RIYADH: There are no epidemic outbreaks, diseases, or events threatening public health at Makkah’s Grand Mosque, a Saudi minister said in a health status update on Thursday.
Minister of Health Fahad Al-Jalajil said the health status among pilgrims and visitors is “reassuring.”
Al-Jalajil said hospitals and primary health care centers in Makkah are operational and are providing all ambulatory and medical services that pilgrims may need.
“The preventive plan prepared set for the Umrah season of Ramadan 2022 includes preventive measures, epidemiological examination procedures and response to infectious diseases,” he said.
During the first 20 days of Ramadan, more than 7,200 pilgrims visited hospitals in Makkah, and 36 emergency surgeries and 291 dialysis were performed.
The health ministry has recruited over 18,000 people to serve pilgrims and visitors to the Grand Mosque.
Al-Jalajil thanked King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for their unlimited support for all sectors operating during the Umrah season.
MAKKAH — Immunization is mandatory to accept the applications of people who wish to issue itikaf permits, Assistant Undersecretary for Guidance Affairs in the Two Holy Mosques Bader Al-Fraih confirmed.
Al-Fraih, during his meeting with Al-Ikhbariya channel, said that there are several requirements that must be met by the person who wants to apply for a itikaf permit, such as identity card and completion of vaccination doses against COVID-19.
Itikaf permits will not be issued to individuals if they do fulfill the set requirements, Al-Fraih said.
Itikaf permits have a validity date, and they last until the end of the last ten days of Ramadan, Al-Fraih said, stressing that the validity starts from the 21st of Ramadan until the night of Eid Al-Fitr.
The basement of King Fahd in the Grand Mosque has been designated for those who seek to perform the ritual itikaf only, as there will be no worshipers or pilgrims in it.
According to Al Yaum newspaper, nearly 500 permits and cards were prepared for those who will perform the itikaf in the Grand Mosque, Al-Fraih said.
He noted that the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques had provided dry meals, bags, and lockers to help them in everything they need so that they would not be occupied with anything other than worship.
It is noteworthy that the itikaf, the ritual of staying in a mosque solely for the purpose of worship and meditation, will be performed at the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah after a hiatus of two years due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Worshipers stood shoulder-to-shoulder in spiritual scenes after the end of social distancing measures for prayers and tawaf
Grand Mosque receives worshippers at full capacity post lifting of COVID-19 restrictions
RIYADH: Umrah travel operators in Riyadh have doubled the price of the pilgrim’s tour package from the regular price of SR110 ($30) to SR200 for each person, and this will triple in anticipation of a heavy rush during the Ramadan season.
This will further increase to SR300 during the Qiyam Al-Layl, the last ten days of the holy month, said tour operators in the Saudi capital.
“The huge rush was due to the holy month of Ramadan since most of the people want to spend these days in the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah,” a leading Umrah operator in the city told Arab News.
“The hike in the package prices is due to the rush of pilgrims during Ramadan,” said the operator. They also cited an increase in VAT to 15 percent as one of the reasons for soaring prices this year.
Umrah package prices rise every year during the month of Ramadan. Before the coronavirus pandemic, it used to increase up to SR200 till 2019. In 2020 and 2021, the rush was limited due to the COVID-19 restrictions, but with things back to normal this year the Umrah package prices soared up to SR300 due to the rush of pilgrims.
Over 3 million Saudi nationals and 3.4 million non-Saudis performed Umrah in 2021.
Worshipers and Umrah pilgrims returned to the courtyards of the Grand Mosque in Makkah in full capacity last month after Saudi authorities announced the lifting of COVID-19 precautionary measures and the return to normalcy in the Kingdom.
The General Presidency of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque has reactivated its operational plans for full-capacity worship, with its field teams removing social distancing stickers.
Worshipers stood shoulder-to-shoulder in spiritual scenes after the end of social distancing measures for prayers and tawaf.
These preparations by the General Presidency of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque came ahead of the holy month of Ramadan.
Mohammed Wakil Ahmed, a faculty member at King Saud University who went for Umrah with his family last Thursday, told Arab News: "The travel operators are now charging SR200 per person for a Thursday to Saturday Umrah trip as against SR100 to SR110 before the Ramadan season.”
The weekend packages for trips to Makkah and Madinah start at 4 p.m; from Riyadh on Thursday and finish at midnight on Saturday, he said.
He added that each family is given a large room, while single men must share a room with three other pilgrims.
There are about 100 Umrah travel operators spread throughout the capital, with a concentration of them in Hai Al-Wizarat and Batha districts.
Arab News went to various tour operators to check Umrah package prices. Anwar Badr Travel was charging SR250 for last week’s trip and SR300 for this week, Al-Saria said they charged SR230 for last week and SR280 to SR300 for this week, Al-Jiad travel said they charged SR190, SR230 for the weekend trip last week and SR280 for this week, while Al-Rushd travel charged SR250 for last week and SR300 for this week.
Rates tend not to vary greatly among Umrah tour operators in Riyadh. Buses leave from Hai Al-Wizarat and Batha districts with stops at the central bus terminal so that authorities can take a tally of the number of pilgrims.
During the journey, coaches stop at three points for Maghreb prayers, Isha prayers, and for dinner. Pilgrims change into their ihram at Meeqat in Taif, where they are given half an hour to don their ihrams at the Meeqat point, and they can perform Fajr prayers in the holy city of Makkah.
There are ample mosques, food outlets and boutiques along the routes from Riyadh to Makkah.
Flights from Riyadh to Jeddah are also filling up. According to a leading airline ticketing company in Riyadh, air ticket prices also spiked and ranged between SR1,500 to SR2000.
There are comparatively cheaper tickets for odd timings, but they too will total around SR1,000, operators said.
10 Umrah companies fined 50,000 riyals in Saudi Arabia
The firms were found guilty of violations related to housing and transportation services provided to pilgrims
The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has issued penalties against ten Umrah companies, in the amount of up to 50,000 Saudi riyals, for each company, for their failure and breach of the duties and statutory obligations provided to pilgrims, the most prominent of which were violations related to housing and transportation services.
In a statement issued on Monday, the ministry confirmed that it will not allow or tolerate any shortcoming that affects the service of the pilgrims, and that it is continuing to protect their rights with service providers, by continuing the work of monitoring tours on all service sites, and dealing with reports of pilgrims, in an effort to raise the level of quality of services provided.
The ministry called on all pilgrims from inside and outside the Kingdom to deal with establishments licensed by the competent authorities to organize trips, or to choose accommodation facilities and means of transport licensed by the concerned authorities, in order to preserve their rights and ensure that the service is provided to them.
Grand Mosque witnesses a huge influx of pilgrims and worshippers
April 26, 2022
MAKKAH — The Grand Mosque in Makkah witnessed on Monday the arrival of a large number of Umrah performers and worshippers. They came from everywhere and a large number of them wish to spend the rest of the last ten days of the blessed month of Ramadan in the holy precincts.
All areas, squares and roofs of the Grand Mosque were completely filled with the Umrah pilgrims and worshippers. SPA cameras documented the huge influx on Monday night. — SPA
Robots help Makkah Grand Mosque’s round-the-clock cleanup
MAKKAH: Saudi Arabia’s General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques is leaving no stone unturned in its efforts to clean and disinfect the Grand Mosque despite the Kingdom witnessing a steady decline in COVID-19 cases.
Mohammed Al-Jabri, under secretary-general for Agency of Services, Field Affairs and Environmental Protection, said that a range of preventive measures will ensure a healthy, safe environment for pilgrims to perform their rituals.
There is constant supervision of disinfection and sanitization operations, as well as transportation and other services provided at the gates of the Grand Mosque.
The mosque has 25,000 carpets, while around 4,000 male and female workers and 11 smart robots are employed to disinfect and sanitize the site around the clock.
Commenting on the cleaning machines, Al-Jabri said: “The agency uses more than 840 pieces of equipment and machines to purify and sanitize the Grand Mosque. It also follows up on environmental prevention and infection control operations by equipping several teams to sanitize all areas of the Grand Mosque, including outer courtyards, toilets, floors and carpets.”
He added: “There are 8,000 electric and ordinary golf carts to serve pilgrims, including 5,000 ordinary carts and nearly 3,000 electric carts, which are sanitized before and after use.”
To ensure a smooth and organized movement of pilgrims, the agency has assigned supervisors at each of the 150 doors of the Grand Mosque to receive worshippers, and guide them to prayer areas and different entry and exit points at the Haram.
11 smart robots are employed to disinfect and sanitize the site around the clock.
Security staff have also been stationed around the mosque to make sure that pilgrims are not disturbed by others indulging in prohibited activities, such as smoking, selling items or begging.
Al-Jabri said: “The agency has equipped the area with all the necessary services, including Zamzam water containers, air conditioning, cupboards for copies of the Qur’an, sound system, lighting systems, carpets, toilets, in addition to operating many escalators that transport worshippers and the elderly to all available floors.
“The agency’s employees supervise the entry and exit of worshipers, ensure their safety, direct them to the spaces designated for performing prayers, and organize walkways and corridors, with the participation of the competent authorities, according to the plans prepared in advance to facilitate the movement of those heading to the northern expansion with ease.”
Al-Jabri said that the agency distributes more than 2 million bottles of Zamzam water daily and more than 25,000 Zamzam containers are functional throughout the Grand Mosque, including 2,500 water stands in the northern expansion.
The agency also provides the funeral prayer area with sufficient amount of Zamzam water containers and supervises the distribution of Zamzam water bottles in the courtyard for pilgrims as well as ensuring that carts and containers are sanitized constantly.
More than 50 random samples are taken daily from different locations inside the Grand Mosque to ensure Zamzam water is safe for consumption.
The agency issued 2,000 permits to offer meals to worshippers inside the Grand Mosque and 70 for the mosque’s outer courtyards, Al-Jabri said.
This cannot be undone and I am sure it will be greatly appreciated.
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