Saudi authorities step up preparations for Hajj season

Staff and volunteers are being trained to maintain a high level of safety

Staff working during Hajj this year are taking safety courses to help pilgrims stay safe.

Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said on Tuesday on its website that all people working during the pilgrimage would be required to complete the modules.

It said Hajj was considered as a “social responsibility and honour” for employees and guides and that they were one of the “most important factors of success” during the season.

Preparations have been scaled down again this year owing to Covid-19, and the pandemic has created unique challenges for the ministry.

The online development courses aim to enhance the skills of Hajj workers and help them follow security and safety procedures to avoid accidents and injuries.

Hajj workers will receive certificates of approval once they pass all assessments with a minimum score of 60 per cent.

Similar training sessions were held in groups prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2019, Saudi Arabia’s Hajj staff training course was titled How to Set an Example and Make a Change and was held in a training centre in Jeddah.

This year, staff must complete two courses – Health and Safety for Hajj Workers and Serving the Pilgrims.

The modules will help them to communicate with one another and with pilgrims, and to manage challenging situations.

Saudi Arabia restricted Hajj to 60,000 vaccinated pilgrims living in the kingdom this year.

The Hajj ministry said residents of 120 nationalities had been chosen to perform the pilgrimage from more than 558,000 applicants.

Next week it will launch an awareness campaign to educate pilgrims about the precautions and instructions that must be followed before entering Makkah, to create a healthy environment for performing the rites of Hajj, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said.

Deputy Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr Abdul Fattah bin Suleiman Mashat said the environment during Hajj this year would ensure social distancing was maintained and that other health precautions would be observed throughout the pilgrimage.

The Haramian affairs, a Saudi government agency responsible for the holy sites of Masjid al Haram and Masjid an​ Nabawi, said they will allocate twenty entrances to the courtyard during this year's Hajj.

The Ministry of Transport has provided 3,000 passenger buses that will transport 20 pilgrims each, accompanied by a leader and a designated guide. The usual capacity of each bus is 50, but this year it has been restricted to 20.

The ministry has completed its inspection of tents and sites including Arafat, Muzdalifah and Mina, where pilgrims will stay during Hajj.

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah and Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development have made arrangements for hospitality for pilgrims with special needs to perform Hajj at the same pace as others. A designated area for their camps has been confirmed.

Updated: July 7th 2021, 6:38 AM