Millions of Muslims start to make their way to Mecca for Hajj.
It is essential for every able-bodied Muslim on this planet to perform the Hajj pilgrimage once in their lifetime. In the Islamic calendar’s final month, Muslims can seek redemption for their acts.
In 628 AD, Prophet Mohammed, along with 1,400 followers, was the first one to make the journey to Mecca. Today, it attracts the likes of millions of Muslims all over the world to perform the holy rituals.
Worshippers wear white garments while moving counter-clockwise around Kaaba. The iconic cube-like structure covered in black silk was constructed by the Old Testament’s Prophet Abraham. Located in Saudi Arabia, the officials of the country asked pilgrims to stay away from political conflicts and focus on worship. At present, there are high amounts of tension between Sunni Muslims in Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite Muslims in Iran.
The officials made it clear that Mecca is a place for Muslims to come together. According to authorities, 1.8 million pilgrims were already in the country two days before the start of the Hajj. Saudi Arabia handles the visa process to keep track of the pilgrims entering the country. With the help of technology, officials can manage all the people in Mecca. In 2016 they introduced electronic identification bracelets in response to a massive stampede in 2015 that killed or injured thousands of pilgrims.
To make the experience smoother for pilgrims, the country built a high-speed railway connecting Medina and Mecca. It is the first time they are using it for the Hajj, since its inauguration last year.
Every year, the country earns billions of dollars thanks to the worshippers spending on gifts, fees, transport, and lodging.
Mecca is the only holy site which allows men and women to pray together in the same place. Arab News will be covering this year’s Hajj with a special female-only team, for the first time. By 2020, Arab News plans on having an equal number of males and females in their newsroom.
— Aziz Faarah (@AzizFaarah) August 4, 2019
They also have an app with a feature which allows loved ones to keep track of the location of the pilgrims in real-time. Temperatures are expected to reach 104°F/40°C outside the Grand Mosque, so Arab News staff will also be distributing umbrellas to provide protection against the sun. They will be working with Makkah Health Affairs General Directorate, to ensure outpatients also receive these tools after visiting the hospital.