JEDDAH: The Saudi Hajj and Umrah Ministry has shared a few of the secrets and techniques behind what made the “exceptional” 2020 Hajj season successful, with zero transmitted instances of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In an unique interview with Arab News, Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr. Muhammad Saleh bin Taher Benten stated that the federal government utilized the newest know-how to enhance the pilgrim expertise this season.
Speaking about his ministry’s efforts in stopping the unfold of COVID-19, Benten stated that it applied precautionary measures in each part of the pilgrimage, beginning with the pilgrims being quarantined at house.
It additionally launched institutional quarantine from the fourth to the eighth day of the Hajj, gave pilgrims digital bracelets and enforced social distancing.
“For the second consecutive year, the ministry used the electronic platform through the ‘smart card’ application, taking into account the pilgrims’ special needs in terms of the journey’s organization and management,” he stated. “The platform is a digital ID granted to the pilgrim that is directly linked with the ‘Smart Hajj’ application supervised by the ministry.”
He added that the digital ID incorporates the pilgrims’ private, well being and housing info, such because the numbers of their group, and which bus seat and mattress has been allotted to them.
“It also enables pilgrims to know their special program, gathering points and times of departure. Moreover, the ministry registered pilgrims electronically by using an interactive platform that links 52 systems and is complemented by 30 governmental and nongovernmental bodies,” he added.
Relying on these providers, the minister stated, got here as a part of the ministry’s technique to ascertain digital platforms that cut back procedures, and hold tempo with the technical growth required to attain the Saudi Vision 2030 objective to serve pilgrims.
With each Hajj season having its personal challenges, the Hajj and Umrah Ministry has loved success after success. However, the 2020 season put the ministry to an unprecedented take a look at.
“As yearly, Saudi Arabia harnesses all its potential and energies to make the Hajj season successful, prioritizing the security and safety of the pilgrims.
“However, last year’s Hajj was a little different with the whole world facing the COVID-19 outbreak. During the 2020 Hajj season, the Saudi government faced a rare and unprecedented challenge, and thanks to God, the Kingdom was able to address it,” he stated.
He added: “When Saudi Arabia took the decision to hold Hajj for a limited number of people, it was keen to comply with all health and precautionary measures. This step was taken based on scientific decisions and thorough research studies that would ensure that pilgrims could perform Hajj rituals safely.”
He stated that the efforts exerted by the Saudi authorities on this regard and the varied services offered to pilgrims at totally different ranges have been extremely praised, most notably the well being precautions of social distancing and adhering to well being necessities.
The ministry and all Hajj-related authorities have discovered many classes from the final Hajj expertise, the place social distancing was applied. The minister make clear probably the most notable classes, and the way they will profit future seasons.
“The ministry implemented social distancing protocols in all phases of the pilgrims moving between the holy sites through limiting the seating capacity of buses to 50 percent,” stated Benten.
As for the residence of pilgrims, officers performed exams for all pilgrims and staff and assigned well being observers to make sure pointers have been maintained.
He added: “Moreover, 49-seat buses were assigned to each group of 22 passengers, and Hajj routes were fixed in a way to achieve social distancing. These measures resulted in zero transmission of COVID-19 between pilgrims and their service providers.”
As many authorities officers have stated previously, preparations for the subsequent Hajj season start as quickly because the earlier iteration ends.
One of the benefits of the extraordinary 2020 season was that the ministry may speed up tasks within the holy websites.
Benten instructed Arab News that his ministry works yearly on growing the providers offered for pilgrims, to complement their expertise via offering numerous packages and initiatives.
“The ministry always benefits from the accumulated experiences, large-scale projects and personnel to provide the finest services with the best levels for pilgrims,” he stated. “One of those initiatives that benefited the ministry, which will continue to implement it in the future, is the preparation and improvement of the holy sites, the preparation of a comprehensive scheme to expand the capacity and receive the largest number of pilgrims in order to achieve comfort, security, safety and environmental dimensions, reduce pollution and study spatial dimensions.”
He added that the ministry goals for a file time reception of pilgrims via the unified middle to research knowledge, enhancing crowd management effectivity and speedy intervention, lowering time to arrange pilgrims, and distributing them equally.
The Hajj and Umrah corporations have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic; with some failing to fulfill their obligations in direction of their workers.
“The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has provided a myriad of facilities to these companies since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic through developing work and encouraging mergers and investments in Umrah companies,” Benten stated.
He added that the ministry has additionally contributed to lowering the worth of economic safety for nondefaulting lively Umrah corporations to SR250,000 ($66,666) for six months.
“The ministry also authorized Umrah companies to reduce their capital in the commercial register to SR500,000 ($133,332), close their doors for one year, and postpone payment of nonessential violations for six months,” stated Benten.
The ministry launched the enterprise clinics unit, which is one among its packages geared toward serving to corporations assessment their mechanisms and operational plans.
“The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah will also be organizing many workshops and training programs for Umrah companies on strategies to recover from the COVID-19 crisis and the means of developing their business with efficiency,” he concluded.