Haj 2020: Downsized rituals begin, pilgrims to head to Arafat tomorrow

Abu Dhabi: Haj pilgrims will begin their holy journey to Mina today, Saudi media said.

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All of the pilgrims, who will perform this year’s Haj, have already arrived at the holy city of Mecca. The final batch of pilgrims were Saudi military personnel and medical practitioners who have recovered from the novel coronavirus.

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Security preparations are in place to protect the pilgrims, as are the precautions against the coronavirus.

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Head of the Haj security committee Khalid Al Harbi stressed that Saudi Arabia was fully prepared to organise the Haj and that it has enough experience to confront any developments.

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“It is not concerned about the weather, but the main danger that we are facing this year is the pandemic and how we can ensure the safety of the pilgrims as they perform their rituals smoothly,” he said.

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Saudi Arabia is among the countries that are most experienced in managing and protecting large crowds, he explained. There will never be any larger gathering of people than in the Haj.

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He revealed that authorities have already registered 14 violations of Haj regulations.The violators have since been fined.

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This year’s Haj will be held with very limited numbers due to the pandemic. It has been restricted to some 10,000 people, who are residents of Saudi Arabia, both citizens and foreigners. Pilgrims from some 160 nationalities will take part in the rituals.

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They will head to Mina today to mark the day of Tarwiyah. They will perform the noon, afternoon, sundown and night prayers at Mina, before heading to Arafat on Thursday. They will return to Mina on Friday and spend the night in Muzdalifah.

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On the day of Arafat, one of the holiest days of the year, they will head to the Arafat plain where they will spend the day in supplication and atonement for past sins. They will listen to the sermon at the Al Namrah mosque, perform the noon and afternoon prayers and remain there until sundown.

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They will then head to Muzdalifah where they will spend the night.

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