Saudi welcomes 1m for largest hajj pilgrimage since pandemic

Saudi welcomes 1m for largest hajj pilgrimage since pandemic
hajj AP.jpg


White-robed worshippers from internationally have packed the streets of Mecca as Islam’s holiest metropolis prepares to host the largest hajj pilgrimage for the reason that coronavirus pandemic.

Banners welcoming the trustworthy, together with the primary worldwide guests since 2019, festooned squares and alleys, whereas armed safety forces patrolled the traditional metropolis, birthplace of the Prophet Mohammed.

“That is pure pleasure,” Sudanese pilgrim Abdel Qader Kheder instructed AFP in Mecca, forward of the occasion anticipated to start out on Wednesday. “I nearly cannot consider I’m right here. I’m having fun with each second.”

A million individuals, together with 850,000 from overseas, are allowed at this yr’s hajj — a key pillar of Islam that each one able-bodied Muslims are required to carry out no less than as soon as — after two years of drastically curtailed numbers because of the pandemic.

Not less than 650,000 abroad pilgrims have arrived to this point in Saudi Arabia, the authorities mentioned Sunday.

In 2019, about 2.5 million individuals took half within the rituals, which embody circling the Kaaba, the imposing black dice at Mecca’s Grand Mosque, gathering at Mount Arafat and “stoning the satan” in Mina.

The next yr, foreigners had been barred and worshippers had been restricted to only 10,000, rising to 60,000 totally vaccinated Saudi residents and residents in 2021, to cease the hajj turning into a worldwide super-spreader.

A million vaccinated pilgrims beneath the age of 65 will attend the hajj beneath strict sanitary circumstances, with the Grand Mosque, the holiest website in Islam, scrubbed and disinfected 10 occasions a day.

The rituals have seen quite a few disasters, together with a 2015 stampede that killed as much as 2,300 individuals and a 1979 assault by tons of of gunmen that left 153 lifeless, based on the official toll.

Unaccompanied ladies

The pilgrimage, one of many 5 pillars of Islam, is a strong supply of status for the conservative desert kingdom and its de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who’s coming back from the diplomatic wilderness.

Days after the hajj, Prince Mohammed will welcome US President Joe Biden who, with oil costs despatched hovering by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has reneged on guarantees to show Saudi Arabia right into a “pariah” over the 2018 homicide of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi brokers.

The hajj, which prices no less than $5,000 per particular person, is a money-spinner for the world’s largest oil exporter, bringing in about $12 billion a yr together with different spiritual visits.

Additionally it is an opportunity to showcase a rustic that’s present process speedy transformation, whereas nonetheless drawing common complaints about human rights abuses and limits on private freedoms.

Saudi Arabia — which has beneath latest reforms permitted raves in Riyadh and mixed-gender seashores in Jeddah — now additionally permits ladies to attend the hajj unaccompanied by a male family member, a requirement that was dropped final yr.


Masks are now not obligatory in most enclosed areas in Saudi Arabia however they are going to be obligatory on the Grand Mosque. Pilgrims from overseas must submit a destructive PCR check end result.

The Grand Mosque shall be “washed 10 occasions a day… by greater than 4,000 female and male employees”, with greater than 130,000 litres (34,000 gallons) of disinfectant used every time, authorities mentioned.

For the reason that begin of the pandemic, Saudi Arabia has registered greater than 795,000 coronavirus circumstances, 9,000 of them deadly, in a inhabitants of about 34 million.

Except for Covid, one other problem is the scorching solar in one of many world’s hottest and driest areas, which is changing into much more excessive via the results of local weather change.

Though summer time has solely simply begun, temperatures have already topped 50 levels Celsius (122 Fahrenheit) in components of Saudi Arabia.

However for Iraqi pilgrim Ahmed Abdul-Hassan al-Fatlawi, the recent climate is the very last thing he thinks of when in Mecca.

“I’m 60 years previous, so it is regular if I get bodily drained due to the recent climate, however I’m in a state of serenity, and that is all that issues to me,” he instructed AFP.

Supply hyperlink


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *