Courtesy: Saudi Gazette
MAKKAH — More than two million pilgrims from abroad and inside have assembled in Makkah to start their Haj rituals from tomorrow (Wednesday) with the grand ascent to Mina where they will stay for five days during which they will throw pebbles at the three Jamarat (huge pillars symbolizing the devil), slaughter their sacrificial animals and proceed to the Grand Mosque to do Tawaf Al-Ifadah. The pilgrims will early Thursday proceed to Arafat, a valley which is about nine km away from Makkah. They will stay there from morning to sunset at the Haj climax.
From Arafat, the pilgrims will proceed to Muzdalifah where they will pray Maghreb and Isha together and leave for Mina after midnight or early morning Friday, which is the Eid Al-Adha day.
According to health authorities, there are no epidemics or contagious diseases among the guests of God so far.
The authorities said as many as 357 pilgrims from various nationalities have been admitted to hospitals in Makkah.
They said, on improvement and recovery, the pilgrims will be discharged to do their Haj rituals but those who are still sick will be taken by ambulances to the holy sites to complete their pilgrimage.
The Health Ministry said so far 318 heart catheter operations were conducted in addition to 19 open-heart surgeries, 402 various surgeries and 1,155 kidney dialysis.
The ministry has prepared 48 beds in Mina Al-Wadi Hospital for the sunstroke and heat exhaustion. Meanwhile, the Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques has provided about 15,000 electric cars and wheelchairs for the old and pilgrims with special needs to use free of charge in the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet's Mosque in Madinah.
The presidency said the cars could be obtained at the western and eastern plazas of the Grand Mosque. This is in addition to a number of other cars and wheelchairs offered for rent.
On the other hand, the Ministry of Haj and Umrah announced that a total of 865,800 pilgrims have visited Madinah before the Haj to pay homage to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and pray in his mosque.
All the pilgrims have left Madinah for Makkah for the performance of the pilgrimage.
Many pilgrims prefer to visit Madinah before Haj especially those who arrive early in the Kingdom while others do this after the Haj is over.
According to a statistical report by the branch of the ministry until Sunday, there were 51,277 pilgrims still remaining in Madinah consisting of 16,478 pilgrims from Nigeria.
About 8,000 Saudi boy scouts are volunteering to serve the pilgrims providing them with direction and guidance. They are stationed in Makkah, Madinah, the holy sites, the Haj air terminals and the land and sea inlets.
Education Minister, Ahmed Al-Issa, who is the chairman of the society of the Saudi boy scouts, on Monday inspected their camps in the holy sites. He was accompanied by the chairman of the State Security Abdulaziz Al-Huwarini.