In these days, of the last month of the Islamic calendar, millions of pilgrims are gathering around the tent city of Mina for the pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca (Makkah). The Hajj, as the pilgrimage is called, is not only a challenging performance for the pilgrim, but also a complex infrastructural and logistical challenge. This year around 2-3 million people have traveled to perform the holy rituals, and the number is expected to grow in the coming years. (To read more about the ritual itself have a look here).
At Expo 2010 in Shanghai the Tent City of Mina was one of 55 selected city pavilions in the ‘urban best practice’ area. The exhibition in the pavilion highlighted some of the challenges in providing temporary shelter for millions of people arriving in the same days and the distribution of the masses towards the Holy Mosque. To accommodate the visitors, Mina now has 40,000 air-conditioned tents, creating a city in what was previous a dessert valley. Other tasks are to provide food, where a high capacity slaughterhouse has been constructed, which is able to put down hundred thousands of cows during the period. Temperature is another issue and areas of special heat resistant tiles have been installed. Further the area is home to one of the world’s largest air-condition units.
Maybe the most interesting construction in Mina is the Jamarat Bridge. It is built to facilitate the movement of worshippers arriving from various directions. The bridge has 24 access routes and 11 gates linking it to the mountains from all directions. Currently there is 5 levels of the bridge, which can be extended to 12 in the future. The dimensions of the bridge are 100 meter in width and 800 length. The facilities of Mina are not only counting the bridge and tents, also a number of both pedestrian and vehicular tunnels have been drilled and escalators set up in order to distribute the vast amount of people.
To see more photos from Mina check this link.