Today the 60,000 Muslim pilgrims, all citizens or residents of Saudi Arabia, gathered at Saudi Arabia’s Mount Arafat to perform Hajj.
After noon prayers, worshippers traditionally ascend the 70-metre (230-foot) high hill and its surrounding plain for hours of prayers and Quran recitals to atone for their sins, staying there until the evening. After sunset, they head to Muzdalifah, halfway between Arafat and Mina, where they will sleep under the stars before performing the symbolic “stoning of the devil”.
Numbers is limited to 60,000 people, all citizens or residents of Saudi Arabia, have been selected to take part in this year’s Hajj because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
- The scene was dramatically different from past pilgrimages, which have drawn up to 2.5 million people, and this year the mountain was free of the huge crowds that descend on it in normal years.
- The decision was taken in view of the global situation and the emergence of new mutations of the coronavirus, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said.
- The authorities did not specify how many foreign residents would be among the 60,000 pilgrims.
- Only people between the ages of 18 and 65 who have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior and are free of chronic diseases will be allowed to perform Hajj this year, the ministry said.
- The Ministry of Health said “those over the age of 65 are being prevented from performing Hajj this year in order to preserve their health during the ongoing pandemic”.
- New safety protocols, the ministry said, would be implemented in Hajj zones, based on age groups.
- Each pilgrim must carry vaccination certificates authorised by approved health institutes in their country of origin and provide a negative PCR test certificate issued by a recognised laboratory not more than 40 hours earlier.
- Foreign pilgrims will have to quarantine for three days on arrival.
- Authorities have specified procedures that must be followed at entry points within and before entering the country. These include verification of all health documents, including vaccination certificates, and visual screening procedures.