President of the Islamic Development Bank Dr. Ahmad Muhammad Ali disclosed yesterday that meat from about 440,000 sheep and 8,000 camels and cows is expected to be distributed this year among the poor and needy in 27 Muslim countries in the Kingdom's sacrificial meat utilization program that IDB supervises. Dr. Muhammad Ali met yesterday with officials in charge of Hajj affairs at the embassies and consulates of Muslim countries in the Kingdom in order to brief them on the aims of the project that is carried out during the pilgrimage season under IDB's supervision. He referred to the fact that the Saudi government has spent more than SR 481 million (U.S. $ 128.3 million) to set up four dedicated slaughterhouses, and that 20,000 administrators, butchers, and veterinary doctors in addition to 600 students, are engaged in this project.
During the last Hajj season the meat from a total of 161,000 head of sheep and 7,850 heads of camels and cows was distributed within Saudi Arabia through charitable societies, while about 280,000 heads of sheep, camels and cows were distributed in 26 other countries under the direct supervision of the IDB.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health reported today that its preparations for the 1999 Hajj season have been completed within the framework of international health measures and well-studied plans prepared under the supervision of Health Minister and Chairman of the Hajj Committee Dr. Osama Ibn Abdulmajeed Shobokshi. There will be twenty-one fully-equipped hospitals operating in Makkah, Madinah and the holy sites, with a capacity of 7,103 beds. In addition, there will be 205 medical centers to serve the pilgrims.
Yesterday, Undersecretary for Pilgrimage Affairs Hatem Qadi announced that in order to avoid overcrowding at the Jamrat area in Mina, arrangements have been made with the Tawafa organizations for the stoning ritual to be performed by their pilgrims in groups at specified times. He stated that the success of the group system to be implemented this year depends on the cooperation of all pilgrims and Hajj missions. Electronic instruction boards will be installed on the Jamrat bridge to inform pilgrims in various languages on the situation in the area, and pilgrims will be urged to wait for some time if the area is crowded, and not proceed with the stoning until the crowd is less.
Undersecretary Qadi also drew attention to the need for all domestic agents to follow the instructions regarding Saudi pilgrims and to deal only with those who have received the special Hajj cards, adding that the newly-erected fireproof tents at Mina will be available to domestic pilgrims this season, on payment of a specific fee.