HomeWORLDSaudi Prepares for Hajj as Pandemic Restrictions are Finally Lifted

Saudi Prepares for Hajj as Pandemic Restrictions are Finally Lifted

Worshippers adorned in plain white robes from across the world have gathered in the streets of Islam’s holiest city—Mecca. The city is preparing to host the biggest hajj pilgrimage since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Banners welcoming the faithful, including the first international visitors since 2019, decorated squares and alleys, while armed security forces patrolled the ancient city which is the birthplace of Prophet Muhammad.

“This is pure joy,” exclaimed Sudanese pilgrim Abdel Qader Kheder in Mecca, ahead of the event expected to start on Wednesday. “I almost can’t believe I am here. I am enjoying every moment.”

Hajj is a crucial pillar of Islam that all able-bodied Muslims are required to perform at least once. One million vaccinated pilgrims under the age of 65 will attend the hajj under strict sanitary conditions. The Grand Mosque, the holiest site in Islam, is scrubbed and disinfected 10 times a day.

At least 650,000 overseas pilgrims have arrived so far in Saudi Arabia, the authorities said Sunday.

In 2019, about 2.5 million people took part in the rituals, which include circling the Kaaba at Mecca’s Grand Mosque, gathering at Mount Arafat, and “stoning the devil” in Mina.

The next year, numbers were drastically curtailed as foreigners were rejected entry and worshippers dwindled down to just 10,000, increasing to 60,000 fully vaccinated Saudi citizens and residents last year in 2021. These precautions were necessary in order to stop the holy pilgrimage from turning into a global super-spreader.

The rituals have seen numerous disasters, including a 2015 stampede that killed about 2,300 people and a 1979 attack by hundreds of shooters that left 153 dead, according to the official toll.

The pilgrimage, one of the five pillars of Islam, is a powerful source of prestige for the conservative desert kingdom and its de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is returning from the diplomatic wilderness.

Despite promises of turning the powerful Middle Eastern country into a “pariah” after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents in 2018, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler, will welcome US President Joe Biden days after Hajj. Biden defaulted on his promises due to soaring oil prices after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The hajj, which costs at least $5,000 per person, brings in a large chunk of money for the world’s biggest oil exporter, bringing in about $12 billion a year along with other religious visits.

It is also a chance to showcase a country that is undergoing rapid transformation, while still drawing regular complaints about human rights abuses and limits on personal freedoms.

Must Read: Shark Attack in Red Sea Kills 2 Tourists

Keep watching our YouTube Channel ‘DNP INDIA’. Also, please subscribe and follow us on FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM, and TWITTER.

Enter Your Email To get daily Newsletter in your inbox

- Advertisement -

Latest Post

Latest News

- Advertisement -