Makkah historical sites to get private sector facelift

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

MAKKAH: Private sector firms will be invited to undertake maintenance and improvement work on Makkah’s historical sites as part of efforts to highlight the locations’ spiritual significance for residents and visitors.

CEO of the Royal Commission for the Holy City of Makkah and Holy Sites, Abdulrahman bin Farouk Addas, told the Conference and Exhibition of Hajj and Umrah Services that the sites normally witness high numbers of visitors during the Hajj and Umrah seasons.

Jabal Al-Noor, Hira Cave, Jabal Thawr, Jabal Al-Rahma in Arafah, Al-Baia Mosque in Mina, the site of Al-Hudaybiyah peace treaty are among the most popular locations.

With visitor numbers growing, maintenance and renovation are especially important, he said.

Addas said that the need to develop these sites and their surrounding areas will create investment opportunities for the private sector.

More than 70 government, private and nonprofit sectors will take part in the integrated works of Hajj and Umrah to achieve the goals of Vision 2030, he added.

Digitization will be a key feature of the overhaul as Saudi Arabia seeks to improve services and facilities for pilgrims.

“The most important things are activating the structuring of systems and making them more flexible to help make the visitor’s journey rich and enjoyable,” Addas said.

Restructuring of the Umrah visa system has increased options for visitors, making it easier for them to visit, both directly and indirectly. Digitization played a key role in achieving this goal, he added.

Addas highlighted the commission's efforts in upgrading services in Makkah and outlined recent projects, including the Makkah bus project pilot operation due to be completed within months.

The project will deliver a major boost in public transport, as well as services provided to Makkah residents and visitors.

The commission also signed an agreement with Elm, a digital solutions provider, to create an integrated digital and logistical system for transport networks in the city.

Addas said that the agreement comes through the Unified Transport Center (Makkah Transport), which is coordinating planning efforts to provide the required capacity to meet the aspirations of the Saudi Vision 2030.

The agreement covers a number of projects, including an operation center to manage transportation movement, as well as services that will promote economic diversification in Makkah and its holy sites.

Elm CEO Abdulrahman Al-Jadhai said: “This agreement confirms Elm's interest in contributing to the development of the services in Makkah by harnessing its expertise and innovative capabilities in transportation to help facilitate the quality of life for beneficiaries,”

He said that the agreement focuses on the concept of "mobility as a service," which aims to increase the efficiency and capacity of the transport network, ensuring a smooth experience for all users.