The director general of Civil Defense on Wednesday said this year’s general emergency response plan in Makkah and Madinah will be successful.
With more than 10,000 men and 2,000 vehicles including nine helicopters, the forces are prepared for dealing with any emergency, Lt. Gen. Sa’ad bin Abdullah Al-Tuwaijri said.
Al-Tuwaijri was inspecting Civil Defense forces as they implemented the emergency response plan in Makkah.
He watched a demonstration involving a number of the new vehicles that will take part in the Umrah season for the first time, including a multipurpose unit that can be used for fire extinguishing, rescue and providing first aid.
There were others that dealt with accidents involving chemical or radiation leakage.
Al-Tuwaijri inspected field specialist teams and their vehicles.
The plan was approved by Minister of Interior Prince Ahmad and involves 18 government bodies.
It is largely developed in terms of deploying and stationing field units to reduce response times, said Al-Tuwaijri.
More than 2,000 paramedics were deployed to provide first aid to the sick and elderly inside and outside the Grand Mosque. New teams and temporary centers were created to cover all routes to Makkah and support forces there.
Al-Tuwaijri underlined the plan’s preventive measures including inspecting safety equipment and measures at more than 6,000 pilgrim accommodation buildings in Makkah and handle any violation that could pose a threat to safety or obstruct Civil Defense staff in case of emergencies.
The department also increased its awareness programs for pilgrims to help them avoid hazards through the use of signboards, leaflets and text messages among others.
He commended the level of cooperation and coordination between government bodies participating in the plan.
Makkah Prince Gov. Khaled Al-Faisal and Assistant Minister of Interior for Security Affairs Prince Muhammad bin Naif is supervising implementation of the plan.
With Ramadan beginning Friday, the Presidency of Meteorology and Environment (PME) said Wednesday that the holy month this year will witness the longest days and shortest nights of the year and temperatures of up to 48 degrees Celsius. In some regions of the Kingdom, temperatures could reach 50 degrees while maximum temperatures will be around 34 degrees in mountainous regions, Al-Madinah local daily reported.
According to the Umm Al-Qura Calendar, fasting time is 14 hours and 40 minutes on the first day of Ramadan. Fajr prayer time starts at 4.25 a.m. and Maghreb is at 7.05 p.m.
This means nighttime is only nine hours and 20 minutes.
The fasting month coincides with the period when the sun is perpendicular over the Arabian Peninsula in the Northern Hemisphere, resulting in the longest days and shortest nights, the PME said.
Normally, when the sun is over the Tropic of Cancer, the Northern Hemisphere experiences the longest day and shortest night. When it is over the Tropic of Capricorn, the Northern Hemisphere has its shortest day and longest night.
Coastal cities and regions including Jeddah will experience humidity that will intensify the soaring temperatures.
During the fasting month, the Kingdom’s summer resort cities such as Taif, Abha and Baha will experience pleasant weather, with minimum temperatures reaching around 16 degrees.
Recently PME denied reports that temperatures this summer could exceed 70 degrees.
The presidency was responding to reports that speculated temperatures might break existing records. Jeddah and many other Saudi cities experienced high temperatures during Ramadan in 2010.
The Ministry of Education is planning to open 500 Ramadan clubs in various cities and regions of the Kingdom during the month. It has allocated SR 20 million for the program, and each club will get SR 40,000, Al-Eqtisadiah daily reported quoting sources at the ministry.
These clubs will organize a wide variety of entertainment and sporting programs for children. These activities will start after Taraweeh prayers and will be held over a period of 19 days, four hours per day.
The venues for the club activities will be government school compounds in densely populated districts.
The ministry’s conditions stipulate that at least 70 percent of the activities will be sports and games while the rest are those related to community activities and entertainment.
The Ramadan clubs’ activities will be open to boys and girls free of charge. They are not allowed to charge even registration fees, the sources said.