Staying safe at Arafat: a guide

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An Egyptian pilgrim pushes his elderly father in a wheelchair Friday at the huge tent city of Mina, in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, where pilgrims will spend the night before heading to Mount Arafat on Saturday. (AP Photo)
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Muslim pilgrims pray on Mount Mercy on the plains of Arafat during the annual Hajj pilgrimage, outside the holy city of Makkah. (File/Reuters)
Updated 09 August 2019

Staying safe at Arafat: a guide

  • On the 9th of Dhu Al-Hijjah, pilgrims will leave Mina and head to the area of Mount Arafat for a day of prayer and contemplation, repenting for their sins and asking Allah’s forgiveness
  • Umbrellas are an excellent way for pilgrims to gain some protection from the sun’s glare - health experts also highly recommend sunscreen and sunglasses

JEDDAH: As Hajj pilgrims begin their entry into the vicinity of Mount Arafat on Saturday, Arab News takes a look at the most important information you need to know regarding the day of supplication and prayer.

According to the Prophet (PBUH), “Hajj is Arafah”. Arafah Day is the most fundamental of the rites of Hajj, and without it, the pilgrimage cannot be complete. On the 9th of Dhu Al-Hijjah, pilgrims will leave Mina and head to the area of Mount Arafat for a day of prayer and contemplation, repenting for their sins and asking Allah’s forgiveness before heading to Muzdalifah.

With more than 2 million pilgrims performing Hajj this year, safety is a concern for everyone involved. And with Hajj taking place in the middle of summer, the heat poses a serious problem. Here are some tips on how pilgrims can stay safe during this scorching Hajj season.

Pilgrims are required to enter Arafah any time before sunset, which is when pilgrims will start making their journey to Muzdalifah. Therefore some pilgrims can try to avoid the biggest crowds and journey to Arafah any time during the day, as long as they arrive before Maghrib prayer.

The number one concern of Hajj pilgrims is heat stroke; the Ministry of Hajj reported that heat-related illnesses contributed to 24 percent of hospital admissions in 2015. Various hospitals throughout Makkah have echoed the sentiment.

According to the rules of Ihram (Hajj preparation), men are forbidden from covering their heads with hats, turbans, and anything touching the tops of their heads. A common misconception is that this means that they cannot cover their heads at all, but umbrellas are an excellent way for pilgrims to gain some protection from the sun’s glare. Health experts also highly recommend sunscreen, sunglasses and other means of sun protection.

Pilgrims are also advised to ensure that their footwear is appropriate: male pilgrims are allowed to wear open sandals or flip-flops, and are not advised to try to perform Hajj barefoot. Female pilgrims can wear anything, as long as it is taher (free of decontaminants). The ground can often get dangerously hot and cause severe discomfort. The only time during Hajj a pilgrim is required to be barefoot is within the Masjid Al-Haram and during the tawaf (circumambulation of the Ka’abah).

Another important tip is to stay hydrated; the heat can peak at 50 degrees at the worst of times, and combined with the efforts of performing Hajj, the danger of dehydration is very real. There are various points throughout all the major stops of Hajj where pilgrims can get water and zamzam, and having a canteen or a refillable water bottle can be a godsend. For those who prefer their water cold, insulated bottles such as those available from Corkcicle or Thermos can keep your drinks cold for long periods of time.

It’s also important to remember that with so many people from all around the world in such a small place, the potential to get sick rises significantly. It’s important to always have some vitamin C tablets with you, and other immunity boosters. Proper sustenance is also a must; keeping one’s strength up is a vital part of being able to get the most out of one’s Hajj. Healthy foods, healthy snacks, and proper doses of vitamins can help you minimize your chances of getting sick post-Hajj.

Saudi Arabia’s AlUla provides a perfect ‘Corner of the Earth’ for Jamiroquai to shine

Updated 25 January 2020

Saudi Arabia’s AlUla provides a perfect ‘Corner of the Earth’ for Jamiroquai to shine

ALULA: British band Jamiroquai thrilled a delighted audience at Maraya Concert Hall in Saudi Arabia on Friday night during a show packed with hits.

In a first for a venue more used to hosting opera and classical concerts, the British funk/acid jazz outfit had fans dancing along to the music.

The show, at the distinctive, mirror-covered concert hall in historic AlUla, was part of the second Winter at Tantora festival. It opened with “Shake It On,” followed by the hit singles “Little L,” “Alright,” and “Space Cowboy.” By this time the crowd was well and truly warmed up, and “Use the Force” got them on their feet.

“The song seemed to resonate with everyone” Jay Kay told Arab News in an exclusive interview after the show.

During the gig, Kay dedicated the 2002 song “Corner of the Earth” to AlUla, which he described as a “magical and wonderful place, which is absolutely stunning.” The opportunity to perform there was “an honor and privilege” he added. He also thanked “Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman for his vision, and Prince Badr for making this happen and the great hospitality.”

After a further selection of singles and album tracks, the show ended on a high with a quartet of hits — “Cosmic Girl,” “Virtual Insanity,” “Canned Heat” and “Lovefoolosophy.”

Kay praised the Maraya Concert Hall as “a brilliant place to play.” He admitted that initially he was a little worried when he saw it because he was under the impression it would be an outdoor venue. However, any concerns he had were gone by the time the first sound check was done.

“I was transported into a completely different world; the acoustics were unbelievable, like being in a German concert hall,” he said. “It is obviously very well thought out and that’s what makes it so good. The sound was fabulous — I never looked at my sound guy once.”

Jamiroquai’s music videos often feature Kay in super cars, of which he owns many, and he revealed that he would love to shoot such a promo in AlUla.

“In reality, I’m desperate to get in one of the dune buggies, and would kill to have a (Ariel) Nomad and have a go in one in AlUla, where it’s supposed to be driven, for a day or five and dune bash, which is such a rare thing for us in England,” he said.

The singer also said he wants to bring his family to AlUla, which has become a hub for culture and creativity in Saudi Arabia.

“I would like to come out with my family and my youngest, who is called Talula, so hopefully we can have Talula come to AlUla, which would be wonderful,” said Kay.

He added that he was looking forward to exploring the area on Saturday, before leaving the country, but added: “I’m sure you can never have enough time to see everything there is to see.”