Security forces ready for Haj: Prince Naif




Prince Naif, who is chairman of the Supreme Haj Committee, inspected Haj facilities and arrangements in the holy sites of Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah yesterday on the instructions of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and Crown Prince Sultan.

More than 1.64 million pilgrims from different parts of the Islamic world have so far arrived in the Kingdom for this year’s Haj. According to Maj. Gen. Salim Al-Belaihed, director of the passports department, 1.49 million pilgrims have come by air, 133,635 by land and 24,039 by sea.

Prince Naif said Saudi security forces are capable of protecting pilgrims. “We will make every effort to ensure the security and safety of the guests of God,” he told reporters after the inspection tour.

He said the security forces parade was a run of the mill event. “It does not mean we are preparing for a terrorist attack. At the same time, we make preparations for eventualities,” he said, while commending security forces for their dedicated efforts in serving pilgrims. He said Saudi Arabia has one of the lowest crime rates in the world.

Prince Naif confirmed that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinehjad would be coming for Haj on an invitation from King Abdullah.

“We have not made any extraordinary security arrangements because of the president’s presence,” the minister said, while answering a question put forward by a foreign journalist.

Prince Naif also criticized those who perform Haj without official permits, saying such pilgrimages are unacceptable in light of Shariah. He further called on Islamic countries to discourage their citizens from performing Haj illegally.

Prince Naif said Saudi security forces have taken measures to avoid accidents at the Jamrat in Mina. “I am sure that the addition of another floor to the bridge this year would smoothen the flow of pilgrims and facilitate the stoning ritual,” he added.

He urged Tawafa organizations to cooperate with security forces by following the schedule for the dispatch of pilgrims in groups to the Jamrat. However, he said the government has taken all precautions to face any unforeseen incidents during the Haj.

He said the Kingdom has nothing to do with the increase in Haj expenses being suffered by some foreign pilgrims. “It may caused by rise in international prices.” He said the government has appointed agencies to monitor those who increase prices during Haj in the Kingdom, without any reasons.

“We will not allow anybody to exploit pilgrims. We consider serving the guests of God as a great honor and we reject any move that causes harm to them,” he added. He said the government has taken into consideration the growing number of pilgrims every year.

The Health Ministry said yesterday that the overall health condition of pilgrims was satisfactory, adding that no contagious diseases had so far been reported among them.

Hospitals and health centers in Makkah have provided health services to 54,499 pilgrims during this Haj season.

During his inspection tour, Prince Naif opened the Jabal Al-Rahma Hospital in Arafat and toured its facilities, accompanied by top officials including Makkah Governor Prince Khaled Al-Faisal and Health Minister Dr. Hamad Al-Manie.

The hospital includes five halls to treat sun-stroke patients, three operating rooms and seven admission rooms.

The 265-bed hospital was completed in three phases at a total cost of SR44 million. It has 240 employees including doctors and nurses.

In a related development, King Abdullah commended Al-Manie and the entire staff of the Health Ministry for their contributions to improve health services to pilgrims. The king made the comment during a telephone conversation with the minister.

Al-Manie said the pilgrims were enjoying good health as a result of services being provided by the ministry in 21 hospitals, 114 health centers, 13,000 blood supply units and 85 ambulances. “We have also taken a series of measures to prevent the spread of contagious diseases among the pilgrims,” Al-Manie said.

Prince Naif also inspected the newly established high-tech Jamrat Bridge project, which was executed by the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs at a cost of SR4.2 billion. The last phase of the project will be implemented next year.

Dr. Habeeb Zain Al-Abidine, deputy minister of municipal and rural affairs and supervisor of development projects, said his ministry had carried out new projects worth SR1 billion in the holy sites this year for the welfare of pilgrims.

Prince Naif and his entourage also visited the newly built King Khaled Bridge Road, which will facilitate the traffic of pilgrims from the holy sites to Makkah. The road was constructed at a cost of SR385 million.

Also yesterday, Prince Khaled Al-Faisal opened the 8th Makkah conference organized by the Muslim World League (MWL) at its headquarters; the meeting was attended by Islamic scholars from different parts of the world.

Prince Khaled emphasized the importance of the conference, adding that it would contribute to Islamic unity. He highlighted Saudi Arabia’s efforts in developing the two holy mosques and improving facilities for pilgrims in the holy sites.

“The Kingdom also supports Islamic causes and works for strengthening Muslim unity and solidarity,” he added.



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