Updating Mecca to Handle the Hajj

Millions of religious pilgrims travel to Mecca in Saudi Arabia every year for the Hajj. Officials there have been updating the city to better handle the crowds.
November 19, 2010, 6am PST | Nate Berg
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NPR talks with the Guardian's religious affairs correspondent about the civic projects underway and already completed in the city.

"Riazat Butt: Well, they've actually completed a mass transit system. And that will shuttle people between these key locations. And the idea is to take 72,000 people an hour in each direction to relieve some of the congestion on the road, because you've got two and a half, maybe three million people. There's no concept of personal space. There's no concept of privacy. You probably won't eat properly either or sleep properly.

As for the Saudi government, you're right. They are doing what they can to modernize the Hajj. The mass transit system is one of them. They're also building a 440 kilometer rail link between the two holy cities, Mecca and Medina. Now, currently, that journey takes four or five hours. They want to reduce it to 30 minutes."

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Published on Tuesday, November 16, 2010 in NPR
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