Saudi authorities raise lower part of Kaaba’s kiswa before Hajj

The complete changing of the cloth occurs on the ninth day of the Islamic month of Dhu Al Hijjah, the Day of Arafah

Powered by automated translation

The lower part of the Kaaba's kiswa – the black cloth that covers the holy site – has been raised in a traditional ritual ahead of the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

The Kaaba, at the centre of the Grand Mosque in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, is draped in the cloth, which is changed annually during Hajj.

It is made from silk with verses from the Quran – there is always an excerpt on Hajj – stitched in gold thread.

The raising of the lower part of the kiswa is a custom performed annually by Saudi authorities as part of Hajj preparations.

“As approved by the General Authority for the Care of the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, the exposed part was covered with a white cotton fabric, 2.5 metres wide and 54 metres long on all four sides,” authorities said in a report by the Saudi Press Agency.

Authorities in Makkah sent 36 specialised technical staff with the help of 10 cranes to raise and maintain the lower part of the covering.

The complete changing of the kiswa occurs on the Day of Arafah, the ninth day of the Islamic month of Dhu Al Hijjah. It is a key day in the Hajj pilgrimage when Muslims head to the plains of Arafat and spend the day in prayer.

After the old kiswah is removed, it is cut into small pieces that are given out to selected people and organisations.

Since 1962, the cloth has been produced at the Kiswah Al Kaaba factory in Makkah, owned and run by the Saudi government.

Hajj preparations

Authorities in Makkah on Thursday began limiting entry to the holy sites to those who have a valid permit to perform the Hajj. Those who previously had Umrah visas will not be allowed in until June 20.

The Saudi Ministry of Interior also announced that it will start imposing fines of 10,000 Saudi riyals ($2,666) on violators, including Saudi citizens, expatriates and visitors, who are caught entering Makkah without a Hajj permit from June 2 until June 20.

The Saudi Red Crescent Authority conducted a mock drill on Monday in collaboration with other relevant authorities in Madinah to assess their emergency preparedness.

Last year, nearly 1.8 million Muslims from around the world performed the Hajj, marking a return to pre-Covid numbers. Authorities are expanding the capacity to more than two million pilgrims this year.

Updated: May 23, 2024, 10:06 AM