Hajj media center launched for local, international journalists at Jeddah airport

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The newly opened 2024 Hajj season Media Center offers three studios for TV and other media channel interviews, along with a shared workspace. (Supplied)
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Saleh Al-Zuaid, the official spokesman for the Ministry of Transport next to Turki Altheeb, PR director at Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport. (Supplied)
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Saudi media representatives during the opening ceremony of the 2024 Hajj season Media Center. (Supplied)
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Nada Hameed, Arab News reporter while interviewing Saleh Al-Zuaid, the official spokesman for the Ministry of Transport. (Supplied)
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Updated 19 May 2024

Hajj media center launched for local, international journalists at Jeddah airport

  • 24/7 operated center offers journalists shared workspaces and real-time updates during the Hajj season

JEDDAH: The Ministry of Transport and Logistic Services launched the media center for the 2024 Hajj season on Sunday at the Hajj and Umrah terminals at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah.

The center aims to support and assist more than 1,300 journalists from 16 countries during the arrival and departure of pilgrims via the airport throughout the Hajj season.

Operating 24/7, the center offers journalists shared workspaces and real-time updates, enhancing media efficiency during the Hajj season. This is complemented by the Makkah Route Initiative led by the Ministry of Interior in a dedicated pavilion, alongside the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah and the General Authority of Media Regulation.

It also caters to local and international media outlets, including news agencies, television channels, journalists, correspondents and photographers.

Saleh Al-Zuaid, official spokesman for the Ministry of Transport, told Arab News: “The importance of the center lies in providing a place for journalists, offering multiple studios, shared workspaces, showcasing comprehensive digital transportation technologies and delivering media messages in five languages: Arabic, English, French, Urdu and Persian.”

Al-Zuaid discussed the technological advancements that will revolutionize transportation and logistics systems for pilgrims. Last year, 19 technologies were introduced to enhance the pilgrim experience, with plans to implement 32 more this year.

Notable innovations include road-cooling technology, virtual glasses for bus inspections and automatic monitoring technology, which significantly reduce bus inspection time. The implementation of these technologies aims to improve efficiency, safety and comfort for pilgrims during their journey.

Al-Zuaid said: “There are technologies we will announce for feasibility study for implementation in the coming years, some of which were launched last year and achieved high success, and will be implemented this year as well, such as the automatic monitoring technology, which reduced the bus inspection time from 60 seconds to 6 seconds, as well as the road-cooling technology implemented last year which contributed to reducing street temperatures by 12 degrees Celsius.”

Other important technologies include the luggage-free Hajj initiative, which facilitates the departure of pilgrims, to be implemented this year at King Abdulaziz International Airport and Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah.

The Ministry of Transport is exploring innovative initiatives to further enhance the pilgrimage experience, such as the rubberized sidewalk initiative, the taxi app for convenient transportation, and the use of self-driving vehicles for order delivery among the new projects set to be introduced.

These initiatives focus on improving pilgrims’ overall well-being, reducing logistical challenges and enhancing accessibility to essential services.

Saudi authorities thwart drug smuggling operations

Updated 20 June 2024

Saudi authorities thwart drug smuggling operations

Arab News RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s drug control authority seized large quantities of narcotics and arrested several people involved in smuggling following a number of operations across the Kingdom, reported Saudi Press Agency.

Border guards in Asir province thwarted an attempt to smuggle 123 kg of hashish and 89,355 narcotic tablets, while in Jazan four Ethiopian nationals were arrested for trafficking 75 kg of qat.

In Riyadh, the General Directorate of Narcotics Control arrested two Pakistani residents attempting to sell 26 kg of methamphetamine.

Saudi security authorities are urging people to report any activities related to drug smuggling or promotion by calling 911 in the Makkah, Riyadh and Eastern Province regions, and 999 in the rest of the Kingdom.

Alternatively, information can be emailed to [email protected]. All reports are treated in confidence.

The art of playing the drums — a popular part of Najran cultural heritage

Updated 20 June 2024

The art of playing the drums — a popular part of Najran cultural heritage

RIYADH: Drumming is an important and popular part of cultural heritage in Najran, especially during holidays and special occasions.

The art of playing the drums is considered one of the most famous and creative Najran dances and is the only one in which all vocal and movement arts are included. 

Drummers begin collectively in a single straight row as they move in harmony to the beat of drums and tambourines while chanting. 

The dancers then divide into two rows, one beating tambourines and the other the drums. At the same time, they chant poetic verses with a range of melodies and rhythms.

Najran’s cultural dancers once again enthralled families and visitors during this year’s Eid Al-Adha celebrations, treating them to an exhilarating performance.

AI-enhanced visual medical service proved useful during Hajj

Updated 20 June 2024

AI-enhanced visual medical service proved useful during Hajj

  • The service uses a high-tech capsule to conduct the necessary medical examinations within six minutes for each individual

RIYADH: A high-tech visual medical service trialed by the Saudi Ministry of Interior on security personnel during this year’s Hajj season proved successful, Saudi Press Agency reported.

The service uses a capsule enhanced with artificial intelligence and modern communication technology to conduct medical examinations in the workplace, completing each one within six minutes.

A report from the ministry’s General Administration of Medical Services said the capsule enabled 26 physiological measurements, the most important of which were height and weight, body and muscle mass, blood pressure, temperature, oxygen levels, energy requirements, heart rate, and heart rate variability.

Each person’s health status data is analyzed by the built-in AI system, followed by a remote medical consultation with a doctor. Any necessary medications are then prescribed via the Wasfaty system.

The service reduces the need for hospital or health care center visits and provides a safe, private environment for conducting workplace health examinations and medical consultations.

Personnel currently covered by the service are from the Ministry of Interior and the Presidency of State Security.

Saudi Arabia’s Mashaer Train transports more than 2.2m Hajj pilgrims 

Updated 19 June 2024

Saudi Arabia’s Mashaer Train transports more than 2.2m Hajj pilgrims 

RIYADH: Saudi Railways on Wednesday hailed the success of the Mashaer Train operation at this year’s Hajj season, saying the metro service had transported more than 2.2 million passengers between the nine stations in Arafat, Muzdalifah and Mina, operating 2,206 trips.

More than 29,000 worshippers were transported on the first day of the pilgrimage, while more than 292,000 pilgrims were carried from Mina to Arafat, Saudi Press Agency reported.

The Mashaer Train then transported over 305,000 people during the pilgrimage from Arafat to Muzdalifah, and more than 383,000 worshippers from Muzdalifah to Mina.

During the days of Tashreeq, the train carried more than 1.2 million pilgrims from stations Mina 1, Mina 2, and Muzdalifah 3 to Mina 3 station (Jamarat), which offered easy access to the Jamarat Bridge.

Bashar Al-Malik, CEO of SAR, said that the success of the operating plan was built on unlimited support for the railway sector from the Saudi leadership.

Riyadh targets Expo 2030 ‘by the world, for the world’

Updated 20 June 2024

Riyadh targets Expo 2030 ‘by the world, for the world’

  • Saudi organizers deliver their first progress report to event bureau chiefs in Paris

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is on target to deliver an Expo 2030 “by the world, for the world,” organizers have told event chiefs in Paris in their first progress report since Riyadh was chosen as host city.

Abdulaziz Alghannam, director general of the Riyadh Expo 2030 office at the Royal Commission for Riyadh City, led the Saudi delegation at the general assembly of the Bureau International des Expositions in the French capital.

Efforts were fully underway for Expo registration and preparation for creating the legal framework to enable international participation in the event, he told the bureau.

Riyadh was chosen to host the event at the bureau’s last general assembly in November 2023. The expo will take place  from Oct. 1, 2030 to March 31, 2031, when the Saudi capital will host 197 countries and 29 international organizations.

The theme – “The Era of Change: Together for a Foresighted Tomorrow” – encapsulates Saudi Arabia’s commitment to using the Expo to accelerate progress toward the planned sustainable development goals. The event will focus on harnessing science and innovation for a better future.

Preparations are underway at the highest levels, including infrastructure development, legislative and financial measures, the master plan for the Expo site, and legacy plans.