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July 25, 2010

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Saudi staff to cut waiting time

THE Saudi Arabia Pavilion is to follow the China Pavilion's example and hand out reservation tickets at Expo entrances to cut down waiting times to 90 minutes from the current more than five hours.

The pavilion was talking to Expo officials about allowing staff to distribute more than 1,000 reserved tickets at entrances, Abdulrahman Al Shaikh, Saudi's commissioner general to the Expo, said.

The tickets would be distributed at different times throughout the day to avoid visitors queueing up at entrances overnight to get tickets, he said. The pavilion can cater for up to 25,000 visitors each day.

The pavilion will also increase the number of the cards to about 200 a day that allow visitors to enter the Saudi Arabia Pavilion without a wait after visiting the Tent City of Mina in Puxi's Urban Best Practices Area. The pavilion began issuing the cards to encourage more visitors to the Mina exhibition, but stopped early this month after scalpers were found selling the tickets to visitors for around 400 yuan (US$58.96).

The Mina Pavilion had been issuing 180 cards a day and was still in discussions about when to restart, Long Chang, senior operator of the tent pavilion said.

The Mina Pavilion tells how the Saudi city near Mecca provides accommodation for up to 3 million pilgrims over a three-day period each year.

The pavilion promised to cut waiting times down to 90 minutes at the beginning of the Expo and has been sparing no efforts to achieve that, though the enthusiasm of visitors has exceeded all expectations, the commissioner general said.

Inside the pavilion, visitors can watch a 15-minute movie about the Middle Eastern country on a 360-degree, 1,600-square-meter screen, said to be the world's largest theater.

They can also climb to a rooftop oasis, complete with dozens of palm trees and a traditional Bedouin tent.

Meanwhile, the Saudi pavilion is also planning to provide free cold drinks to visitors to make them more comfortable while waiting in the queue, Shaikh said.


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