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Saudi army prepares for Haj

Press release from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

MAKKAH, August 14 (CIC) –  Saudi Arabia’s Hajj Security Forces and other government entities tasked with Hajj and pilgrim affairs have held their annual parade to demonstrate their readiness to make the pilgrimage a safe and well-run event again this year.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Nayef, Minister of Interior and Chairman of the Supreme Hajj Committee, patronized the annual ceremony on Monday evening to review the preparedness of Hajj security forces and various Hajj departments participating in the implementation of the general plan for the Hajj season this year.

A large crowd of spectators at the special emergency forces camp in Makkah watched members of the special forces, emergency forces, riot police and internal security simulate responses to various hypothetical security incidents.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s joint security forces oversee security and stability during the Hajj season. The pilgrimage, estimated to include approximately two million pilgrims, is scheduled to start on Sunday, August 19 and conclude Friday, August 24.

The Minister of Interior was received at the event by Prince Abdullah bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Governor of Makkah Region; Assistant Minister of Interior for Operations Affairs, Lieutenant General Said bin Abdullah Al-Qahtani, Supervisor of Public Security and Chairman of the Hajj Security Committee; and Lieutenant General Khaled bin Qarar Al-Harbi, the Commander of Special Emergency Forces and the Commander of Hajj Security Forces.

Lt. Gen. Al-Qahtani said in speech: “The forces have begun their duties in Makkah, the holy places, Madinat and all the outlets and roads leading to the Hajj areas. 

“Their slogan, which they are proud of, is that serving the pilgrims is a sacred task, and a great honour which they derive from their sincere religious belief and from executing the orders of their supreme leader, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques,  King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, and under the direct supervision of HE the Minister of Interior.”

Al-Qahtani stressed the “readiness of the security forces to perform their duties to maintain the security and safety of the pilgrims and facilitate their performance of rituals in cooperation and continuous coordination with all ministries and relevant governmental departments and non-governmental institutions,” the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

All Hajj security forces tasked with implementing the plans and regulations to maintain the security and safety of the pilgrims participated in the military parade.

The Minister of Interior reviewed the readiness of all sectors involved in the Hajj security mission to carry out their duties of providing maximum security and safety to the pilgrims, according to SPA. Additionally, the Minister observed the display of the security forces’ military vehicles and aircraft.

The security forces also performed an exercise to display their ability to combat armed violence, which showcased the high level of professionalism held by security personnel across the Kingdom in their bid to fight terrorism.

The ceremony was attended by Prince Saud bin Khalid bin Faisal bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Governor of Madinat Region; Prince Khalid bin Abdulaziz bin Ayyaf, Minister of National Guard; Prince Khalid bin Saud bin Khalid and several Government Ministers, members of the Supreme Hajj Committee, members of the Central Hajj Committee and the leaders of various security sectors.

Assistant Director for Civil Defense for Hajj, Major General Hamoud Al-Faraj, conducted a meeting to coordinate implementation of the government’s medical evacuation plan as well as the plan to address any emergencies involving hazardous materials during this year’s pilgrimage, SPA reported.

The Director of the Civil Protection Department for Hajj, Dr. Mohammed Al-Shomrani, reviewed the meeting’s agenda which focused on raising the level of readiness and coordination among those charged with keeping the peace and assisting pilgrims during Hajj.

The meeting covered the implementation of medical evacuation plans, the number of medical teams involved in implementing them, and their locations in the holy shrines and the holy mosque. Special attention was given to peak times such as Tarwiyah, Arafah Day, Eid Al-Adha, and the days of Tashreeq.

Those attending the meeting also discussed procedures for supporting medical evacuation teams on Arafah Day with medical teams stationed in the vicinity of al-Rahma mountain and Nemra mosque. The support will come from Makkah Health Affairs, Armed Forces Medical Services, the National Guard, the Red Crescent and the Ministry of Interior. These organizations will also provide support for areas known to be at risk of overcrowding in Mina, Arafa and Muzdalifah. Participants also reviewed the level of readiness of medical evacuation points in the train stations of the holy shrines, as well as the medical evacuation teams on the train route. Discussions were centered on how to deal with issues hindering the medical teams involved in the implementation of medical evacuation.

The meeting was attended by delegates from the Ministry of Interior, including representatives of the General Directorate of Civil Defence, General Directorate of Public Security, and the Medical Services department in the Ministry. Also in attendance were members of the Armed Forces Medical Services, the National Guard’s Medical Services, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, the Saudi Red Crescent Authority, Secretariat of the Holy Capital and Makkah Region Development Authority.

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