Pilgrims begin to arrive Holy City Mecca On Saturday, the second shrunken Hajj held during the coronavirus pandemic, wearing a mask, hovering in the most sacred place of Islam on a small road in the distance.
The kingdom allows only 60,000 fully vaccinated residents to participate, seeking to repeat last year’s success in the five-day ceremony that did not detect a virus outbreak.
This year’s Hajj selected participants by drawing lots. The scale is larger than the streamlined version of 2020, but much smaller than usual.
After being loaded on a bus and taken to the Great Mosque in Mecca, the pilgrims began to perform “tawaf”, a circumambulation of the Kaaba, which is a large cubic structure covered with golden embroidered black cloth. Muslims around the world All pray to it.
Many people bring umbrellas to protect themselves from the scorching summer.
Hisham al-Saeed, spokesperson for the Hajj Ministry, told AFP: “Every three hours, 6,000 people enter to perform the arrival ceremony.” “After each group leaves, a disinfection process will be carried out in the sanctuary.”
Hajj is usually one of the largest annual religious gatherings in the world. Approximately 2.5 million people attended in 2019. It is one of the five pillars of Islam. All Muslims must be able to participate at least once in their lives.
It consists of a series of religious ceremonies, which officially began on Sunday and completed in five days in the holiest city of Islam in western Saudi Arabia and its surrounding areas.
It follows the path taken by the Prophet Muhammad nearly 1,400 years ago, and is believed to eventually trace the footsteps of the Prophet Abraham and Ismail.
According to the Ministry of Hajj, the campaign was selected from more than 558,000 applicants through an online review system, and was limited to those who had been fully vaccinated and were between 18-65 years old and had no chronic diseases.
The pilgrims will be divided into groups of only 20 people, “to limit contact with only 20 people and thus limit the spread of infection,” Deputy Minister Mohammad al-Bijawi told state media.
“We were overjoyed,” said Ameen, a 58-year-old Indian oil contractor who lives in the eastern city of Dammam and was selected for the ceremony along with his wife and three adult children.
“Many of our friends and relatives have been rejected,” he told AFP.
Earlier this month, the Hajj Ministry stated that it is taking “the highest level of health precautions” in light of the pandemic and the emergence of new variants.
Like other countries in the Gulf, Saudi Arabia is home to a large foreign population from South Asia, the Far East, Africa and the Middle East.
“I think I won the lottery,” said Egyptian pharmacist Mohammed El Eter after being selected.
“This is a special and unforgettable moment in a person’s life. I thank God for giving me this opportunity and being accepted by many applicants,” the 31-year-old told AFP.
To date, Saudi Arabia has recorded more than 507,000 cases of coronavirus infections, with approximately 8,000 deaths.
In this country of more than 34 million people, more than 20 million doses of vaccine have been vaccinated.
The Hajj last year took place on the smallest scale in modern history. Authorities initially stated that only 1,000 pilgrims were allowed to participate, although local media said as many as 10,000 eventually participated.
Since the authorities have set up multiple health facilities, mobile clinics and ambulances to care for pilgrims in small batches to religious sites, no infections have been reported.