It was a done deal: China Railway Construction (CRC) had been awarded the construction of the metro rail project to transport pilgrims between Mecca and Mina.
As with any major infrastructure projects there tend to be surprises. For instance the monorail project has been transformed into a conventional steel-wheel, steel-rail design. More importantly though, CRC will have to deal with a peculiar challenge: Mecca is off-limits to non-Muslims.
The traditional business model for the Chinese overseas infrastructure projects rests on importing [cheap] Chinese labor. While hiring non-qualified labor shouldn’t pose too much of a problem, the trick will be, according to one of the contractors “to find qualified Muslim railway engineers to supervise the work – at least for the restricted area”.
Since there is no exception to the rule, this maybe the time to set up an engineering school in Xinjiang!