Mina tent city hosts over 2 million Hajj pilgrims

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Pilgrims arrive in Mina on the first day of Hajj. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
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Hajj is meant to be a great equalizer and unifier among Muslims, with pilgrims shedding overt displays of wealth and materialism. (AN photo by Essam Al-Ghalib)
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Pilgrims pour into Mina on the first day of Hajj on Friday. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
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Pilgrims arrive in Mina on the first day of Hajj. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 10 August 2019

Mina tent city hosts over 2 million Hajj pilgrims

  • From the tent city, the pilgrims move to Mt. Arafat Saturday for a day of repentance, supplication
  • More than 1.8 million visas issued online without the need for middlemen, says government official

MINA: More than 2 million pilgrims gathered in the tent city of Mina as Hajj 2019 began on Friday. 

From Mina, the pilgrims will head to Mount Arafat early on Saturday, an area about 20 km east of Makkah. There, the pilgrims will stand shoulder to shoulder for an emotional day of repentance and supplication at the site where Prophet Muhammad delivered his final sermon, calling for equality and unity among Muslims.

“All arms of the state have been deployed (and) we are proud to serve as ‘God’s hosts’,” said security forces spokesman Bassam Attia.

 

“More than 1.8 million visas were delivered online without the need for middlemen. It’s a success,” said Hajj Ministry official Hatim bin Hassan Qadi.

As the lights of Mina came alive and the pilgrims began to settle in for the night, Arab News caught up with some of them to discuss their feelings about how their first day of Hajj went.

Mohammed Jameel, from Pakistan, is in Mina on his first Hajj. “It’s a pleasure and a blessing. We have been waiting our whole life for these moments. We are very satisfied so far and looking forward to the coming days. We are praying for all the Muslims in the world, especially for those experiencing troubles, our brothers and sisters in Kashmir, in Palestine, etc. We pray for all of them, and we pray for our families and our loved ones,” he said.

Rahaf Niyazi, from Saudi Arabia, is also performing Hajj for the first time. “Everything we’ve seen so far is amazing, and it’s such a blessing to be here. It’s better than I ever imagined it could be,” she told Arab News.

All arms of the state have been deployed and we are proud to serve as God’s hosts.

Bassam Attia, Saudi security forces spokesman

Despite the heat wave that swept through Mina at noon, the weather had cooled somewhat by night, giving pilgrims a much needed respite from the oppressive glare of the sun.

Security guards and Civil Defense volunteers swept through the camps during the day, sprinkling pilgrims with cool water, offering assistance to the disabled and helping pilgrims with directions. The famous sense of camaraderie that defines Hajj was alive and well in Mina, and by the looks of things, Hajj of 2019 is off to a great start.

Security guards in Mina told Arab News that this was the best organized Hajj yet, and things had vastly improved in the past few years. “A lot of the problems we had in the past have all but disappeared,” one said. “This year, Hajj is the best it has ever been. InshaAllah things will continue that way.”




Pilgrims pour into Mina on the first day of Hajj on Friday. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

One of the many unsung heroes of Hajj this year is Mohammed Saber, a volunteer physician working with a team of nurses and medical students helping worshippers on their spiritual journey. “This is a big opportunity to serve God’s guests and to serve Muslims,” Saber told Arab News. 

Hajj is meant to be a great equalizer and unifier among Muslims, with pilgrims shedding overt displays of wealth and materialism. 

All male pilgrims wear ihram (a two-piece seamless white cloth) and women don Islamic dress, forgoing makeup and perfume in an effort to draw closer to God and engage in intense worship for the five-day pilgrimage.

The US Consulate in Jeddah said some 20,000 US citizens and residents were expected to be at the pilgrimage. 

To curb the potential for a viral outbreak of any kind, Saudi Arabia this year stopped issuing visas to people from Congo, citing the Ebola outbreak there.


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Hajj 2019 Day 1: Pilgrims arrive in Mina for the night ahead of the journey to mount Arafat

Hajj 2019 Day 1: More than 2 million pilgrims make their way from Makkah to Mina

 

 


Riyadh Agreement to “open the door” for broader peace talks on Yemen, says King Salman

Updated 20 November 2019

Riyadh Agreement to “open the door” for broader peace talks on Yemen, says King Salman

  • King Salman said the oil policy of the Kingdom is aimed at promoting market stability
  • He urged Iran to abandon an expansionist ideology that has ‘harmed’ its own people

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia seeks a political settlement in Yemen and hoped that a recent agreement signed in Riyadh would open the door to broader peace talks, King Salman said on Wednesday.
The king was speaking at an annual address to the Shoura Council.
King Salman said “we deserve to feel proud of our nation’s success in eliminating extremist manifestations, and besieging its ideology by all means, to return to moderation, which is a characteristic of the Saudi society.”
Saudi Arabia and its allies intervened in the conflict in 2015, shortly after the Iran-backed Houthi militia took over the capital Sanaa.
He said the Kingdom’s oil policy aims to promote stability in global oil markets and looks to serve consumers and producers alike.
King Salman also said the initial public offering of Saudi Aramco will allow investors inside and outside the Kingdom to take part and will create thousands of jobs.
The revenues from the sale, he said, will be allocated to the country’s Public Investment Fund.
He said Aramco’s ability to quickly restore oil production capacity after attacks in September proved the Kingdom could meet global demand during any shortage.
“Though the kingdom has been subjected to attacks by 286 ballistic missiles and 289 drones, in a way that has not been seen in any other country, that has not affected the kingdom’s development process or the lives of its citizens and residents,” the king told assembled council members, royals and foreign diplomats.
In the latest attack on September 14, drone strikes targeted two Saudi oil facilities, temporarily knocking out half of the kingdom’s oil production.
The attacks were claimed by the Houthis, but Washington and Riyadh said Iran was responsible, and that the strikes were carried out with advanced missiles and drones.
King Salman also urged Iran to abandon an expansionist ideology that has “harmed” its own people, following violent street protests in the Islamic republic.
A wave of demonstrations erupted in the sanctions-hit country on Friday after an announcement that petrol prices would be raised by as much as 200 percent with immediate effect.
“We hope the Iranian regime chooses the side of wisdom and realizes there is no way to overcome the international position that rejects its practices, without abandoning its expansionist and destructive thinking that has harmed its own people,” the king told the consultative Shoura Council.
The region’s leading Shiite and Sunni powers have no diplomatic ties and are at odds over a range of issues, including the wars in Syria and Yemen.
“The kingdom has suffered from the policies and practices of the Iranian regime and its proxies,” King Salman said, quoted by the foreign ministry, reiterating that Riyadh does not seek war but is “ready to defend its people.”
Meanwhile, King Salman hailed the Kingdom’s “huge achievements” in the past decades, adding that the country is determined to record further achievements through its Vision 2030.
He also mentioned that Saudi Arabia has been ranked in 2019 by the World Bank as the “most advanced and first reformed country among 190 countries in the world.
King Salman also commended his government’s decision to grant tourist visas, describing the move as a way to attract investments, create jobs and showcase Saudi heritage and culture.
Earlier during the meeting, Dr. Abdullah Al-Asheikh reviewed the Shoura Council’s accomplishments during the third year of the seventh session.
Al-Asheikh said: “Thanks to the support of the wise leadership and the council’s cooperation with the Cabinet, ministries and governmental bodies, the council was able to achieve significant accomplishments, where it held 65 sessions and issued 262 decisions that were referred to King Salman, to serve our dear country and guarantee welfare and prosperity for our people.”