Successful haj season

The unhelpful attitude of certain governments, such as those of Qatar and Iran, could not prevent the success of haj operations.
Saturday 17/08/2019
Muslim pilgrims perform the final walk around the Kaaba (Tawaf al-Wadaa), Islam's holiest shrine, at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia's holy city of Mecca on August 13, 2019. (AFP)
Muslim pilgrims perform the final walk around the Kaaba (Tawaf al-Wadaa), Islam's holiest shrine, at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia's holy city of Mecca on August 13, 2019. (AFP)

Most of the credit for this year’s smooth running of the haj must go to Saudi authorities for the efficient management of the rites. Their efficient organisation made it possible to accommodate the needs of nearly 2.5 million pilgrims.

An impressive performance in a mass event that is exceptionally concentrated in time and space as pilgrims stayed in Mecca from August 9-13.

More than 350,000 staff people, in addition to 35,000 volunteers, took part in the logistical operations and the many services provided. They included 120,000 security personnel and 30,000 health workers.

Mohammed Salih Benten, Saudi minister of Haj and Umrah, said the haj administration was managed fully electronically through an integrated infrastructure.

Saudi authorities point to digital services and interactive apps that facilitated the rites. These include “’Destination,” a system that helped visitors move around within the mosques without an internet connection. “Assist Me” allowed pilgrims to seek help in case of medical emergency. “Our Rituals” helped pilgrims locate the shortest routes from their locations.

The haj proceeded without incident despite security concerns stemming from regional tensions and the usual attempts of some countries to politicise the pilgrimage.

The unhelpful attitude of certain governments, such as those of Qatar and Iran, could not prevent the success of haj operations.

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