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Riyadh suspends Saudi Binladen Group over Mecca crane tragedy

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
One of the offices of the Saudi Binladen Group in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (Wikimedia)

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has put sanctions on the Saudi Binladen Group over a construction crane crash incident in the holy city of Mecca that claimed the lives of over 100 pilgrims.   

Salman suspended the group from participating in new contracts and ordered the finance ministry to review the firm’s current contracts. According to the ruling, announced in a royal court statement on Tuesday, the group's senior executives and board members are barred from foreign travel until the investigation is complete and all legal cases are settled.

The firm "was in part responsible" for the tragedy, which occurred during a severe thunderstorm accompanied by violent winds, said a report by the committee that investigated the crash.

"The position of the crane was in violation of operating instructions prepared by the manufacturer," the Saudi Press Agency quoted the committee as saying.

Salman also ordered payments of $267,000 to the bereaved family members of each of the deceased and around half the amount to those of the injured people.

Muslim pilgrims sit in front of the crane that collapsed the day before at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia's holy Muslim city of Mecca on September 12, 2015. (AFP)

The construction crane fell on the holy city’s Grand Mosque on Friday and killed nearly 110 people and injured about 400 more. Accordion to figures released by Iran's Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization, 11 Iranian pilgrims are among the deceased and 32 of the injured are Iranian.

On Sunday, the speaker of Iran's parliament (Majlis), Ali Larijani, blamed Riyadh for its "negligence", stating that the Saudi government failed to take "appropriate measures" to save the lives of the Hajj pilgrims.

Damage caused by a collapsed crane is seen in the Grand Mosque in the Muslim holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, in this handout picture published on the Twitter account of the Directorate of the Saudi Civil Defense on September 11, 2015. (Reuters)

The company is run by the Bin Laden family, which has close ties with Saudi Arabia's ruling family. Known as the second largest construction company in the world after French firm Vinci Construction, the Jeddah-based conglomerate was founded in 1931 by Sheikh Mohammed bin Laden, the father of al-Qaeda’s slain leader Osama bin Laden. In the 1990s, Osama bin Laden was purportedly disowned by the family.

According to the website of the Saudi Binladen Group, it has worked on numerous important projects in the Kingdom, including al-Faisaliah tower in central Riyadh, King Abdullah Financial District, several universities, and the King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah.

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