Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

541 Women Hired to Oversee Female Visitors at the Two Holy Mosques | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Jeddah, Asharq Al-Awsat- The General Presidency for the Holy Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque Affairs in Saudi Arabia has assigned 541 female employees to the women’s personnel unit to work in five departments aimed at supervising women visiting the Holy Mosque.

Ahmed al Mansouri, Public Relations director of the General Presidency for the Holy Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque Affairs stated that this unit will work towards implementing the timetable set during the holy month of Ramadan this year.

He told Asharq Al-Awsat that nearly 330 female workers are aiming to raise awareness amongst female visitors to the Holy Mosque regarding Shariaa-related issues, and to prevent women from mixing with men as much as possible and guiding them to the correct prayer areas. They will also be responsible for monitoring and helping solve problems, supervising passageways and the circumambulation of the Kaaba.

Al Mansouri went on to say that nearly 101 women are employed to monitor women at entrance points to ensure they are not carrying food other than dates and coffee. Around 20 women maintain the cleanliness of prayer areas and toilets over two shifts.

Al Mansouri also explained that a group comprising of 10 women workers ensure that copies of the Holy Quran are on the bookshelves. Moreover, a group of around 20 women workers clean women’s prayer areas and prevent them from sitting or praying in the passageways.

Director of operations Zuhair bin Ahmed said that his department had completed maintenance before the pilgrimage season began. It involved seeing to ventilation, lighting, air-conditioning systems, and the maintenance of toilets around the mosque and of Zamzam water pumps and pipes. He told Asharq Al-Awsat that nearly 26 employees, as well as other temporary workers, carry out maintenance work around the clock. He pointed out that the department had set up sound, electric and mechanical systems all over the mosque and around it and had carried out maintenance work on the elevators both inside and outside of the mosque.

With regards to the services provided to Umrah pilgrims and visitors during this Ramadan, the department of services and maintenance at the Holy Mosque is supervising a project to increase the electrical current from 11 to 13.8 kilovolts, according to engineer Nabil Qotb who heads the department. He told Asharq Al-Awsat that the department is working towards supplying the mosque with cold water to cool the MV3 power plant, bringing in a new electric generator as a reserve, and installing microphones and lights in order to expand prayer areas.

Meanwhile, Aifan al Jaid, who heads the Zamzam water department at the Holy Mosque, told Asharq Al-Awsat that new Zamzam drinking fountains have been installed on the first and second floors, and in the northern parts of the mosque. He clarified that there are over 90 marble drinking fountains inside the Holy Mosque with around 1100 taps for Zamzam water. He added that there are around five marble drinking fountains with at least 100 taps and 38 fibreglass fountains with 228 taps outside the mosque. Al Jaid also estimated that the daily consumption of Zamzam water inside the Holy Mosque is around 1800 cubic meters and 270 cubic meters outside the mosque.

Aifan al Jaid explained that the Zamzam water department comprises of 72 employees, 43 of whom are employed for the pilgrimage season, as well as 630 workers who fill water containers inside the Holy Mosque and distribute around 3 million cups of Zamzam water a day.