Home / ANALYSIS / Otis's Jamaraat Bridge installation completes 10 years

Otis's Jamaraat Bridge installation completes 10 years

by Nikhil Pereira on Sep 11, 2017

Around 15 million pilgrims visit the Holy Site annually, FM is key for the entire duration. [Representation image only].
Around 15 million pilgrims visit the Holy Site annually, FM is key for the entire duration. [Representation image only].

Service and maintenance is essential to managing any facility, but when it’s for one of the world’s busiest and most holy places — the Jamaraat Bridge which is a key component during a pilgrim’s journey to Saudi Arabia’s holy city of Makkah — the operations require high level expertise. The bridge was constructed in 1963, and a new one was built in 2007. Otis was involved in installing over 300 elevators and escalators — and vice president and managing director Maged Nagib sheds light on the project.

“Otis has played a significant role in the Jamaraat Bridge project ever since it was redeveloped into a four story structure during which elevators and escalators were added. The original bridge had only two levels, but ever-increasing numbers of pilgrims for Hajj forced the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to demolish the original structure in 2006 and start from scratch,” Najib tells fmME.

After all, the structure had to withstand two million pilgrims a year in 2005, up from 300,000 a year in the sixties. So, the redesign of the Jamaraat Bridge played a key role in making the Hajj journey safer for pilgrims. “For instance, the four-storey structure was scientifically designed to make the journey exponentially safer. 

Otis’ modern vertical transportation products have played a key role in ensuring this vision. Moving between the floors of the bridge is now carried out efficiently on Otis elevators and escalators, and emergencies can be handled efficiently using the helipad, or ambulance elevators,” Nagib notes.

Otis installed a total of 338 units which include 308 escalators. “Sure, 28 of those were installed in the 11 towers in the main bridge structure and 20 in the two external accesses to the bridge – the Sidki and Sabak links. The bridge was also equipped with six passenger elevators, two ambulance elevators and two helipad elevators. Each escalator can be used to transport pilgrims up or down in the structure depending on the flow of the crowd and guidance from the security force on the ground,” he adds.

The annual Hajj season sees a daily footfall of four million passengers on Otis’ escalators running 24 hours a day, Najib says. “Pilgrims also use the Makkah Metro to access the Jamaraat bridge — another project Otis has been part of,” he adds.

Service and maintenance is a key facet to ensure the facility can handle the millions of pilgrims on a yearly basis. Nagib says: “Our service team has a response time of two hours in normal season and an impressive five minute [response time] during Hajj. The logistics of the operations are remarkable considering the on-site service team is manned by 200 highly skilled employees during the season, all of whom are required to be Muslim.” 

Nagib adds that operations require organisation and deployment of a massive work force from all over the Kingdom, “who are skilled technically and can handle the intense work pressure”. He notes: “Proper planning and coordination is essential to satisfy 24x7 availability of on-site technicians. There is no margin for error and a swift contingency plan is essential to tackle any arising problem causing no major disturbances to the millions on pilgrimage.

“The Jamaraat Bridge is a landmark project for the company, along with the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, Burj Mohammed Bin Rashid in Abu Dhabi, and Sheikh Jaber Al Ahmed Cultural City in Kuwait, showcasing Otis’ abilities and commitment to innovation, safety, service and efficiency,” Nagib tells fmME

Along with those, Otis also holds the distinction of having supplied Dubai’s first modern elevators — when it installed the lift for the Bank of Oman in Dubai, in 1966. 

The first moving walkways and escalators were also installed by Otis at the Abu Dhabi International Airport in 1972.