Saudi Arabia's General Presidency of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque is well-prepared for receiving large numbers of Hajj pilgrims for the final circumambulation – the Farewell Tawaf.
Worshippers entered the Grand Mosque in Makkah on the second day of the days of Tashreeq, travelling from Mina, south-east of the holy city, in large crowds.
Tashreeq refers to the three days that follow the day of Eid Al Adha.
Pilgrims from the kingdom were scheduled to perform the farewell circumambulation of the Kabaa, the sacred cube-shaped building at the centre of the Grand Mosque, on the 12th and 13th of Dhu Al Hijjah. The 14th has been reserved for international pilgrims.
Madinah has put in place all the necessary operational plans, in co-ordination with the relevant government agencies, to receive Hajj pilgrims who will arrive to the city to pray in the Prophet’s Mosque and visit prominent Islamic landmarks.
Muslims around the world celebrated Eid Al Adha on Wednesday, as pilgrims in Saudi Arabia began performing the final rituals of Hajj.
About 1.8 million pilgrims converged on the tent city of Mina on Monday. This is the largest Hajj since the coronavirus pandemic, that began in 2020, strictly reduced access to one of Islam’s five pillars.
The pilgrimage took place seamlessly without major incident, except for heat-related conditions as temperatures passed 40°C this week.
More than 6,500 cases of heat exhaustion have been recorded by the Ministry of Health.
Service with a smile
More than 7,600 volunteers – both men and women – have been providing healthcare services for pilgrims.
“We devote all our time and effort to help assist pilgrims during Hajj season,” Duaa Hashim, a volunteer told The National.
“This year was very hot, we were serving water bottles and umbrellas throughout the day,”
“It has been very tough on pilgrims in the heat and sun, we advise them to rest and avoid staying outside and to remain in the shade as much as possible. It is our privilege to care for them,” she said.
Ministry of Health spokesman Mohammed Al Abdali said it is coordinating and working with all sectors and Hajj related ministries, adding that 32,000 people are working for the ministry.
Private companies, such as Saudi Arabia's Almarai foods, also participated in Hajj. Saudi Scouts gave pilgrims cold drinks and refreshments to cool off in the summer heat in the holy sites.
The Saudi Red Crescent on Wednesday said more than 2,300 of its volunteers, both men and women, are working to provide emergency services to pilgrims at holy sites this year.
“It is an honour to serve the pilgrims. We have been on call and working every day to make sure they are rushed to hospital. There have been many cases of heatstroke as it is very hot, said Ammar Osamah, a Saudi paramedic.
“There are many young Saudi Scouts here which is great to see for the pilgrims arriving to the kingdom. They are giving away water as we reach the hottest temperatures in Hajj,” added Mr Osamah.
A great number of volunteers are under 25, said Khalid Alshareef, a Saudi Hajj guide from Jeddah.
“They are very passionate and want to serve the pilgrims who get lost from their group.”
Heartwarming images of security forces hugging older pilgrims providing them comfort and spraying them with refreshing water have gone viral on social media.
An Egyptian pilgrim Hadir Eldessouky said the security forces went out of their way to help pilgrims during Hajj, all the time “wearing a smile on their face”.
“This year we are working more than the last two years because of the increase in number of pilgrims from all over the world,” said Mr Alshareef.
“It is not easy for pilgrims who are feeling the heat, but we are trying our best to make them comfortable.”
The Health Ministry said that more than 215,000 pilgrims have been provided with medical treatment during Hajj.
“You can see young men and women taking care of pilgrims walking the hot ground in Mina and Arafat,” said Iman Ali, a local pilgrim.
“They helped spray water on my face and hands as well as pilgrims' heads to cool it down in the afternoon when the sun is at its peak.”
“They are doing a commendable job. We will always remember their warmth and generosity.”