Umrah season sees more visitors despite reduced visa numbers
Although Umrah pilgrim quotas for various countries remain reduced this year, including in Ramadan, the flow of visitors to Makkah remained high. The holy city witnessed an increased number of pilgrims from within the Kingdom during the fasting month.
The Ministry of Haj has said that over 6 million Umrah pilgrims visited the Kingdom during the just concluded Umrah season and, according to the traffic police, over 20 million visitors visited the holy city in the month of Ramadan alone.
“The Ministry of Haj issued 6,048,373 visas during this year’s Umrah season, with the successful rate of returning pilgrims,” a senior official from the ministry told Arab News. In fact, he added, the successful rate of returning pilgrims has been confirmed with the effective electronic monitoring.
“Shortly, we will release the details,” he added.
“We have successfully managed the entry and movement of 20 million passengers till the 27th of Ramadan into the holy city of Makkah.” said Ali Al-Zahrani of traffic police in Makkah. He added that more than a million cars were parked during the holy month in designated parking slots in Makkah.
He said that traffic police executed its plan successfully to avoid vehicular congestion inside the holy city in general and the Grand Mosque area in particular. This is substantiated by the lowest number of traffic accidents also violations.
Al-Zahrani added that the smooth traffic movement was facilitated in the central Makkah region enabling pedestrians to visit the Grand Mosque by preventing the vehicular movement into the area.
“Adequate public transport buses were provided from parking slots to the Grand Mosque; approximately 1,255 public buses were used to fetch pilgrims during Ramadan from parking slots to the Grand Mosque,” he added.
The cleaning and hygienic maintenance of the city also was a challenging job in the city due to the increase of pilgrims.
The Makkah municipality received an average of 2,555 tons of waste mainly from the Haram and central Makkah region each day of the month of Ramadan, according to its officials. It received about 73,202 tons of waste during the holy month, excluding Eid Holidays, said an official statement of Makkah Municipality.
It also deployed over 8,500 exclusive cleaners during Ramadan in the city.
The Presidency of Grand Mosque and Prophet’s Mosque Affairs announced that Umrah 2014 plan has proven successful. Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, head of the presidency, said it received and served the guests of Allah in Makkah and Madinah, and attributed the success of the Umrah season to Custodian of Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah’s vision and direction.