Saudi women are at the forefront of female crowd management during this year’s Hajj for the first time, as per the directives of the General President for the Affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Sudaia.
Nouf Qahl, the undersecretary for the Assistance Agency for Women’s Grouping and Crowds, told Arab News that the Kingdom has become a world leader in crowd management due to its handling of the annual pilgrimage, where millions of Muslims flock to Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj and Umrah.
“Crowd management is one of the most difficult management sciences that requires the (cooperation) of dozens of other administrative agencies of various services. The difficulty of crowd management lies in how to deal with crowds from different cultures, languages and behaviors,” she said.
Qahl said that her agency was founded at the beginning of this year and has around 130 female employees.
She said that its top objective, as part of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque, was to “facilitate pilgrims to perform all their rituals with ease and peace, and enrich their experience in the land of the Two Holy Mosques.”
Qahl added: “Our mission at the agency is to assist and smoothly lead women’s crowd to designated areas for women to pray and perform their rituals in a safe environment such as to ensure grouping (and leading) women coming for Umrah and Hajj to the Mataf to perform the circumambulation, to vacate the women’s prayer area after the prayers, and preparing to receive other groups of women around the clock. Working to serve pilgrims is a great honor that we take pride in.”
The agency is prepared to receive female pilgrims daily until 9 p.m. at the Grand Mosque in Makkah. Most women will come after the Asr prayer, to break their fast, and pray Maghrib and Isha.
“We will ensure the integration of efforts with the administrations concerned with crowd to complete the grouping phases for Tawaf Al-Ifadah and Tawaf Al-Wada,” she said.
Crowd management expert Akram Jan said that the Kingdom’s practitioners are playing a leading role in discovering and implementing the latest best international practices.
He added that Saudi Arabia has become a pioneer in organizing crowds. It has managed to provide the best services and facilities and ensure a smooth flow of movement in the circumambulation space around the Kaaba, its upper floors, roof, and all of the masa’s floors.
He noted that there are technological ways to analyze the crowds and determine the optimum numbers based on calculating the available space. This method is also used for organizing crowds in large squares in Europe. It calculates with high precision, allowing observers and analysts to predict the numbers.
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