ISLAMABAD - The Ministry of Haj and Umrah has completed its preparations to distribute precooked meals among a section of foreign pilgrims during the upcoming Haj season as part of a major move to improve services.

The decision was taken following a workshop attended by more than 600 Tawafa officials and representatives of domestic pilgrim service agencies, Saudi Gazette reported.

It will be considered as an international experiment to provide catering services to huge crowds of people. The workshop was held with the cooperation of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Institute for Haj Research at Umm Al-Qura University in Makkah.

In the initial stage the project will be implemented for 15 percent of foreign pilgrims, to be expanded further to cover 45 percent of pilgrims by 2020 with the support of a number of agencies including Makkah Municipality, Saudi Food and Drugs Authority and Tawafa organizations.

“This is an innovative initiative of the ministry to ensure welfare and well-being of Hajis,” said a senior ministry official.

The project also comes in line with the ministry’s efforts to extend better services to the pilgrims  who come from different parts of the Islamic world. He said the new project would not only ensure supply of quality and healthy food among the Hajis but also make sure the optimum use of resources. “We can reduce the use of water by 75 percent in this system compared to traditional kitchens,” he added.

The system will help save 18,000 square meters of land in the holy places, which were previously set aside to store foodstuffs. It will also contribute to reducing the number of recruitment visas during the Haj season by 80 percent for cooking and catering purposes.

“This system will also help us avoid 4,500 trips of food trucks to the holy places during the peak days of Haj and cut down garbage by 20 percent,” the official said.

The ministry has called upon food and catering experts to give their opinion on the matter to implement the project without mistakes. “We are committed to go ahead with the project inviting proposals from foreign Haj missions, pilgrims and the service providers,” the official said.