HRH Prince Khalid Al-Faisal and Makkah Province

A STRATEGIC VISION FOR MAKKAH PROVINCE

By HRH Prince Khalid Al-Faisal, Governor of Makkah Province

Allah has chosen this blessed land for the creation of the Two Holy Mosques. This land had been and remains a centre of spirituality for Muslims and an inspiration for human thinking. The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz honoured me with the assignment of Governor of Makkah Al-Mukarramah province three years ago. My main focus has been to make Makkah one of the most modern and beautiful cities in the world as well creating an inspiring example for Arabs, Muslims and the entire world.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is living a thriving renaissance. The Royal Government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques works diligently to modernise Makkah as well as other areas, in order to bring them up to date technologically. Today we are working to achieve the goal of becoming among the leading societies in the world. To make this happen the Government has developed a five-year plan, which sets out its strategic vision for the region of Makkah as well as providing the necessary funds and resources. The strategy we are adopting focuses on human and urban development. Our strategy originates primarily from the Kaaba which is the basis of all development as the centre of Makkah and the quiblah of Muslims (direction to which they turn in their prayers five times a day).

The Makkah Province development and advancement project is being launched on basis of three references – the system of the provinces, the five-year plans of the Government and the regional planning and development for the province. Therefore it was necessary to put a work strategy and implement mechanisms that achieve the objectives of these references.

The strategy depends on several foundations, the most important of which is the Kaaba, as I mentioned before. We plan to elevate the development of the human being in the region in order to have a reputation of being “strong and honest” so that we would be able to raise the standard of service to the guests of Allah and to facilitate their stay in our country. The other important foundation is to make Makkah a honourable and inspiring model for the rest of Saudi Arabia, the Islamic world and the whole world. God willing.

The Makkah strategy also depends on a parallel and balanced sustainable development between the human being and the place on one hand and all the municipalities, cities and towns on the other. The success of the project is subject to the serious and effective partnership between the public and private sector, the role of which has to increase at this critical phase.

The strategy further depends on being in synch with the transitional period – from the third world to the first – that Saudi Arabia is going through in economic, social, scientific and construction fields. Hence, and based on these foundations, the strategy for the development and advancement for the region has four focal points: the human being, the place, the government sector, and the private sector.

With regard to the human being, the strategy aims to raise the quality of education and training; raise the standard of those working in “Hajj and Umrah services”; build positive concepts and directions in the human being and develop him socially; provide cultural, social, entertainment and sport services; and prepare young people of both genders and qualify them to bear responsibility, and empower those who qualify to be leaders in the public and private sectors.

As for the place, the strategy addresses several factors. It aims to provide sufficient, pure water sources, treat water leakage and waste, and connect water to the consumer; develop a comprehensive infrastructure system; raise the efficiency of medical services in quantity and quality; develop the public transport facilities; treat the unplanned neighbourhoods and turn them into model neighbourhoods; and protect, document and develop public lands and utilise them.

For the Government sector, the goal is to empower and activate the regional council and local councils to play their role; raise the level of government performance; and create an integrated co-ordination map for the role of the municipalities in economic activities.

And finally for the private sector, there are also several goals. The Makkah strategy aims to spread and activate the culture of social responsibility in individual and private sector institutions; activate the role of the private sector in the development of education and training; and enroll the private sector in the region’s development projects by no less than 40 per cent. It also aims to motivate the establishment of small and medium-size projects and develop them; promote Makkah as an international marketing brand; improve the investment environment in the Makkah region to become the best choice for investment.

The Makkah governorship is serious about implementing this strategy, starting at home with its own staff and organizational structure. Through a series of fast-outcome initiatives, such as establishing e-government, launching a campaign on proper behaviour towards hajjis and Umrah visitors, and improving the living conditions of people at unplanned neighbourhoods, we aim to elevate the performance of our staff and services.

A Campaign to promote dignified behaviour

In 2008 a media and public relations campaign was launched to influence the behaviour of employees working in Hajj and Umrah services, as well as the people in contact with the pilgrims and Umrah visitors, to instill in them the values an virtues of integrity, kindness and tolerance that seem to have diminished under the pressures of life today. The general goals of the annual campaign that begins with the Umrah season before Ramadan and continues until Hajj are to enable public and private sectors to provide the best serves to the guests of Allah. This is part of the Makkah strategy to achieve refined treatment of the Hajjis and Umrah guests and to emphasize to them the importance of following rules and regulations.

The operational objectives of the campaign are to achieve a balance between the number of pilgrims and the accommodation capacity of the Holy Sites of Hajj. A major problem that is faced by the authorities every year during the Umrah and Hajj season is those visitors who do not make arrangements for their residency and instead occupy the streets and areas in the Holy Sites. The campaign aims to eliminate this phenomenon which would result in reducing the pressure in Al-Haram (Grand Mosque of Makkah) and the Jamarat Bridge, as well as improve the overall level of cleanliness, transportation and other services.

The media campaign intends to showcase the civilised image of Hajj through direct relationship between the Hajj as a form of worship and the civilised behaviour of the hajjis and those working in Hajj. The campaign includes creating an interconnected communications programme from which several important messages are transmitted highlighting the constant development of the Holy Sites and of the Hajj organizing process. This represents one of the main priorities of Saudi Arabia throughout its history based on the significance of the event in addition to the responsibility and honour of patronising it. The campaign also serves to integrate the private sector, which is another objective of the Makkah strategy.

Under the slogan “Hajj is a ritual of worship and civilized behaviouor” the media campaign infuses a higher culture for serving Hajj and Umrah guests. The campaign is also aimed at Hajjis regarding the strict implementation of regulations preventing those without a Hajj licence and small vehicles carrying less than 25 passengers from entering the Holy Sites. This is to reduce congestion in the Holy Sites and on the roads thus improving traffic flow and allow for a smooth, comfortable Hajj process for the pilgrims and the service providers. Overall, the campaign inspires a general respect for the place, the human being and the rules.

In order to implement one of the fast-outcome initiatives as part of the Makkah strategy, which is the initiative of providing a dignified treatment of the Hajj and Umrah guests under the theme ‘Serving the guest of Allah is a privilege we are honoured with an academy for Hajj and Umrah is being established. The academy depends on establishing the hospitality principles of the Hajj and Umrah industry in the service providers through the co-operation of the private sector with a specialized international academy. Training courses would be offered to external Hajj delegations who would then offer these courses in their respective countries.

Makkah Award for Excellence

In line with the objective of motivating citizens to raise the level of their performance and quality of work and give credit to those who deserve it for serving the province The Makkah Award of Excellence was established in 2008. The award, organized by the Makkah Board of Culture, is to encourage creativity and innovation in serving the country and its citizens.

The award aims to increase competition and creativity by giving recognition in eight select fields. The categories are: Excellence for Hajj and Umrah services; Administrative Excellence; Economic Excellence; Cultural Excellence; Community Excellence; Architectural Excellence; Environmental Excellence; Environmental Excellence; Scientific and Technical Excellence. More categories could possibly be added in the future. A panel of specialized judges decides the winners.

The winners for 2009 and 2010 received their awards in grand ceremonies held in Jeddah acknowledging their contributions and outstanding achievements in the respective fields. Interestingly, in both years the winner for Scientific and Technical Excellence were women. The other winners were prominent figures that have served their community with their financial and social contributions and projects, enriched its culture and advances its prospects.

A non-stop workshop

Visitors to Makkah today will be impressed by the non-stop workshop of construction and development. We are building the place and not forgetting about building the human being at the same time because the cornerstone of any renaissance is the human element.

Our dream for Makkah is taking shape. It is not a mirage in the desert or an outlandish aspiration, but a real heart-pounding rhythm of progress seen and heard rising up from the sands.

Starting in Jeddah, the gateway to Makkah, at the arrival point of the airport the guests of Allah are guests in our homes, and Arabs are known for their hospitality and generosity. We are privileged and honoured to receive them and serve them to make their spiritual journey as comfortable and inspirational as possible.

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