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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Special Ramadan plan in place for holy mosques

JEDDAH: A comprehensive plan is in place to serve the large number of pilgrims and visitors arriving in the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah during Ramadan, an official of the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques’ Affairs has said.

“The special plan for the Grand Mosque, which will be in force from Aug. 1 to Sept. 13, seeks to enable visitors and pilgrims in the Grand Mosque to worship with total peace of mind and security,” the Presidency’s Vice President Al-Khozaim told Arab News.

The departments dealing with Zamzam supply, cleaning, carpets, wheel chairs, gates and courtyards are geared to serve the pilgrims, Al-Khozaim said.

Cooled Zamzam water will be made available at most locations for the thirsty. “This year 160 additional Zamzam taps are installed in the mataf (area of circumambulation) and inside the mosque. Other services include more guide maps to help pilgrims locate their positions, water spraying fans in six locations in the southern courtyard, cordon tapes with writings in different languages at passages where sitting is prohibited and advanced water dispensers available,” he said.

More wheelchairs are being made available to assist disabled pilgrims, he added.

Security men at the gates will not allow visitors to bring foods inside the mosque. The cleaners will, after the breaking of the fast, remove leftovers from the courtyards and prepare the place for Isha prayer, he said.

The maintenance departments will ensure lighting, air-conditioning, escalators and telephones work properly both inside and outside the mosque, he added.

The Makkah Haram Library, which contains rare manuscripts and books, will receive visitors in two shifts. The Two Holy Mosques Exhibition will also receive visitors both in the morning and evening. People will also be allowed to visit the Kiswa (the black-covering of the Kaaba) factory, he said.

About 5,000 people have been pressed into service to successfully implement the plan. Some of them are seasonal appointees.

The presidency has given special training to more than 400 workers, including for supervision and communication in different languages. The supervisors, apart from checking the smooth functioning of duties and diligence of workers, will take immediate steps to improve any service. The Operations Room will receive emergency reports and will take immediate action.

There will also be a special security force to prevent people sitting on passages and to regulate crowds at gates. The security forces will also deal with illegal cart pullers and racketeers who reserve front seats. Boy scouts will guide lost pilgrims and lectures and classes on various religious topics will be organized at different parts of the Grand Mosque.

First aid workers and rescuers will be working in collaboration with the Red Crescent and Civil Defense. The lost-and-found section is staffed with multilingual workers.

The official also urged pilgrims and visitors to respect the sanctity of the Grand Mosque. They should not sleep or bring food or baggage to the holy mosque and not wash at locations meant for drinking Zamzam.

They should also be careful to throw waste only in wastebaskets and leave shoes at the allotted places.

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