Ramadan: Security forces unveil Multi-faceted Umrah security plan

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MAKKAH — As the fasting month of Ramadan begins, all the relevant Saudi security forces under the Ministry of Interior have mobilized their personnel and resources to ensure the smooth flow of Umrah pilgrims and visitors to the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah during the holy month, which marks the peak Umrah season of the year.

Senior officials of the security forces announced an integrated security plan and the readiness of their forces to enable the worshipers to perform their rituals in ease and comfort in an air of spirituality during the blessed month.

Addressing a joint press conference of the commanders of the Umrah Security Forces at the Unified Security Operations Center in Makkah on Saturday, Public Security Director Lt. Gen. Muhammad Al-Bassami said that Minister of Interior Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif has approved the Umrah security plan for the holy month of Ramadan and that the plan was based on five main axes. “The plan included the axes of the security aspect, crowd management, traffic management, provision of humanitarian services, and supporting and empowering the participating service agencies. Every year, the Ministry of Interior reviews the plans for previous seasons and studies all field and statistical reports, evaluation of operational processes, and updating them in accordance with the requirements of the new season,” he said.

Lt. Gen. Al-Bassami also stressed that the security and safety of the guests of God is one of the top priorities of the security forces under the Ministry of Interior. “The Umrah Security Forces have started implementing their tasks to maintain law and order, manage crowds and traffic, provide humanitarian services, empower and support security, service and support agencies, and employ technology and harness it to serve the pilgrims and visitors to the Two Holy Mosques,” he said while noting that the security forces are taking advantage of artificial intelligence to deal with any anticipated crowd of worshipers at the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque.

The Public Security chief said that the mataf (circumambulating area around the Holy Kaaba) and the ground floor of the Grand Mosque were allocated for Umrah pilgrims, along with part of the first floor and part of the roof being used to meet the increasing demand for Umrah performers. He pointed out that the Third Saudi Expansion, the external courtyards and part of the roof were allocated for worshipers, while front part of these floors would be allocated for the pilgrims.

Lt. Gen. Al-Bassami spoke about the anticipated density of crowds at public transport stations and the role of security forces in easing the flow of worshipers so as to avoid crowding and that is in coordination and integration with all the relevant parties.

He said that the corridor between the Third Saudi Expansion and the Mataf project were opened to facilitate the movement of pilgrims. “There will be an organization of entry and exit paths to ensure the safety of crowds during prayers, especially Taraweeh and Tahajjud prayers,” he said. Lt. Gen. Al-Bassami said the field security teams will intensify inspections to respond quickly to stop perpetrators of negative phenomena such as begging and squatting on the passage in a way hindering the movement and security and safety of pilgrims and worshipers in the Central Haram Area.

Addressing the press meet, Maj. Gen. Hamoud Al-Faraj, acting director general of the Civil Defense, said that the directorate has already begun its work to serve the guests of God in Makkah and Madinah as well as to ensure their safety. “The Civil Defense teams have implemented as many as 5,645 tours at all the residences of the Umrah pilgrims as well as at all sites and facilities that the pilgrims frequent during the months of Rajab and Shaban so as to ensure their safety requirements. The teams also engage in educating pilgrims and visitors about taking care of safety measures.”

Maj. Gen. Al-Faraj said that the directorate has mobilized Civil Defense centers in Makkah and Madinah, seasonal centers, mobile units, field support teams with heavy machinery and equipment, specialized teams, and the Haram Support Force in the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque, and they are supported by volunteers and the use of technology and artificial intelligence in Civil defense operations during the Umrah season.

For his part, Maj. Gen. Saleh Al-Murabba, deputy director general of Passports, said that the General Directorate of Passports has beefed up its readiness to ensure the speedy completion of procedures for the arrival of the pilgrims since the beginning of the Umrah season, and that they are being reviewed and their pace increased during the Ramadan season.

He pointed out that the security plan of the General Directorate of Passports includes completing the arrival and departure procedures for pilgrims from outside the Kingdom through all ports, facilitating security permits for companies, and coordination and harmonization by providing support and assistance to all agencies working to serve the guests of God.

He pointed out that all land, air and sea ports are supported with qualified personnel capable of speaking several languages, and that they are provided with the latest advanced technological devices such as biometric devices, forgery detection devices and relevant security documentation devices. This is in addition to mobile counters that are used for the first time to complete travel procedures, simultaneous translation devices for 137 languages, and allocating work teams to welcome pilgrims in several languages.

Saudi Gazette

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