The Holy Cities of Makkah and Madinah are teeming with haj pilgrims from all over the world performing the haj this season. The presence of millions of people is a major challenge for the Saudi Arabian authorities to ensure that all issues pertaining to the intending haj pilgrims can be tackled effectively. In this regard, the Saudi Arabian government has implemented a special program where they invite foreign media to take a closer look at the preparations made.

All Muslim media employees from throughout the world are in Jeddah to prepare for the haj coverage of the 1438 Hijrah / 2017 on the special invitation from the Saudi Arabian government. During their stay, foreign media representatives took part in visit programs arranged by the authorities particularly on their preparations to ensure that this year's haj season runs smoothly. So far, the invited international reporters have been brought to watch a presentation by the Saudi Arabian Haj security forces in handling any issues that might arise. Present at the presentation was the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.

The delegation then visited the 911 National Security Operation Centre that carries out 24-hour surveillance at haj locations. According to a briefing, 15 thousand high definition cameras have been installed throughout the Holy Cities of Makkah and Madinah, and another 5 thousand 400 cameras at several haj locations. The 911 centre also receives emergency calls for any immediate action that has been timed to take about 42 to 60 seconds after the emergency call is received. To facilitate communications, the centre can receive emergency calls in 5 languages namely Arabic, Urdu, English, Malay and French. After identifying the type of emergency engines, police, ambulance, fire brigade and helicopters can be deployed to the stated location.

From the 911 Centre, the delegation then visited the Research Institute for Haj and Umrah which carries out various research for continuous improvements that need to be implemented for haj matters as well as facilities at several locations to ensure the haj pilgrim's safety and comfort. The research not only focuses on building infrastructure, but also on the safety of the haj pilgrim's food and drink. Currently, the Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Haj and Umrah predicts that the number of haj pilgrims for this season has increased by 800 thousand people following the completion of the Masjidil Haram expansion project.

Source: Radio Television Brunei