Hajj will always be an ever-improving experience for pilgrims

That the spiritual season has ended without incident is testament to Riyadh's devotion to ensuring pilgrims are safe and comfortable

TOPSHOT - An aerial view shows Muslim pilgrims circumambulating the Kaaba, Islam's holiest shrine, at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia's holy city of Mecca on September 3, 2017, during the annual Hajj pilgrimage. / AFP PHOTO / BANDAR ALDANDANI
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Another Hajj season has ended and with it almost 2 million pilgrims have departed after completing their pilgrimage. The numbers only serve to emphasise what an extraordinary movement of people Hajj represents.

Perhaps, inevitably, especially given such a mass movement of humanity, some minor issues were reported. The Saudi ministry of health said more than 10,500 pilgrims received medical treatment at its four hospitals in Mina, while almost 28,000 were treated in 26 health centres across the region. The Saudi authorities were well prepared, staffing 100 ambulance centres in total. In addition, the kingdom's 911 Makkah call centre was staffed with multi-lingual staff.


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With a staggering average of 107,000 pilgrims every hour circumambulating the House of God, 100,000 security personnel were deployed at the site. Little wonder then that Hajj concluded so smoothly.

All this was supplemented by the fact that more than 208,000 residents without Hajj permits were successfully turned away at the borders of Makkah, which has been an issue in the past that has contributed to overcrowding. The Hajj season this year was also declared epidemic-free. In addition, rigorous clean-up operations have been introduced, as well as measures to make the heat bearable through setting up cooling systems.

At the end of the Hajj season, the governor of Makkah province, prince Khalid Al Faisal, asked the global media to convey a message from the millions who attended Hajj that Islam is a religion of peace, love and tolerance, and reiterated Riyadh's categorical rejection of exploiting Hajj for any purpose other than worship and unity.

Indeed, efforts to politicise the Hajj have been in vain, and with good reason. The systems in place left little to chance.

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