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Heavy downpour in Mina two days before Haj

Monday October 22, 2012 10:44:03 PM, IINA

Makkah: Mina witnessed heavy rains Sunday, two days before pilgrims start descending on the tent city for Haj. Saudi authorities have already taken measures against flash floods.

Pilgrims have been arriving in droves in Makkah unfazed by events in Syria or elsewhere.


“I don’t expect pilgrims or the pilgrimage to be affected by what is taking place elsewhere, whether Syria or any other place,” Minister of Interior Prince Ahmad told reporters Saturday.


Thursday marks the high point of Haj when all pilgrims assemble in the Arafat plain, supplicating and seeking mercy from Allah.


“It’s my first time in Makkah for pilgrimage. I can’t wait to pray in Arafat,” said 32-year-old Koara Abdulrahman, a businessman from Burkina Faso.


Inside the Grand Mosque, scores of pilgrims continually circumambulate the Kaaba.


“Right now, I’ve got all the good feelings you can think of,” said an Iranian pilgrim, her voice quivering and tears welling up in her eyes.

Authorities said more than 1.6 million foreign pilgrims have already arrived and the numbers are set to grow by Wednesday.


Around 750,000 domestic pilgrims are also expected to take part in Haj. Every Muslim country has a Haj quota of 1,000 pilgrims per million inhabitants and the biggest contingent – 200,000 pilgrims – is coming from Indonesia.


The Saudi envoy to Lebanon said last week that the kingdom will also grant visas to Syrians in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan, where thousands of refugees who have fled the violence are being accommodated.

Prince Ahmad also warned that Riyadh will not allow the Haj to be “politicized.”


The authorities have deployed a 25,700-strong civil defense force with 6,600 vehicles and 19 helicopters for the safety and security of pilgrims.


Saudi authorities have also taken measures to deal with any epidemics that may break out during Haj. Some 20,000 health workers, 320 of them medical experts in rare specializations, have been mobilized to cope with any emergency and 80 large ambulances have been readied to transport patients between health facilities as well as 95 smaller ones.

Development projects worth more than SR1.1 billion have been implemented in the three holy sites of Mina, Muzdalifah and Mount Arafat.


About 2.2 million bottles of Zamzam, taken from a spring inside the Grand Mosque complex, will be distributed to the faithful this year. Three-hundred tons of Zamzam water will be supplied daily to the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah.

More than six million books, films, brochures and tapes will be handed out to pilgrims coming from inside the Kingdom, while 12 million copies of the Qur’an and similar handouts will be provided for those coming from abroad.


Media outlets using 32 different world languages will also provide information and guidelines for the pilgrims.


The Grand Mosque , which can accommodate more than 1.5 million worshippers, has seen its ground floor capacity increase this year to accommodate an additional 300,000 people and work is underway to further expand it.






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