`Labaik Allahuma Labaik’: In a first, female police officers were deployed for the safety of Hajis at holy sites

MAKKAH: For the first time, female police officers join the Hajj security forces in Makkah

Arab News reported that following the government’s announcement last year that women could join military service, female officers were able to join their male colleagues in guarding the holy city for the Muslim holiday.

Afnan Abu Hussein, who was among the first group of female cadets to graduate from the police service training, told Al-Ekhbariya TV: “It is a source of pride and happiness for us. Hajj is a very busy season for us unlike normal days.

The pilgrimage began on Wednesday as pilgrims began their journey from the Grand Mosque in Mecca under strict safety regulations.

“Each group of pilgrims has a leader to facilitate and control their movement to ensure social distancing,” said Sari Asiri, director general of Hajj and Umrah affairs at the health ministry.

A huge security blanket has been thrown around the holy sites to ensure a peaceful and uneventful Hajj this year.

Saudi Interior Minister and Chairman of the Supreme Hajj Committee, Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif, attended a ceremony outlining security measures to ensure the safety of worshipers taking part in this year’s annual pilgrimage.

Arab News reported that the event, organized and carried out by the Hajj security forces, also brought together the Deputy Governor of Medina, Prince Saud bin Khalid Al-Faisal, and several senior officials.

In a speech, Lt. Gen. Mohammed bin Abdullah Al-Basami, director of public security and head of the Hajj security committee, said security forces would operate in Makkah, Madinah, other holy sites , in ports and on all roads leading to Hajj areas.

Prince Abdulaziz saw the staff demonstrate how they would deal with several possible security scenarios and witnessed a parade of special and armored vehicles and air support.

Saudi security forces adopt plans to keep Hajj safe

Meanwhile, officials unveiled a series of special exhibitions and enrichment initiatives that will take place at holy sites during Hajj to provide pilgrims with enhanced spiritual and cultural experiences as part of an unforgettable journey to the Hajj.

The program was initiated by the Royal Commission for the City and Holy Places of Makkah, represented by the Kidana Development Company.

In a message posted on his official Twitter account, Kidana said, “To realize the #Saudi_Vision_2030 by enriching the religious journey, cultural experience and caring for #Pilgrims, #Kidana is launching seven initiatives to enrich the experience of pilgrims with the participation of the public and private sectors”.

The seven events include three exhibitions related to holy sites and four religious and cultural initiatives.

The Alliance Exhibition in Arafat will introduce pilgrims to the most important features of Mecca and its people. The Water Story exhibition, also in the Arafat region, highlights the history of water supply during Hajj and the honor of the mission. It is presented in cooperation with the Al-Zamazemah Company, which is responsible for the supply and distribution of water at holy sites during Hajj and Umrah, and throughout the year.

The third exhibition, in Mina, focuses on the Kiswa, the fabric that covers the Kaaba. It will tell the story of the Kiswa, explain how it is made, and highlight the Kingdom’s efforts to provide and develop all services related to the Kaaba. The exhibition is organized by the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, the House of Islamic Arts and the Institute of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques for Hajj and Umrah Research.

The other four initiatives cover various cultural, Islamic and social subjects and will be presented in various places in collaboration with several specialized associations.

Coffee is a strong element of Saudi culture closely linked to the country’s identity and traditions. In cooperation with the Ministry of Culture’s Year of Saudi Coffee initiative, coffee will be served to pilgrims in Mina. As part of the Hajj initiative, pilgrims will also have the opportunity to learn about the distinctive characteristics of Saudi coffee, as well as the ways of preparing and serving it.

The second initiative, which will take place next to the Aqaba Hill Mosque in collaboration with the Saudi Association of Tourist Guides, aims to share the history of the place and the events that took place there.

The Kidana Development Company is running an initiative called A Picture and a Souvenir to help pilgrims remember and cherish the highlights of their Hajj experience, as part of which visitors will receive gifts.

Finally, the Aroma of Holy Places, which will take place in Mina during Eid Al-Adha, is a unique initiative designed to capture and share the essence of Holy Places.

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