One of the new Mashair Railway light-rail trains run in Mecca, the holiest city of Islam, in last November. The 11-mile (18-kilometer) railway transported some of the 2.8 million of pilgrims who travelled to Islamic holy sites during Hajj 2010 and it will transport millions during this Umrah season.
The train is open only to Saudi Arabians and other Persian Gulf-state nationals until the system becomes fully operational this year, according to the Associated Press.
Saudi officials hope the Chinese-built train—also called the Mecca Metro—will ease crowding among the roughly 2.5 million worshipers who make the Mecca pilgrimage in any given year, the AP reported.
Mr. Ossama al-Bar, Mecca Mayor , declared that as part of a ten-year modernization plan for the ancient city, the railway will be joined by modern communication technology, green initiatives, and other urban-planning improvements.
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