Saudi: First pilgrims arrive at Grand Mosque after six-month curb

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After more than six months, with the exception of Hajj, Makkah’s Grand Mosque has opened its doors to the first group of pilgrims performing Umrah in a welcome sign of a new beginning.

More than 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide will rejoice as the first Umrah pilgrims enter the mosque at 6 a.m. on Sunday after applying through the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah’s Eatmarna app.

To accommodate a quota of 6,000 pilgrims per day, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has prepared five meeting points, including the Al-Gaza, Ajyad and Al-Shasha sites, where pilgrims will meet and join health professionals on buses to the Grand Mosque.

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To welcome the first arrivals, thermal cameras will be placed at the entrances and inside halls of the Grand Mosque to monitor body temperature spikes and issue alerts if necessary.

About 1,000 employees have been trained to monitor the rituals of Umrah in the Grand Mosque. The mosque will be cleaned 10 times a day between each group’s presence. Further cleaning of high-traffic areas will also be conducted, including fountains, carpets and bathrooms. Escalators leading to the top floors have also been equipped with cleaning devices, while hand-washing devices have been placed at the mosque’s entrances.

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Air-conditioning systems have also been equipped with ultraviolet sanitizing technology, while crews will maintain an air filter cleaning schedule nine times a day in three different stages.

The presidency has launched several initiatives, including “Kammamat” (face coverings), to ensure pilgrim safety.

With a capacity for 2.5 million pilgrims, the circumambulation area (Mataf) around the Kaaba was chosen for Umrah pilgrims to perform rituals. Designated pathways, similar to the Hajj pilgrimage in August, have been introduced for ease of access.

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