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For over 80 years, Saudi Arabia’s aqueducts have quenched pilgrims’ thirst

Annisa Essack |
27 June 2023 | 10:00 CAT

2 min read

Photo Credit: Arab News

For decades, aqueducts, or “asbilah” as they are known in Arabic, found along pilgrimage routes throughout Saudi Arabia have supplied water to pilgrim caravans crossing the Kingdom.

“Sabil” comes from the Arabic word “tasbil al-maa,” meaning distributing or pouring water. The construction of charitable water systems in the Arabian Peninsula originates in Islamic culture, emphasising the importance of providing water for others, especially pilgrims.

According to a report by the Saudi Press Agency, the free water points, which also serve as resting places, are located on the old road connecting Makkah and Jeddah and include Sabil Al-Hudaybiyah, Sabil Hada and Sabil Umm Al-Joud. They were renovated by King Abdulaziz in 1942.

The aqueducts, with openings for water distribution, were built using local materials and traditional designs in the style of ancient Islamic architecture.

The rectangular basins have pyramidal facades topped with the “Bismillah” inscription, which translates to “In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.”

The water supply to Sabil Al-Hudaybiyah comes from a canal connected to Al-Hudaybiyah well, about 300 meters away. Sabil Hidaa and Sabil Umm Al-Joud are supplied with water by neighbouring wells.

For this year’s Hajj season, the National Water Co. has strengthened its supply plans in the Shuaibah-Makkah water pipeline system.

The pumping station capacity was increased to 120% to pump an estimated 55.54 million cubic meters of water to Makkah during the Hajj season, including 22.31 million cubic meters to the holy city and its holy sites.

In addition, the operational storage in outlying areas of Makkah was increased to over 98%.

The Soqia Al-Maa Association, a non-profit organisation in Makkah, also announced that it would continue its program to provide 20 million bottles of cold drinking water to Umrah pilgrims and those heading to the Holy Kaaba throughout the year.

The association will also provide around 8 million bottles of water for the Soqia Al-Hajj program and eight refrigerators for pilgrims in Arafat and Muzdalifah.

More than three million people use the association’s drinking water facilities at the entrances to the Grand Mosque in Makkah.




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