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“Drones” to be used in Makkah during Ramadan to help ensure safe pilgrimage

Learning from previous years, Saudi is planning to enhance security during Ramadan in Makkah.

This will be implemented through better coordination and a bit of technology.

Drones will be used for the first time in the Grand Mosque in Makkah to manage the crowd in Ramadan, local daily Al-Madina reported on Wednesday quoting deputy commander of the Umrah forces Maj. Gen. Mohammed Al-Ahmadi.

The annual Hajj pilgrimage draws around 2 to 4 million people each year and last year, at least 31 Muslim Hajj pilgrims died there, the country’s official news agency reported in 2017.

In 2016, Saudi authorities tightened security at pilgrimage sites following a deadly stampede that killed at least 2,297 pilgrims during 2015’s Hajj.

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The Umrah crowd management plan revolves around three key points: Security, organizational and humanitarian aspects, said Al-Ahmadi.

What’s the plan? 

Security will be on the watch for pilgrims or visitors who show any sign of distress, and they will not be allowed to enter the Grand Mosque for their own safety and that of others.

In addition, Al-Ahmadi explained that visitors or pilgrims will not be allowed to enter the Haram plazas with their luggage.

Besides, he asked pilgrims and visitors, to stay cool during their visit and don’t rush to get out, in an attempt to keep foot traffic to a minimum.

In 2017, Saudi’s interior ministry forces turned away 208,236 busses carrying illegal pilgrims while 97 fake agencies were caught and fined for providing unlicensed permits to pilgrims.

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Drones and security aircraft are only part of the plan, as there will be about 2,500 cameras to monitor the crowd inside the Grand Mosque.

Furthermore, the security plan will be carried out by 2,400 policemen in addition to 1,300 security patrols which will be roaming the area around the Haram, Al-Madina reported.

Interior Ministry spokesperson Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki, said last year that “More than 450,000 Hajj violators were returned after verifying they either lacked the proper permits or the ones they thought were legal turned out fake.”

In 2017, more than 100,000 saudi security personnel were present in Mekkah before pilgrims even arrived.

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Everything is under control

Director of Makkah Police Maj. Gen. Fahd Bin Mutlaq Al-Ossaimi said there will be six stations for shuttle trips to and from the Grand Mosque.

“The Makkah Police will group pilgrims and visitors at the Grand Mosque to facilitate their entry and exit,” he added.

Al-Ossaimi said the grouping operation will also include car parks near the central area and entry points to the Haram.

He said the six shuttle bus stations are Bab Ali, Ban Ajyad, Al-Ghaza, Shuab Amir, Jaroul and Reia Bakhsh.