Saudi authority spends $667 million to clean up holy sites

_pilgrimage-to-MeccaTHE Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has earmarked about SR2.5 billion ($667 million) for the cleanup of the holy sites during this year’s Hajj exercise, according to the Municipal and Rural Affairs Minister, Abdul Lateef Al-Asheikh.

Besides, the Hajj authority said pilgrims’ arrival processing time would be reduced to 45 minutes at Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA).

The Saudi Gazette reported that airport officials have implemented an integrated plan to serve the pilgrims better.

The plan calls for greater coordination with other government departments and the private sector. The new process is expected to reduce wait time from four hours to 45 minutes.

The President of the General Authority of Civil Aviation, Sulaiman Al-Hamdan, is also said to have instructed all employees at both KAIA in Jeddah and Prince Muhammad bin Abdulaziz Airport in Madinah to exert all efforts to serve the pilgrims and visitors to the Prophet’s Mosque. The Haj and Umrah terminal at KAIA has 143 immigration outlets.

Meanwhile, the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) said it had transported more than 29,000 intending pilgrims to Saudi Arabia for the 2015 Hajj.

The Director, Public Affairs of the commission, Alhaji Uba Mana, said the commission had also recorded 74 flights to date.

He said some of the pilgrims were transported direct to Madinah and others to Jeddah, adding, “those taken to Jeddah will move to Madinah from the airport as vehicles are stationed at the airports for that purpose.”

He said the commission had secured 57,000 visas out of 66,000 required for the pilgrims, assuring that the remaining 8,000 pilgrims would be ready before their schedule flights.

Mana therefore assured that the airlifts would be concluded before the deadline of September 17, 2015, adding, “the airlift is hitch-free and has not encountered any flight delay.”

Performing the Hajj rites is the fifth pillar of Islam and the most significant manifestation of Islamic faith and unity. Undertaking the Hajj at least once is a duty for Muslims who are physically and financially fit to undertake the spiritual journey. The emphasis on financial ability is meant to ensure that a Muslim takes care of his family first. The requirement that a Muslim be healthy and physically capable of undertaking the pilgrimage is intended to exempt those who cannot endure the rigours of the extended trip.

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