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Saudi Arabian city offers solutions

2010. 9 August

A Saudi Arabian city attending the Shanghai World Expo hopes its experiences in preventing landslides could be shared in China where mudslides in Gansu Province on Sunday left nearly 130 people dead.

( The Tent City of Mina Pavilion, under Saudi Arabia Pavilion, presents its landslide-prevention solutions in the expo park's Urban Best Practices Area.

"We offer a proven solution to protect high-risk, densely populated cities from landslides. Hopefully, it can be spread through the Shanghai Expo and make more cities safer," said Long Chang, senior program manager with the Mina pavilion.

The landslide-prevention solutions from Mina consists of four parts:

-- Nail down large unstable rocks onto mountains with steel bars;

-- Build stone walls mid-hill to contain smaller falling rocks;

-- Build dams from 50 to 70 meters high to contain mud-rock flows;

-- Construct conduits that lead rushing water to a massive holding tank.

Mina, 5 kilometers to the east of Mecca, provides temporary accommodations for three million people on 2.9 square km during the annual Hajj Pilgrimage. The stretch of land is covered with white tents.

Lying in the steep and rocky Mina Valley, the cities had been constantly threatened by falling rocks and landslides. In addition, the valley's rain season coincides with the pilgrimage.

"The valley is usually dry. But it pours during the pilgrimage when the population is the densest, causing landslides and, for decades, prompted city builders to strive for greater safety," Long said.

Paintings and photos in the pavilion showed pilgrims gathered unprotected in the treacherous valley 180 years ago. Stone walls were built 50 years ago and now a complete mechanism had been put in place.