Rain forces pilgrims to flee Haj camp

UAE officials housed in a tent city at Mina were evacuated from their camp on Wednesday night in anticipation of heavy rains.

DUBAI // Officials from the UAE's Haj mission were evacuated from their camp in the tent city at Mina on Wednesday night, along with other pilgrims from the Emirates, in anticipation of heavy downpours.

They left the camp and relocated to the mission's headquarters in Mecca following bad weather in the area, the state news agency WAM reported yesterday. The relocation was carried out in line with emergency plans drawn up by the mission in co-ordination with Saudi authorities. WAM did not specify how many from the UAE opted to leave the Mina camp, a sprawling accommodation area outside Mecca.

Abdullah al Suwaidi, a pilgrim from Sharjah who was travelling with friends, was among those who decided to remain at the camp after what he described as a light rain on Wednesday night.

He was preparing for the final Haj rituals, including walking seven times around the Kaaba, Islam's most sacred site, yesterday. "Today is the last day and then we have to say goodbye to Mecca," he said. "I am very happy and I have felt much better every day of the Haj. Al hamdillah, I feel like there is nothing in my way now to stop me from completing the Haj."

Weather in Mecca improved yesterday, with temperatures in the mid-30s under mostly sunny skies. The pilgrimage is one of the five pillars of the Islamic faith.

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