During the Hajj season, pilgrims participate in the ritual of throwing stones at the three Jamarat over the course of three days known as Tashreeq. They start with the Small Jamarat, then the middle one, and finally the Great Jamarat. Pilgrims gather these stones from Mina or Muzdalifah, which are small pebbles. The amount of gravel used during the Hajj season is estimated to be several tons, depending on the number of pilgrims visiting the Sacred House of God.
What happens to the thrown Jamarat?
After being thrown by the pilgrims, these pebbles go through several stages. They settle at the bottom and are then collected, examined, and purified from any other materials.
At the bottom of the Jamarat Bridge, the collection process takes place. Gravel mechanisms are operated by large belts that pull the pebbles and gather them in the three Jamarat basins. Each basin is equipped with two systems that lift the thrown pebbles at different speeds. The system also includes automated doors that control the opening, closing, and path of the gravel, ensuring precise quantities. Additionally, sorting sensors are utilized to filter and separate the gravel from other objects.
Without the presence of a permanent transportation mechanism, the accumulation of pebbles would have formed a mountain. The automated lifting system plays a vital role in expediting the storage of stones in the bridge's basement facilities. Through electronic gates on the floors of the Jamarat Bridge, the system transfers the pebbles to the waiting compressor cars located at the facility’s depths.
Once the pilgrims complete the stoning rituals at the Jamarat, the process and mechanism of handling the stones commence on the first, second, and third days. The stones fall vertically downwards and settle in the facility’s basement, reaching a depth of 15 meters across the three pillars. Automatic belts collect the gravel thrown by the pilgrims, sifting and spraying it with water to eliminate dust and suspended impurities. Subsequently, the gravel is transported, stored, and processed after the season.
The Jamarat facility, costing over SAR4.2 billion, stands as a prominent project in Mina. With a capacity to accommodate 300,000 pilgrims per hour and future potential of serving 5 million pilgrims, it comprises 5 floors, each reaching a height of 12 meters. The facility offers comprehensive support services to enhance the convenience of pilgrims, including a ground tunnel for pedestrian transportation, effectively separating vehicular traffic.
Featuring 11 entrances and 12 exits in various directions, the project also incorporates a heliport for emergencies, underground tunnels, and an advanced cooling system that utilizes desert air conditioning. This cooling system disperses a mist over the pilgrims and surrounding areas, contributing to a temperature reduction of approximately 29 degrees Celsius.
The implementation of this project reflects the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's commitment to ensuring the security and safety of pilgrims visiting the Sacred House of God. It addresses previous risks and challenges encountered at the Jamarat area, mitigating the problems arising from overcrowding during the stoning ritual.
Since its establishment in 1974, the Jamarat Bridge has undergone several development projects. Its width has been expanded to 40 meters, allowing people to enter from the eastern and western sides, while descending from the upper floor near Jamarat al-Aqaba from the northern and southern sides for the convenience of pilgrims. The bridge's ongoing development efforts led to the construction of reinforced concrete ramps (houses) in 1978, extending to the second level of Jamarat on both sides of the bridge, opposite the small Jamarat.
In 1982, the bridge underwent another expansion, increasing its width to 20 meters and extending its length to 120 meters from the northern side following Al-Jamra Al-Sughra. Further expansions took place in 1987, with the width expanding to 80 meters and the length to 520 meters. The ramp was enlarged to 40 meters with a length of 300 meters, and five towers were constructed to provide services on both sides of the bridge. Additionally, directional signs, lighting, and ventilation systems were installed, covering a total area of 57,600 square meters.
The Jamarat Bridge entered a new phase of organization and development in 1995, implementing modifications that improved the visual representation of the bridge and the movement of pilgrims on it. Similar modifications took place in 2005, including structural changes to the bridge, transforming the shape of the basins from circular to oval, modifying the pillars, and establishing new emergency exits at Jamrat al-Aqaba. Informational signs were also installed to educate and alert pilgrims about potential crowding.
Due to the increasing number of pilgrims each year, a decision was made to demolish the bridge after the completion of the Hajj rituals in 2006. It was replaced with a new multi-story facility for the Jamarat, designed to accommodate larger numbers of pilgrims and ensure a safer and more secure flow during the stoning ritual.