Saudi authorities launch operational plan for Hajj

This year's pilgrimage is limited to 60,000 Saudi nationals and residents

The operational plan for this year's Hajj pilgrimage was released in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday.

The Saudi Minister of Media, Dr Majid Al Qasabi, and head of the General Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques, Sheikh Abdulrahman Al Sudais, announced the details.

Dr Al Qasabi said the kingdom and its leadership were honoured to serve the Two Holy Mosques and the pilgrims for Hajj and Umrah.

He said that under the leadership of Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom "has enabled all concerned sectors to facilitate service to pilgrims, and use all capabilities to help pilgrims complete their Hajj obligation and rituals with security, safety, ease and health".

Dr Al Qasabi said that because of the coronavirus pandemic, Hajj was restricted to 60,000 people, all of them from within Saudi Arabia.

He said the decision was made to preserve the health and safety of pilgrims, and ensure that the Hajj rituals are held in a safe and healthy environment with precautionary measures.

This is the second year Saudi Arabia is organising Hajj amid exceptional circumstances because of the pandemic and emergence of new coronavirus strains.

Ten thousand qualified men and women have been trained to serve pilgrims during the Hajj in accordance with precautionary and preventive protocols.

“Saudi women have a great role in serving the pilgrims,” Sheikh Al Sudais said.

“Saudi women have a great role in serving the pilgrims.”
Sheikh Al-Sudais

The latest artificial intelligence techniques are being used to provide bottles of Zamzam water through robots and high-tech vehicles this year, to ensure pilgrims have chilled and sterilised water.

More than 800 manual and electric vehicles will be provided at the Grand Mosque in Makkah for elderly people and those with special needs, who can order them by app.

They will also have access to small prayer rooms and special toilets.

More than 5,000 workers will disinfect the whole Grand Mosque, its courtyards and surrounds 10 times a day, using more than 60,000 litres of the most advanced sanitiser “to ensure that the environment of the Grand Mosque is free of any viruses".

Robots and technology will also be used in the disinfection, and there will be hand sanitiser at all entrances, corridors and squares.

Sheikh Al Sudais said last year’s Hajj was a great success, streamlined by the efforts of many state agencies to avoid any incidents or Covid-19 cases.

He said that this year, hospitality and generosity towards pilgrims would again play a major role.

Sheikh Al Sudais said the campaign, titled Serving the Pilgrim and the Visitor, "was a badge of pride for us".

The programme, in its ninth year, will continue as the government plans to provide pilgrims with free extras including umbrellas, sterilisers and more this year.

Sheikh Al Sudais said the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah and other authorities will enable pilgrims to enter the Grand Mosque for the circumambulations of tawaf through several entrances.

He said Friday sermons in the Two Holy Mosques and the sermon on Arafat Day, will be translated into 10 languages for “nearly 100 million listeners".

The sermon on Arafat Day will be also broadcast in English and French by the two state-owned TV channels.

Updated: July 2nd 2021, 12:26 AM