MECCA, Saudi Arabia--(BUSINESS WIRE)--News often shed light on success stories of countries that managed crowds involving millions of people during events such as the World Cup, including Qatar, Russia, and Brazil, yet their task involved crowd control in at least 10 cities over the course of 29 days, a challenge that seems doable since most of the spectators fall within the younger age groups.
However, the situation is different at the host country of the biggest religious gathering on earth, Saudi Arabia, whose authorities have been running the Muslim Hajj pilgrimage for the past 100 years, and where numbers reach up to 3 million pilgrims from 193 countries, including senior citizens, people with disabilities, and children in an area measuring 33 km2 in only six days.
The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah administers a system of crowd management, under which dozens of other entities are operating to execute certain tasks such as regulating traffic flow at the holy sites in Mina, Mount Arafah, Muzdalifah, and the Grand Mosque of Mecca, by controlling the movement of pedestrians and vehicles, while providing basic services for pilgrims such as toilets, first aid, lighting, and ventilation.
Crowd management in Hajj is based on striking a balance between roads, residences, and transportation, while taking high-precision security precautions via using smart cameras, especially during the stoning of the devil ritual at Mina Valley over the course of three days in an area that does not exceed 5 km2.
The Saudi government overcame said challenge by building a 5-storey bridge that cost more than $1.120 billion, with a capacity of 300,000 pilgrims per hour. With a length of 950 meters and a width of 80 meters, the bridge’s foundations were designed to withstand future additional stories to accommodate more than 5 million pilgrims.
In terms of the transportation network, the Kingdom is running the eco-friendly Al Mashaaer Al Mugaddassah Metro, which was launched at an estimated cost of $1.75 billion to include a total of 17 trains with a capacity of 72,000 passengers per hour. Furthermore, 19,000 public transport buses ready to move 900,000 pilgrims will operate during the 2023 Hajj season, in addition to shuttle buses to transport 700,000 pilgrims via 37 routes over the course of 24 grouping operations.