MAKKAH – The Central Hajj Committee in Saudi Arabia is putting final touches on the ongoing preparations in the two holy cities of Makkah and Madinah to welcome millions of Muslim worshipers during the fasting holy month of Ramadan.
“As of May 6, a record number of 5.4 million pilgrims performed Umrah, and this figure is an increase of 195,000 pilgrims compared with the same in 2017,” Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, Emir of Makkah, advisor to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, and chairman of the Central Haj Committee announced during a meeting earlier this week, Saudi Gazette reported.
The Makkah Emirate, Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, mayoralties, Haram Security Forces Command, police, traffic, Civil Defense, and all other departments and agencies have swung into operation to offer the best ever services and facilities to the pilgrims and visitors to the Holy Mosques during Ramadan, which marks the peak annual Umrah season.
There are about 1,314 hotels, with total beds of over one million, readied to host the pilgrims. As many as 82 transport companies will arrange more than 25,000 trips to the Grand Mosque on a daily basis.
There will be shuttle services to transport as many as 40 million passengers to and from the Haram and various parts of the holy city for obligatory prayers as well as for performing Umrah during the holy month.
“Around 2,000 buses will be plying to transport eight million passengers thus reducing the number of small vehicles on all streets leading to the Haram. The authorities have arranged parking lots for 2.5 million vehicles at various spots in the holy city,” the meeting’s official statement announced.
As part of the Ramadan plan, the Haram presidency has come up with a comprehensive program to enlighten and guide the pilgrims and visitors to the Two Holy Mosques with regard to the performance of their rituals.
It will supervise the performance of imams, hiring of scholars to offer Islamic lectures and guidance classes, and distribution of copies of the Holy Qur’an, Islamic books, and leaflets.
The presidency is also in charge of total supervision of the cleaning and maintenance of the Holy Mosques and their courtyards, as well as spreading out of prayer rugs, providing Zamzam containers, surveillance and guarding of the gates of the mosques, provision of wheelchairs for the worshipers with special needs, and making available of golf carts for carrying elderly and disabled worshipers.
Ramadan is the holiest month in Islamic calendar. It is expected to start this year on Wednesday, May 16.
In Ramadan, adult Muslims, save the sick and those traveling, abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.
Muslims dedicate their time during the holy month to become closer to Allah through prayer, self-restraint, and good deeds.