| 17 April 2024, Wednesday |

Saudi Crown Prince arrives in Mina to supervise services to Hajj Pilgrims

On behalf of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince and Prime Minister, arrived in Mina on Tuesday to check on the services provided to the Hajj pilgrims and make sure they perform rituals with ease, comfortably and safely.

Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims prayed at Mount Arafat in searing heat on Tuesday at the height of an annual Hajj held in the fierce Saudi Arabian summer.

Worshippers crowded the rocky rise and surrounding area from before dawn and when the sun appeared, it revealed vast numbers of white-robed worshippers thronging the sacred site.

The ritual is the high point of the annual pilgrimage, one of the five pillars of Islam, that officials say could be the biggest on record after three years of Covid restrictions.

High temperatures have been a constant challenge for the pilgrims, who come from around the world, and the mercury hit 44 degrees Celsius (111 degrees Fahrenheit) before midday on the Hajj’s most physically demanding day.

Tree-shaped water towers sprayed cooling showers on the visitors, and free water bottles and snacks were handed out from large trucks.

Six field hospitals with more than 300 beds have been arranged in Arafat, Yasser Bair, a Saudi defense ministry official, told the state-run Al-Ekhbariya TV.

The pilgrims pray all day at Arafat, where the Prophet Mohammed gave his final sermon. After sunset, they will travel the short distance to Muzdalifah, where they will sleep in the open air.

On Wednesday, they will gather pebbles and hurl them at three giant concrete walls in the symbolic “stoning of the devil” ritual.

Then they will return to Makkah’s Grand Mosque — Islam’s holiest site — for a final circumambulation of the Kaaba.

After three years of Covid restrictions, a record number of more than 2.5 million pilgrims were expected to join this year’s Hajj, one of the world’s largest religious gatherings.

  • Asharq Al-Awsat