(MENAFN - Arab News) Interior Minister Prince Ahmed yesterday highlighted the new 50-year plan for the comprehensive development of Makkah and the holy sites of Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah, saying it would bring about massive improvement in services to pilgrims.
Speaking to reporters after chairing a meeting of the Supreme Haj Committee in Jeddah, Prince Ahmed said the new plan would be completed in phases.
"A new study has been conducted for the development of Makkah and the holy sites. Its findings will be announced later," he said.
Part of the project would be implemented in the next 10 years. "Detailed studies have been conducted by experts to implement the project in the best way possible," he said.
Prince Ahmed added: "Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal has more details about the plan. It needs some more time to get a final picture. It includes construction of buildings on top of mountains and other places."
The minister said the committee discussed the reorganization of places and new development projects in the holy sites. It aims at creating more room in the holy sites to accommodate the growing number of Haj pilgrims.
"There are a number of ideas to increase the capacity of Mina. These include shifting of some government departments from Mina to other places," the minister explained.
He reiterated the committee's support to the central Haj committees in Makkah and Madinah, which are chaired by Prince Khaled and Madinah Gov. Prince Abdul Aziz bin Majed.
Prince Ahmed highlighted the Kingdom's longstanding experience in crowd management. All necessary arrangements have been made for the success of the emergency Islamic summit to be held in Makkah on Aug. 14-15. He called on Saudis, expatriates and pilgrims to cooperate with authorities to make the summit a big success.
The minister emphasized the need to follow the Haj rules and regulations set by the Kingdom for the successful management of the annual event. He called urged Saudis and expatriate workers not to proceed to holy places without obtaining valid Haj permits.
"Arrangements will be made for the early issuance of Haj permits. Those who do not get permits this year should wait for next year," Prince Ahmed said.
"Haj is incumbent only on those who are physically and financially fit. Unfortunately, many people perform Haj several times, and some of them do it every year. This is not acceptable," the minister said, adding that the government would take appropriate measures to stop violators of Haj regulations.
"I am optimistic that this year's Haj will be far better than previous years," Prince Ahmed said. He disclosed plans to improve the services of Mashair Railway, which has been playing an important role in facilitating transport of pilgrims between the holy sites.
Prince Ahmed said the Kingdom would not allow anybody to tamper with Haj security and exploit the annual pilgrimage to serve his/her vested interests.
Earlier, addressing the Supreme Haj Committee, Prince Ahmed emphasized the desire of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and Crown Prince Salman to provide quality services to the guests of God.