11/14/2011

Makkah announcing to be becoming a Smart City… in 6 years

If you are a fan of Smart-Grid City competition, prepare to have your day brightened by these accelerating increase of smart city planning projects in the nearing future. Yet this Smart City project below deploys a clear and frank goal: facilitating the pilgrims' journey to the Mecca with the implementation of a sustainable and smart-grid system.

As the Smart City contest is open, Arab News reported on November 14th that Makkah just unveiled publicly its participation with a clear and frankly goal: " We will employ all kinds of modern technology to make Makkah smarter than any other smart city," as Prince Khaled told a press conference in Mina on Tuesday, the penultimate day of Haj 2011. But what does Prince Khaled mean with "smarter than any other smart city? and what kind of modern technology will the city use for this 'goal'? It remains unclear. Smart city is becoming an fashionable word for any new sustainable/technology-friendly city planning project. But in the case of Makkah confronting a massive displacement in the event of the Haj and Umrah pilgrimages, the ambition is clear: implementing realistic solutions to facilitate transport and offer best services for the pilgrims.

It is important to understand the reason behind this smart city project: the Haj and Umrah are essential pilgrimages. The Haj, one of the largest pilgrimages in the world, is the fifth pilar of Islam while the Umrah, which can be undertaken at any time of the year, is indeed called the 'minor pilgrimage' — the Haj being the 'major' pilgrimage — yet highly recommended. To respond to these important events supposes urgent measures for the pilgrims in order to prevent them from accidents during the journey.

We know few elements on this project. What we know is that the Grand Mosque will be central as the Prince added: (…) The King Abdullah Makkah Construction Project, which will take six years to complete according to my estimation, will provide Makkah with necessary services for the Haj and Umrah. The project"s infrastructure strategy will have the Grand Mosque as its focal point".

Another part of this city planning project, concerning precisely the Haj and Umrah services, will be the transport facilities: "The King Abdullah project envisages the transportation of pilgrims from the airport to the Grand Mosque area and to the holy sites and back. The project includes trains, buses and cars and pedestrian roads, and ring roads. The project will also be linked to the Madinah-Jeddah-Makkah train service and the Mashair Railway. Roads with reflectors will be built in Islamic and local architectural style. We intend to give Makkah a local Islamic identity and the project coincides with the expansion of the Grand Mosque area."

I can't wait to hear more about this Smart City of Makkah.

Source: Arab News.

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