A massive change for Mina in 30 years

MINA: SIRAJ WAHAB
Published — Monday 14 October 2013

The tent city of Mina remains deserted throughout the year. It comes to life only during the five days of each Haj season.

Situated 12 kilometers outside Makkah, it was in this city that Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) spent the night before he was set to carry out an order by God to slaughter his son. As Prophet Ibrahim prepared to slaughter Ismaeel, God instructed him to sacrifice a sheep instead. Muslims around the world slaughter sheep, cows and camels to feed the poor marking Prophet Ibrahim’s supreme sacrifice.

Mina is a small city located inside a valley. As far as the eye can see, tents cover every open space. They are neatly arranged, row after row. It is because of these ubiquitous tents that the city is referred to as the tent city.

In the last two years, the city underwent a massive change with the government investing billions of riyals into many infrastructural projects to ease the daunting and physically demanding rituals of the annual pilgrimage.

Those who came here 30 years ago or even 10 years ago can barely recognize Mina as it stands today.

Ahmed Muhammad Al-Haj, a Sudanese pilgrim, vividly remembers how the city looked in 1980.

“The one dominant structure in those days was Masjid Al-Qaif, in the center of Mina,” he said. “All pilgrims would come straight to the mosque from Makkah.”

It was here that Al-Haj made many friends from across the world. “There were Pakistanis, Indians, Malaysians, Americans, all of them,” he said. “The tents were there but they were in such massive numbers and they were not arranged with such meticulous precision. There was a lot of open space.”

The Jamarat Bridge, where pilgrims carry out the symbolic ritual of stoning Satan, was more like a small pedestrian footbridge. “There was a ground floor and a first floor; it was very small, but quite sufficient for the number of Hajis who came in those days,” said Al-Haj. “As the number of pilgrims swelled into millions in later years, the bridge became a death trap.”

Maulana Maqbool Rahmani, from India, is performing Haj after a gap of nearly 17 years. He was here in 1997. “We call that the year of the blaze,” he said, referring to the massive fire that swept through the tent city killing nearly 350 pilgrims. “I was among those who survived.”

Rahmani is full of appreciation for the Saudi authorities. “The very next year, the Saudi government started putting up high-tech fire-resistant tents throughout the city,” he said.

Each tent is made of fiberglass coated with Teflon and a heat-sensitive water sprinkler, which is linked to an alarm system, and electric lighting. That changed the face of Mina. The tents were organized in a scientific way.
After the fire, the government was faced with other daunting challenge; That of conducting an orderly ritual of stoning the Satan.

“That was the biggest challenge because tragedies at the Jamarat Bridge became a norm,” said Abrar Siddiqui, a Jeddah-based Haj operator. “It was a logistical nightmare for the authorities.”

read more HERE:
SOURCE: ARABNEWS

Categories: Arab World, Asia, Saudi Arabia

Tagged as: , , ,

1 reply

  1. No doubt the government has done commendable work to improve the infrastructure around most of the pressure points. However, few things still need attention. When I went for Hajj in 2010, one thing I noticed badly needing improvement was adequate toilet facilities. There were always huge line ups at the public wash rooms. Perhaps a dozen or more multi-story buildings spread around in Mina and Arfat with just toilet and wash rooms facilities will help ease this problem. Similarly they also need to build various cooling centers at various points to enable pilgrims take respite under the melting sun.This need will greatly increase as the Haj period slips back into summer months in the coming years.

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