Wheelchairs enable disabled pilgrims to perform Hajj

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The Saudi government and private philanthropists have made thousands of wheelchairs available to Hajj pilgrims. (AN Photo/Huda Bashatah)
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The Saudi government and private philanthropists have made thousands of wheelchairs available to Hajj pilgrims. (AN Photo/Huda Bashatah)
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The Saudi government and private philanthropists have made thousands of wheelchairs available to Hajj pilgrims. (AN Photo/Huda Bashatah)
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The Saudi government and private philanthropists have made thousands of wheelchairs available to Hajj pilgrims. (AN Photo/Huda Bashatah)
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The Saudi government and private philanthropists have made thousands of wheelchairs available to Hajj pilgrims. (AN Photo/Huda Bashatah)
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The Saudi government and private philanthropists have made thousands of wheelchairs available to Hajj pilgrims. (AN Photo/Huda Bashatah)
Updated 14 August 2019

Wheelchairs enable disabled pilgrims to perform Hajj

  • Health Affairs Directorate in Makkah has provided some 819 wheelchairs of different types this year alone
  • In Islam, a disabled pilgrim can ask another pilgrim to do the stoning on their behalf

MINA: Hajj is obligatory for all Muslims who are physically and financially capable to perform it. Some worshippers with certain illnesses, injuries and disabilities are exempt, but insist on performing it anyway. One invention, that of the German watchmaker, Stephan Farffler, has made it easy for them to do so.

The Saudi government and private philanthropists have made thousands of wheelchairs available to Hajj pilgrims.

Through its social department, the Health Affairs Directorate in Makkah has provided some 819 wheelchairs of different types this year alone, worth SR229,320 (over $61,000). These included self-powered chairs for those who needed them, as well as assistants.

Security forces assigned special paths at camps to the Jamarat for wheelchair users to ensure their safety while performing their Hajj rites. Boy scout volunteers have also exerted great effort in helping these pilgrims and those found exhausted after long treks.  

Social contribution supervisor, Mahasen Shuaib, told Arab News: “The program includes many gifts and services to the pilgrims, including clothes and hundreds of thousands of drinking water bottles. These were all made available for all pilgrims in need.”

Saleh Abdussalam, a Hajj service company provider, said that private companies were also providing pilgrims in need with wheelchairs for free.

“They use them to go to Jamarat. We also help in grouping them during non-peak hours or when they like to go out. We have some 150 wheelchairs distributed in our camps.”

In Islam, a disabled pilgrim can ask another pilgrim to do the stoning on their behalf. However, some pilgrims are keen to do it by themselves, despite all the difficulties they can go through.

Last year, the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques announced the launch of an application to help elderly and sick pilgrims, who were estimated at about 250,000, electronically book wheelchairs.


GCC summit calls for greater economic and defense unity among Gulf countries 

Updated 10 December 2019

GCC summit calls for greater economic and defense unity among Gulf countries 

  • Heads of the delegations land in Riyadh before the 40th Supreme Council meeting gets under way
  • King Salman tells the summit that the GCC has overcome many crises in its history

RIYADH: The GCC summit called for greater regional economic and defense integration as the meeting chaired by King Salman came to a close in Riyadh on Tuesday.

The final statement, read by GCC General Secretary Abdullatif Al-Zayani, called for finalizing legislation for financial and monetary unity by 2025, according to the meeting's final communique.

The statement also called for boosting military and security cooperation to maintain regional security.

“The leaders of the GCC countries have affirmed today their keenness to preserve the strength, cohesion and strength of the GCC …  as an oasis of stability, security, economic prosperity and social peace,” the statement said.

It referred to attacks in the last year against Saudi Arabia, including coordinated missile and drone strikes against major oil facilities blamed on Iran.

The statement said the GCC states “stand unified against the attacks” and that this reflected the Gulf defense agreement that says “aggression against a member state would be considered as aggression against all the GCC states.”

“The highest goal of the Cooperation Council is to achieve coordination, integration and interdependence among the member states in all fields in order to reach their unity,” it said.

The 40th Supreme Council meeting was chaired by King Salman, who met the heads of each delegation as they landed.

They included the UAE Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, Oman's Deputy Prime Minister for the Council of Ministers Fahd bin Mahmoud Al-Said and Qatar's Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al-Thani.

In his opening remarks, King Salman said the GCC had managed to overcome many crises that the region has faced.

He said the current set of challenges “call for concerted efforts to confront them.”

“The Iranian regime continues its hostile actions to undermine security and stability and support terrorism,” the king said.

He said the GCC must “work with the international community to stop the interference of this regime, deal seriously with its nuclear program and the program to develop ballistic missiles.”

There was no mention in the final communique of the dispute between Qatar and other Gulf and Arab countries. 

But Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah was the most senior Qatari official to attend the GCC summit since 2017 - the same year Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt launched a boycott of Qatar over its links to extremist groups among other things.

Speaking after the meeting, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said: “The four countries (boycotting Qatar) continue to support the efforts of the Kuwaiti Emir and value their success.”

Al-Zayani, who is stepping down as secretary general, said all the GCC leaders had praised the efforts of the Emir of Kuwait in preserving the unity of the cooperation. 

At a preparatory meeting on Monday, Gulf foreign ministers approved the nomination of former Kuwaiti Finance Minister Nayef Al-Hajraf as the next secretary-general of the GCC.

His term will begin in April 2020 following the end of Al-Zayani’s term.