Saudi Expects 2 Million Pilgrims This Hajj

JEDDAH – Saudi Arabia expects to receive around 2 million pilgrims for this Hajj season, including 1.7 million foreigners, Al Hayat local newspaper reported on Sunday.

Last year more than 1.8 million performed Hajj and most of them were foreigners, while the Ministry of Hajj will assign more than 95,000 employees, in addition to volunteers to handle Hajj-related tasks.

Health ministry announced that all pilgrims attending the Hajj pilgrimage are so far free from epidemic and quarantine diseases.

The ministry said they are taking preventative policies as a priority, and coordinating with the World Health Organization and other international authorities to ensure there is no epidemic outbreak.

The ministry also announced the implementation of 3.3 million US dollar Hajj-related medical facilities and services.

Muslims from around the world pour to Makkah every year to perform hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam.

Hajj consists of several rites, which are meant to symbolize the essential concepts of the Islamic faith, and to commemorate the trials of Prophet Abraham and his family, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon them.

Every able-bodied adult Muslim who can financially afford the trip must perform hajj at least once in a lifetime.

In November 2009, Riyadh completed a five-story hi-tech Jamarat Bridge to ensure a smooth flow of millions of pilgrims during the pelting ritual of the annual hajj.

The bridge has 10 entrances and 12 exits over its four levels to allow the flow of 300,000 pilgrims per hour. It is also equipped with technology to help authorities intervene in case of any deadly stampedes during the stoning ritual.

Other projects were also constructed to expand the area on top of the holy Mount `Arafat, and develop the sewage and fire-fighting systems, in addition to upgrading health and transportation services.

The complex of Al-Masjid Al-Haram in Makkah covers 88.2 acres, which includes outdoor and indoor prayer spaces. It’s open 24 hours a day.