Saudi Arabia warns of a hot Hajj this year with temperatures of 48°C

The meteorology authorities also forecast the probability of rainfall at 60 per cent

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Saudi Arabia has forecast an average high temperature of up to 48ºC in Makkah during the Hajj pilgrimage this month, according to meteorological services.

“The expected climate for Hajj this year is an increase in average temperatures of one and a half to two degrees above normal in Makkah and Madinah,” National Meteorology Centre chief Ayman Ghulam said on Tuesday.

He said afternoon temperatures could peak at 48ºC.

“We expect relative humidity of 25 per cent, and although we expect a low probability of rain during most days, there's some forecast of heavy rains in the high plains of Taif that may then make its way to the holy sites,” he said.

The meteorology services put the probability of rainfall during the Hajj season at 60 per cent.

The Hajj, which begins on June 14, is one of the five pillars of Islam and must be undertaken at least once by all Muslims who have the means to do so.

It involves a series of rites – much of which takes place outdoors in the holy sites of Makkah and its surroundings – completed over four days.

Last year more than 1.8 million Muslims took part in the Hajj, according to official figures.

More than 2,000 people suffered heat stress, according to Saudi authorities, after temperatures soared to 48ºC last year.

Officials in the kingdom take steps to try to mitigate the effects of heat, including providing air-conditioned tents and misting systems.

“There is a need for sufficient quantities of water to cover daily consumption as temperatures rise,” Mr Ghulam said.

He also said food for pilgrims should be transported in refrigerators so it does not spoil.

This year’s Hajj is expected to be the last to officially take place during the summer season in Saudi Arabia. The Hajj begins almost two weeks earlier each year due to Islam’s following of the lunar calendar which lasts 354 days.

Saudi Arabia began a cloud-seeding programme two years ago with the first batch of flights over the regions of Riyadh, Qassim and Hail to increase rainfall in the country, which does not exceed 100 millimetres a year.

Under Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 plan to reform the kingdom’s economy, 30 million pilgrims would take part in the Hajj and Umrah – a smaller, year-round pilgrimage. That would be an increase of more than 10 million from average annual numbers.

Updated: June 05, 2024, 12:49 PM