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Logistical Plan for Hajj 1442 and What to Expect at Masjidul Haram

Jul 13, 2021

In the first of Radio Islam’s daily segment, Hafidh Ebrahim Moosa began we begin the build up to the Hajj by explaining that the overall logistic plans for Hajj 1442 can be expected to again be in the context of COVID-19.  Saudi Arabia said that that the Hajj was going to be confined to people who are residents within Saudi Arabia, whether they have a Saudi background or are from an international background. Hafidh Ibrahim said that that was going to be a defining feature of the Hajj, as with Hajj 2020. He said, “The numbers, however, are going to be much, much bigger compared to last year.” There are to 60 000 pilgrims from about 120 countries. Hafidh Ibrahim said that for people to be able to perform the Hajj this year, it’s going to be a point of importance that they are vaccinated. He said, “There’s also an age bracket that people need to be a part of, which is, age 18 to 65.” All the Hajjis have been registered, and the 60 000 pilgrims have been granted Hajj permits. He said, “To a large extent these are pilgrims who have not previously performed Hajj.” Once given the permits, Hajjis are required to return to an inoculation centre to receive a second dose of a vaccination against COVID-19.

Once people settle into the process of Hajj, the facilities along the route to the reception centres, the transport stations, all of that are being prepared, as we understand. Once people actually enter into the transport system, there will be a health official accompanying every group of 20 people. They will monitor the protocols and also accompany them along the way. Hafidh Ibrahim said, “Like last year, there’s going to be electronic Hajj cards, that they will be carrying with them. It’s called the Sha’aair card – it integrates everything, such as access to hotels, to the camps, to public transport, and also if people get lost at any stage in the journey.” He added, “If one is to do the calculations, they said 60 000 pilgrims, so that’s going to be 3000 buses, and then that kind of works out to about 20 pilgrims per bus, accompanied by an official, so in broad brushstrokes we are talking about a very controlled Hajj due to COVID-19; we’re talking about the facilities being prepared and a strong electronic component to be able to streamline the entire process.”

So, while somewhat different to last year, a lot of preparations are still being put in place for this years Hajj. In terms of the Haram, changes will also be taking place. Hafidh Ibrahim said, “Contrasting this year to last year, as the world watched how Hajj was conducted last year, the Haram was used fairly minimally. So, people came at designated times, they were given a time bracket and they needed to go out. Therefore, only specified areas of the Haram were used.” He says that this year, because of the numbers, it will still be controlled, with time, and with groups at a time, “But because of increased numbers and more openness, 20 entrances of the Haram are going to be open for Hujjaaj.” Hafidh Ibrahim said that this year, after several years, significantly, the King Abdul Aziz gate is going to be opened. The gate had largely been off limits due to several years of renovations. The Umrah gate as well as other gates will also be open. Hafidh Ibrahim said that the mezzanine levels would also be open, so there would be much more usage of the Haram, with the escalators also going to be allowed. He said that the operational plan indicated that the external courtyards also open for usage by the Hujjaaj. Thousands of toilets, and thousands of ablution facilities are also going to be designated for usage. Hafidh Ibrahim said,” So, we’re going to see a sense of the Haram being used much more than it was last year.” He said that on the mataaf itself there are 25 tracks that have been marked out for the Hujjaaj to use for making tawaf, so those would be the main arena for the tawaaf to take place. The others are going to be used for salaah and so forth. The 25 tracks have been marked to facilitate, as was seen last year, the tawaf being performed according to the designated plan, with social distancing, as has been laid down by the Saudi authorities. The Hujjaaj will also be told which doors to enter and exit from, obviously in a coordinated fashion.

Coordination and communication had, last year, taken place through an application. The Sha’aair card links up with the app. Hafidh Ibrahim said that he believed that, “people haven’t been informed of the exact way that will pan out yet, but given the registration process having been so coordinated, and then the card being an extension of that, everything would go through that kind of mobile process, which was essentially the case last year.” He said, “It would just require a greater degree of coordination, and a greater level of volunteers to accompany these groups, because of the greater number of Hujjaaj.”

Umm Muhammed Umar

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