With the COVID-era restrictions on pilgrims no longer in place, the Hajj pilgrimage this year, according to the Saudi authorities, is expected to be an ‘exceptional’ and ‘safe’ hajj, expecting more than 2 million pilgrims.
“All preparations bode well. We are optimistic about this Hajj season,” Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, head of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, told the state-run Al-Ekhbariya television channel, Anadolu Agency reporte
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Hajj is an important event in the Islamic calendar as millions of Muslims gather every year in Saudi Arabia city of Makkah to perform the life-time journey.
In 2019, more than 2.4 million people took part in hajj. However, in 2020, amid the coronavirus lockdowns, the Kingdom drastically curtailed the hajj with as few as 1,000 residents of Saudi Arabia permitted to take part.
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In 2021, the number increased to 60,000 residents of Saudi Arabia, and last year, nearly 900,000 pilgrims performed hajj.
In 2022, over 899,999 Muslim pilgrims visited Saudi Arabia to perform the Hajj pilgrimage, according to official figures.
The lower part of the kiswah, the black cloth covering the Ka`bah in Makkah, has been raised about three meters and the area beneath has been covered with white cotton fabric.
Sultan Al-Qurashi, assistant to the president general for the affairs of the King Abdulaziz Complex for Holy Kaaba Kiswa, exhibitions, engineering, technical, and operational affairs, said that “raising the lower part of the kiswah serves to preserve its cleanliness and (integrity) and preventing tampering.”
He added that the kiswah is also raised to prevent some pilgrims’ practices “based on false beliefs.”
The ‘Kiswah’ is woven from pure silk and embellished by gold-plated thread illustrating verses from the Qur’an. It is classified as a work of Islamic art produced by top-skilled craftsmen.