Pandemic hit to haj saddens would-be pilgrims

RIYADH (Reuters) - This year's haj will be a time of sadness for many Muslims around the world prevented from travelling to Saudi Arabia, but a decision to honour local health and security staff in the front line of the fight against the coronavirus has won praise. For the first time in the modern era, amidst efforts to curb COVID-19, Muslims from abroad will be unable to attend the pilgrimage. This year's event has been limited to about 1,000 pilgrims from within Saudi Arabia, 70% of whom will be foreign residents of the kingdom

Reuters July 23, 2020 00:13:13 IST
Pandemic hit to haj saddens would-be pilgrims

Pandemic hit to haj saddens wouldbe pilgrims

RIYADH (Reuters) - This year's haj will be a time of sadness for many Muslims around the world prevented from travelling to Saudi Arabia, but a decision to honour local health and security staff in the front line of the fight against the coronavirus has won praise.

For the first time in the modern era, amidst efforts to curb COVID-19 , Muslims from abroad will be unable to attend the pilgrimage.

This year's event has been limited to about 1,000 pilgrims from within Saudi Arabia, 70% of whom will be foreign residents of the kingdom. [nL8N2ED3VK]

The remaining 30% will be drawn from Saudi healthcare workers and security personnel who have recovered from the coronavirus , as a gesture of thanks for their sacrifice.

"Haj this year is for the heroes who saved the country and saved our people, they deserve it ... I personally would have loved to go but there are priorities," said Saudi citizen Nour al Ghamdi.

Those chosen will receive supplies including special ihram garments, toiletries, and a prayer rug in a suitcase from the Saudi haj ministry, as well as pre-arranged meals. They will be required to maintain social distancing.

Like many Muslims around the world, Egyptian Mahmoud Ali Mahmoud, 55, laments the restriction to domestic pilgrims.

"As you can see, I had everything prepared. Here is my Quran, my ihram clothing, my garment," he said, opening his packed suitcase.

"The time that one can spend there could be a time for us to pray that God rids the world of this pandemic," he said from his Cairo home.

Some 2.5 million Muslims typically visit the holiest sites of Islam in Mecca and Medina for the week-long pilgrimage, due to start on July 28. A once-in-a-lifetime duty for able-bodied Muslims who can afford the cost, it is usually extremely crowded.

Dhera Arizona, 31, had been saving up for seven years to travel to Mecca from Indonesia this year.

"We are disappointed and sad," she said, but "we understand that in this kind of pandemic situation, it is impossible to hold the worship service".

Official figures show that the haj and the year-round umrah pilgrimage earn the kingdom about $12 billion a year. Minimizing the event will hurt government finances, already hit by falling oil prices and the pandemic.

(Reporting by Marwa Rashad in Riyadh, Agustinus da Costa in Jakarta, Sayed Sheasha in Cairo, and Syed Raza Hassan in Karachi; Writing by Nafisa Eltahir; Editing by Giles Elgood)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

Global equities break record as U.S. stocks waver after manufacturing data
Business

Global equities break record as U.S. stocks waver after manufacturing data

By Katanga Johnson WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Global equities set both an intraday high and record close on Tuesday as markets as investors weighed the latest U.S. economic data for signs of a rebound and rising inflation while Wall Street's main indexes wavered before ending little changed. Graphic: Global asset performance http://tmsnrt.rs/2yaDPgn Energy shares were among the best performing during the session as the OPEC+ alliance agreed to hike output in July and gave a bullish forecast.

Zoom beats quarterly revenue estimates on steady demand
Business

Zoom beats quarterly revenue estimates on steady demand

(Reuters) - Zoom Video Communications Inc reported better-than-expected quarterly revenue on Tuesday, benefiting from steady demand for its video-conferencing platform as people wary of the pandemic continued school and work from home. Zoom became a household name during the pandemic as businesses and schools switched to its video conferencing platform for virtual classes, office meetings and social catch-ups.

Cyprus sees nationalists gain in parliament vote
World

Cyprus sees nationalists gain in parliament vote

By Michele Kambas NICOSIA (Reuters) -Cyprus's ruling conservatives emerged as winners but failed to get an absolute majority in a parliamentary election on Sunday, with voters turning to smaller parties, including a right-wing party with links to Greece's now outlawed Golden Dawn.