

In a related development, the Minister of Hajj and Umrah, Mohammed Saleh bin Taher Banten, has approved the operational plan of the National Tawafa Establishment, for Pilgrims of Non-Arab African Countries performing the 2018 Hajj.

The plan includes automated processes for additional services, linking of pilgrims to the Saudi e-system and the development of an e-form for grouping pilgrims.

According to Rami bin Saleh Labni, Chairman of the National Tawafa Establishment, “the operational plan has identified work programmes to ensure that tasks are carried out innovatively and speedily. The management aims to fully automate processes linked to the e-system, to ensure that housing for pilgrims are fully equipped and camps in Mina and Arafat are ready before the pilgrims arrive,” Labni said.

The teams include 130 seasonal employees equipped with high-tech wireless communication devices for field inspections, daily reporting and related tasks, to ensure speedy and timely resolution of issues as they arise.

Safety and security tasks are also being handled by a safety and emergency team.

The team is to coordinate with the Civil Defence, the Traffic Department and other relevant authorities, in addition to the 40 watchmen deployed to all the Holy sites in Makkah.

A House of Expertise in culinary matters has also been engaged to ensure the safety of food provided to pilgrims.

50 employees have been engaged and mandated to perform the tasks of replacing cooked meals with sterile pre-cooked ones, ensure the readiness of catering contractors and submit detailed reports to the food committees.

The implementation phase of the plans began on the 14th of July and will continue until the 26th of September, 2018.