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Saudi women step up to command crowds during Hajj

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JEDDAH: More than 2,000 volunteers have been deployed around the holy sites in Makkah to help Hajj pilgrims with direction and guidance, according to the Saudi Arabian Scouts Association.

Every year from across the Kingdom, thousands of volunteers serve people during the Hajj season. Men and women, young and old, put their effort into helping pilgrims to achieve all that they want, providing everything they need to enhance their security, and enabling them to perform their rituals easily and conveniently.

Overseas pilgrims were welcomed by volunteers stationed in Makkah, Madinah, and Jeddah.

The Saudi Arabia Scout Association works with the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah to help pilgrims each year, assessing their needs, advising scouts on their roles and responsibilities, and working out where best to position scouts.

During his recent visit to camps at the holy sites, association vice chief Abdullah Al-Fahad said scouts and guides had recently conducted a survey in Mina and Arafat to collect field information on Hajj camps and identify major landmarks.

More than 60 scouts and scout leaders from Jeddah Education are also participating this year in receiving and serving pilgrims and facilitating their arrival at the Hajj and Umrah halls complex at King Abdulaziz International Airport as part of the Labbaik volunteer project initiative.

The director of student activities at Jeddah Education and chairman of the executive committee of the Labbaik project, Awad Al-Otaibi, said: “Those young scouts volunteer to provide the services needed by those coming to perform the Hajj rituals at the Hajj and Umrah halls, in cooperation with all government and private agencies operating and supporting them at the airport.”

Ali bin Salem Al-Omari, head of the scout activity department at Jeddah Education, said: “The participation of the Jeddah Education scouts is to receive, guide, and assist pilgrims arriving on international flights coming from different countries and direct them inside the halls to departure. They help the elderly, provide meals, distribute water, and everything the pilgrims need until they leave the airport and head to Makkah.”

Boy scouts at the scout center at the Ministry of Sport have also surveyed Mina to collect field information and identify landmarks so they can later carry out the process of helping lost people.

Muhammad Al-Suwailem, director-general of youth activities at the Ministry of Sport, said the ministry was honored to be one of the government sectors providing services to pilgrims at the holy sites.

Ahmed Al-Athwan, who is in charge of technical affairs at the association, said serving pilgrims was an honor, and scouts were honored to participate.

The commander of the Aziziyah camp, Abdulaziz Al-Rubai, expressed his happiness at the great honor of serving pilgrims and supporting government sectors in facilitating them.

He said such an occasion was an opportunity for them to show their efforts and reflect the image of Saudi youth who were committed to the teachings of their religion and preserving their country’s capabilities.

The main role of the scouts is to assist stranded pilgrims. They have undergone training in counseling and issuing guides and maps.

Scouts also help maintain a safe and healthy environment, monitoring street vendors and unlicensed shops, and other irregularities around the holy sites.

The association has also started supporting the Ministry of Health at hospitals and health centers in Makkah and the holy sites.

There are 400 scouts involved in organizing the entry of pilgrims and visitors, directing them to clinics, medical laboratories, and pharmacies, and guiding them to their destinations after leaving the hospitals and health centers.

Scout group leader Abdullah Al-Saharan said trained team members, including scouts, roving scouts, scout leaders, and girl scouts, had been stationed at nine hospitals and 11 health centers.

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