Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Over 3 Million Pilgrims to Stand on Arafat

Tuesday, 18 December 2007
By Abdullah Al-Hariri and Adel Al-Malki
Over three million pilgrims are expected to stand in Arafat Tuesday, marking the high point of Haj.
All government bodies have completed their preparations to host the Guests of Allah in Arafat where Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Aal Al-Sheikh will address the Muslims. A huge number of security forces took their positions in Arafat and conducted the last-minute drill on crowd management.
Ministry of Health also started operating the main hospitals in Arafat including the new project of Jebel Al-Rahma hospital.
Earlier on Monday, pilgrims streamed into Mina as they spent the whole day of Al-Tarwiyah in the city of tents.
Mansour Al-Turki, spokesman of the Ministry of Interior, said the general health condition of pilgrims was excellent.
In a press conference held at the Public Security in Mina, Al-Turki described the transfer of pilgrims from Makkah to Mina as "very good."
Everything is going according to the ministry's plans, he said.
Ministry of Health said the health condition of pilgrims was fine.
"No epidemics were registered in the ministry's records," Khaled Marghalani, spokesman of the Ministry of Health said.
He said there were a few sunburn cases.
He reiterated that Saudi Arabia was free from bird flu and that the ministry was taking all precautions in this regard.
Abdullah Al-Harithi, spokesman of the civil defense, said his department had completed the first phase of installing 800 kitchens in the holy sites of Mina, Muzdalifa and Arafat.
Al-Harithi said that civil defense has inspected 200 kitchens.
The first batches of pilgrims arrived in Mina just few hours before dawn. Journey to Mina was difficult especially for old pilgrims as they had to walk 15 km from Makkah.
Local pilgrims, who sneaked into Mina form Makkah, were the real problems in the holy site.
"We have strict directives not to allow anyone to sit near Al-Jamarat area. Unfortunately, some Saudi pilgrims who had no Haj permits created some trouble," Ahmed Abdul Wahed, a police officer said.
Security measures were tight.
Helicopters were seen hovering over the whole site to monitor the flow of pilgrims.
Civil defense has allocated 10 helicopters to participate in this year's Haj mission.
About 7,000 security personnel took part in organizing pilgrims' flow and guide them to their tents.
"It is my first lifetime journey and I was surprised at the great arrangements that have been done so far," Sulaiman Bin Yahya, an Algerian pilgrim, told the Saudi Gazette.
Weather condition forced some pilgrims to carry umbrellas after temperature reached about 39 degrees Centigrade.

No comments: