THE ANNUAL HAJJ PILGRIMAGE BEGINS IN SAUDI ARABIA AS COVID-19 SCALES DOWN THE HUGE NUMBER OF PILGRIMS

1924

BY OSMAN HUSSEIN ALI

The annual Hajj pilgrimage performed by Muslims from around the world has begun in Saudi Arabia and this time the number of pilgrims performing the Hajj Pilgrimage has been dramatically scaled down owing to the Coronavirus global pandemic

International visitors have been banned from making the journey to Mecca, to try to curb the COVID-19 pandemic. Only 10,000 pilgrims are expected, as opposed to about two million usually.

The vast majority normally come from abroad, but this year the only foreigners allowed to attend are those who reside in the kingdom. Many travel firms faces struggle amid the pilgrimage ban. Those taking part in this year’s Hajj Pilgrimaje were subjected to temperature checks and virus tests as they began arriving in Mecca at the weekend.

Worshippers will also have to be quarantined before and after the pilgrimage. Face masks will be mandatory at all times.

The kingdom has recorded more than 270,000 cases with nearly 3,000 deaths, one of the largest outbreaks in the Middle East.

The country only lifted a nationwide lockdown last month. Tough restrictions to tackle the spread of infections came into force in March, including 24-hour curfews in most towns and cities.

Making the pilgrimage at least once in life  is one of the Five Pillars of Islam – the five obligations that every Muslim has to mandatory follow, according to Islam religion.

Pilgrims gather in Mecca to stand before the structure known as the Kaaba, praising Allah  together. They perform other acts of worship too, renewing their sense of purpose in the world.