HomeDocumentaryAnalysisSpring, Winter Hajj season starts 2026, to last for 16 years ---...

Spring, Winter Hajj season starts 2026, to last for 16 years — Saudi Meteorological Center

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Hussein Al-Qahtani, spokesman of the Saudi National Meteorological Center (NMC), said on Tuesday that the annual pilgrimage of Hajj will enter a new phase of climate change during the year 2026. “The year 2026 will mark the beginning of the spring season for eight consecutive years, followed by another 8 years during which the Hajj pilgrimage will happen in the winter season,” he said.

Al-Qahtani said research will be intensified over the coming years concerning with the process of cloud seeding at the Holy Sites. Echoing the same view, Dr. Ayman Ghulam, CEO of NMC, revealed that the cloud seeding process in some areas and the Holy Sites depends on the results of research with regard to the scope of its necessity.

Dr. Ghulam opened NMC’s Media and Awareness Production Center in Mina on Tuesday. The center broadcasts daily weather bulletins and awareness and educational messages in five languages ​​through 12 media channels operating around the clock, with the aim of facilitating the movement of pilgrims and empowering the agencies working and supporting the Holy Sites.

READ ALSO: NAHCON raises concern over late Hajj registration by Tour Operators

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Ghulam said that cloud seeding is an operational and research process and the research is still being conducted on it, which will determine the need for it in other regions, including the Holy Sites. The operational phase of cloud seeding is currently limited to the regions of Riyadh, Al-Qassim, Hail, the southwestern regions, and Taif, he said.

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The cloud seeding technology works to increase the quantity and quality of rain for certain types of clouds in order to exploit its properties and stimulate and accelerate the process of rainfall on pre-defined areas. This is done through aircraft designated to seed fine materials that have no harm to the environment in specific places of clouds. It is one of the ways to contribute to maintaining the water balance, as it is a safe, flexible and inexpensive super technology.

Dr. Ghulam said that the regional centers of NMC would extend support during this year’s Hajj by working to provide studies and research related to climate, dust storms, and opportunities to improve weather. He noted that regional centers operate at the national, regional and international levels, and have a role in the Green Saudi Arabia and Green Middle East initiatives. He said that the center provides all services for air navigation and there is full coordination with the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) and airports, and all related to climate and weather changes.

The NMC chief stressed the readiness of the center’s operational work for the season through an integrated system of technologies and human and technical capabilities. He reviewed the expected weather condition at the Holy Sites during the Hajj days. He said that the forecasts indicate extremely hot weather, with expectations of active surface winds during the day, which may raise dust, especially on open areas and highways.

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Dr. Ghulam stated that forecasts indicate that wind speeds will generally be between 10 to 35 kilometers per hour, and their speed increases with the presence of thunderclouds, with maximum temperatures expected to range between 45 to 48 degrees Celsius, especially in the afternoon. “Despite the weak chances of rain falling on the Holy Sites, it is possible for thunderclouds to form on the Taif highlands, and it is not unlikely that their impact will extend to the Holy Sites, especially the active, fast-moving downdrafts that raise dirt and dust, and the potential humidity level may reach 60 percent,” he said.

Dr. Ayman Ghulam, CEO of National Meteorological Center, addressing a press conference in Makkah to brief on the NMC’s preparations for the Hajj of 2024. Saudi Gazette

Ghulam stated that NMC was keen to make early preparations for the Hajj season through an integrated system of technologies and human and technical capabilities, and to raise readiness according to an integrated executive plan to monitor the atmosphere around the clock in the Holy Sites, Madinah, airports, ports, and highways leading to them in accordance with the latest meteorology technologies and programs.

He said that the center held coordination meetings and workshops, the most recent of which was the workshop titled “Climate impact on this year’s Hajj Season” with the participation of more than 44 parties and agencies concerned with the Hajj operation. It also carried out the “Surveillance 4” exercise to enhance readiness and preparedness to confront severe weather phenomena and test the mechanism of reporting and ensuring clarity that information reaches beneficiaries in a timely manner during this year’s Hajj season.

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“The NMC sought to provide all meteorological technologies at the Holy Sites in order to achieve the highest degree of accuracy in the data issued by it. The center worked to increase the number of automatic stations in the Holy Sites and the Central Haram Area of ​​the Two Holy Mosques, and the roads leading to them this year, to reach 33 fixed and mobile automatic stations, as well as the populated stations in Mina and Arafat to operate around the clock.”

Dr. Ghulam also pointed out that the NMC operates a mobile radar to monitor the skies of the Holy Sites and the Grand Mosque in Makkah as well as mobile stations to monitor the upper layers of the atmosphere. This is in addition to direct satellite images to monitor potential weather phenomena, besides activating an operations room equipped with all meteorological technologies, and high-quality means of communication linked to the relevant operating sectors to serve pilgrims at the center’s headquarters in Jeddah as well as in Mina.

Saudi Gazette

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