Saudi Arabia completes preparations for Hajj

Makkah Governor will inspect the holy sites on Monday before the pilgrimage begins

Hajj authorities in Saudi Arabia have said preparations for this year's pilgrimage are complete.

Prince Khalid bin Faisal, Governor of Makkah province, handed over the new Kiswah to the Guardian of the Kaaba, Sheikh Saleh Al Shaiba, before the replacement ceremony.

The Kiswah is a piece of cloth draped over the Kaaba, the shrine at the centre of the Grand Mosque in Makkah, and is changed annually on the day of Arafat, which this year will fall on July 19.

Prince Khalid will inspect the holy sites of Hajj on Monday.

The authorities have conducted maintenance checks on all electronic equipment, including the central clock system, CCTV equipment, fire alarms and microphones, as well as all control and monitoring systems in the Grand Mosque.

The authorities said the kingdom was ready to receive pilgrims and two auxiliary agencies would be available to provide help to those participating in the event.

Hajj starts on July 18 and Eid Al Adha will be celebrated on July 20.

Saudi female officers from  the national security forces, register and check pilgrims at the Hajj Terminal at Jiddah airport, Saudi Arabia, Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019.  The annual Islamic pilgrimage draws millions of visitors each year, making it the largest yearly gathering of people in the world.  (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

This year Hajj was limited to 60,000 vaccinated people living in the kingdom to curb the spread of Covid-19.

The authorities have introduced Hajj smart cards and electronic bracelets to help guide pilgrims, who will also be provided with meals.

Hajj authorities will apply social distancing measures and health protocols this year.

Officials have shared the location of housing camps in Mina with those attending Hajj this year.

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said more than 1,700 buses had been equipped to transport pilgrims thanks to 68 transport companies.

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More than 1,700 buses have been equipped to transport pilgrims thanks to 68 transport companies
Ministry of Hajj and Umrah

Pilgrims will be received on July 17 to 18 through four centres in Makkah. Buses will be managed according to specific timetables and tracked using GPS.

An aerial view of Mina shows pilgrims walking around the Jamarat to throw pebbles at a stone pillar representing the devil, near the tents, during the Hajj on December 09, 2008. (Salah Malkawi/ The National)

The Saudi Red Crescent Authority has completed preparations for receiving pilgrims on July 18.

The authority said it would use “cutting edge technology” to provide efficient ambulance services during Hajj. A fleet comprising 144 ambulances, 22 motorcycles, 10 golf carts and two disaster-management vehicles will be available.

The authority said 549 medical staff, including emergency medical specialists and doctors, would work at 51 ambulance centres in Makkah, Mina, Muzdalifah and Arafat.

More than 300 volunteers have also been trained to deal with emergencies. Sixty-six per cent of the team are men and 34 per cent are women, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Ambulance services will be available throughout holy sites. Volunteers will help provide pilgrims with critical health information regarding the pandemic.

The authority's president, Dr Jalal Al Owaisi, said it put its "entire capabilities and efforts in action to serve pilgrims in this Hajj season to provide the best ambulatory services".

It has been preparing for Hajj since the end of last year’s pilgrimage and monitored “every positive and negative result that occurred in previous seasons” to ensure Hajj is celebrated safely this year.

Saudi police check for identities and special Hajj permittions and visas as Saudi authorities is stopping any unauthorized for Hajj to get into Makkah, at the Shumais checkpoint few kilometers out of Makkah, Saudi Arabia on December 04, 2008. (Salah Malkawi/ The National)
Saudi police check for identities and special Hajj permittions and visas as Saudi authorities is stopping any unauthorized for Hajj to get into Makkah, at the Shumais checkpoint few kilometers out of Makkah, Saudi Arabia on December 04, 2008. (Salah Malkawi/ The National)

The Saudi Interior Ministry said a fine of 10,000 riyals ($2,666) will be issued to anyone who tried to enter the Grand Mosque or holy sites in Mina, Muzdalifah and Mount Arafat without a permit during the pilgrimage.

On Sunday, Brig Gen Sami Al Shuwairekh, spokesman for the Hajj Security Forces Command, said three people were arrested for breaching Hajj rules and received fines of 10,000 riyals.

Twenty people were fined after being arrested on Friday.

Security personnel will patrol all roads leading to the central area around the Grand Mosque to ensure people follow the rules.

Updated: July 12th 2021, 8:19 AM
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