Saudi Arabia’s Haramain High-Speed Railway opens to public

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Saudi Arabia’s new Haramain High-Speed Railway opened to the public on Thursday, whisking Muslim pilgrims and other travelers between Makkah and Madinah. (Al-Ekhbariya)
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Saudi Arabia’s new Haramain High-Speed Railway opened to the public on Thursday, whisking Muslim pilgrims and other travelers between Makkah and Madinah. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia’s new Haramain High-Speed Railway opened to the public on Thursday, whisking Muslim pilgrims and other travelers between Makkah and Madinah. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia’s new Haramain High-Speed Railway opened to the public on Thursday, whisking Muslim pilgrims and other travelers between Makkah and Madinah. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia’s new Haramain High-Speed Railway opened to the public on Thursday, whisking Muslim pilgrims and other travelers between Makkah and Madinah. (SPA)
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Saudi passengers are seen at Makkah’s train station on October 11, 2018 as the new high-speed railway line linking Makkah and Medina opens. (AFP)
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Saudi passengers sit in the platform at Makkah’s train station on October 11, 2018 as the new high-speed railway line linking Makkah and Medina opens. (AFP)
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Saudi Arabia’s new Haramain High-Speed Railway opened to the public on Thursday, whisking Muslim pilgrims and other travelers between Makkah and Madinah. (Al-Ekhbariya)
Updated 12 October 2018
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Saudi Arabia’s Haramain High-Speed Railway opens to public

  • During Hajj, the road journey between the two holy cities can take as long as 10 hours.
  • The SR60 billion ($16 billion) mega project is the biggest railway in the Middle East and will transport 60 million passengers a year.

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s new Haramain High-Speed Railway opened to the public on Thursday, whisking travelers between Makkah and Madinah through King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) in Rabigh and Jeddah.

Rumaih Al-Rumaih, chairman of the Public Transport Authority (PTA), said: “It is a moment that marks a historical national turning point in the Kingdom’s modern transportation.”

The train will operate four days a week, from Thursday to Sunday. It is eventually expected to operate daily, by which time direct trips between Makkah and Madinah will take two hours, and trips between Makkah and Madinah stopping at Jeddah and KAEC will take an additional 20 minutes.

Al-Rumaih extended his thanks to King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for their unlimited support.

He also thanked Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal for playing “a major role in supporting the project and in overcoming obstacles during the implementation phase.”

Al-Rumaih went on to thank Transport Minister Nabeel Al-Amoudi and all other partners for contributing to the successful opening of the largest railway project in the Middle East.

Saad Al-Shehri, director-general of the Haramain High-Speed Railway in Madinah, said the train’s first public trip started by carrying 417 passengers from Madinah to Makkah.

A train traveling in the opposite direction from Makkah to Madinah with stops in Jeddah and KAEC, carrying the same number of passengers, departed at the same time.

Tickets for the Haramain High-Speed Railway can be purchased online (www.hhr.sa), as well as over the phone (920004433) or direct from ticket offices between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. A discount of 50 percent is currently available.

The Haramain High-Speed Railway project is in line with the objectives of Vision 2030, as it should help increase the number of visitors to the Kingdom’s holy places. 

The railway is capable of transporting 60 million passengers onboard a fleet of 35 trains, each one consisting of 417 seats, annually. The trains, which can travel up to 300km per hour, are equipped with the latest technology to ensure comfort and safety.

The railway covers a distance of 450km, linking stations in Makkah, Jeddah, King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah (KAIA), King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) in Rabigh, and Madinah.

The Kingdom is boosting its infrastructure spending and expanding its railways — a $22.5 billion metro system is currently under construction in Riyadh — as it seeks to diversify its oil-dependent economy.

The annual Hajj pilgrimage, which will take place in September next year, attracts more than 2 million Muslims to the Makkah region.


Two Saudis among 31 foreigners killed in Easter Day attacks in Sri Lanka

Updated 23 April 2019
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Two Saudis among 31 foreigners killed in Easter Day attacks in Sri Lanka

  • Mohamed Jafar and Hany Osman, cabin crew with Saudi Arabian Airlines, were in transit and staying at one of the three hotels targeted
  • Saudi Ambassador Abdulnasser Al-Harthi says officials are awaiting the results of DNA tests

COLOMBO: Two Saudis were among 31 foreigners killed in a string of Easter Sunday suicide bombings in Sri Lanka, the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry said on Monday, a day after the devastating attacks on hotels and churches killed at least 290 people and wounded nearly 500.

The extent of the carnage began to emerge as information from government officials, relatives and media reports offered the first details of those who had died. Citizens from at least eight countries, including the United States, were killed, officials said.

Among them were Saudis Mohammed Jafar and Hany Osman. They worked as cabin crew on Saudi Arabian Airlines, and were in transit and staying at one of the three hotels that were hit.

Saudi Ambassador Abdulnasser Al-Harthi said that officials are awaiting the results of DNA tests on the two Saudi victims, and only after these are received will their names be confirmed.

Cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said the Sri Lankan government believes the vast scale of the attacks, which clearly targeted the minority Christian community and outsiders, suggested the involvement of an international terrorism network.

“We don’t think a small organization can do all that,” he said. “We are now investigating international support for them and their other links — how they produced the suicide bombers and bombs like this.”

The attacks mostly took place during church services or when hotel guests were sitting down to breakfast. In addition to the two Saudis, officials said the foreign victims included one person from Bangladesh, two from China, eight from India, one from France, one from Japan, one from The Netherlands, one from Portugal, one from Spain, two from Turkey, six from the UK, two people with US and UK dual nationalities, and two with Australian and Sri Lankan dual nationalities.

Three of Danish billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen’s four children were among the foreigners who were killed, a spokesman for the family confirmed. Povlsen is the wealthiest man in Denmark, the largest landowner in Scotland and owns the largest share of British online fashion and cosmetics retailer Asos.

Two Turkish engineers working on a project in Sri Lanka also died in the attacks, the English-language Daily Sabah newspaper reported. Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu gave their names as Serhan Selcuk Narici and Yigit Ali Cavus.

Fourteen foreign nationals remain unaccounted for, the Sri Lankan foreign ministry said, adding that they might be among unidentified victims at the Colombo Judicial Medical Officer’s morgue.

Seventeen foreigners injured in the attacks were still being treated at the Colombo National Hospital and a private hospital in the city, while others had been discharged after treatment.