With restrictions in force for pilgrims, a number of the Haram Presidency officials and cleaning workers attend Ramadan prayers at the Grand Mosque in Makkah.
MAKKAH — The sprawling courtyards of the Grand Mosque and the Central Haram Area wore a deserted look as the faithful have been forced to observe the fasting month of Ramadan in isolation, staying at their homes.
This was quite an unprecedented scene, perhaps for the first time in the modern history of the Grand Mosque, where hundreds of thousands of Umrah pilgrims and visitors used to throng and overflow to its courtyards and surrounding areas during the holy month.
The deserted scene was a result of the 24-hour lockdown enforced in the holy city as part of the extraordinary precautionary and preventive measures taken by the Saudi authorities to protect the citizens, expatriates, pilgrims and even violators of residence and labor regulations from coronavirus pandemic.
The Central Haram Area, which accommodates the largest hotel sector in the Kingdom, is empty because of the suspension of Umrah for pilgrims and visitors from within the Kingdom as well as from all parts of the world.
Abdul Hameed Al-Maliki, deputy head of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques for planning and developmental affairs, said that the Presidency made all the arrangements and preparations, in coordination with public health authorities, to deal with this unprecedented situation caused by the epidemic.
“A committee has been formed to follow up on the crisis as well as a team has been set up to ensure smooth flow of the Presidency’s operational plan for Ramadan on various aspects to meet all the anticipated scenarios,” he said.
Al-Maliki said that the presidency is intensifying its efforts around the clock to cleanse and sterilize the Two Holy Mosques six times on a daily basis.
“As many as 450 workers are engaged in carrying out sterilization of all floors, corridors and courtyards and surrounding areas of the Two Holy Mosques. We are using environment friendly sterilization and cleaning materials; and provide thermal cameras for early detection, and distribute masks and gloves for the cleaning workers.”
Al-Maliki said that even though mataf (circumambulation area around the Holy Kaaba), corridors and courtyards of the Grand Mosque are deserted with the suspension of Umrah and entry of the public, the Presidency is showing utmost keenness in ensuring the maximum safety of Islam’s holiest shrine by taking all the precautionary and preventive measures.
“The obligatory prayers and special Ramadan prayers of taraweeh and Qiyamullail are restricted to a limited number of the presidency officials and cleaning workers. It is painful to witness such an unfortunate scene of a deserted Grand Mosque and its courtyards which otherwise overflows with crowd during the holy month of Ramadan,” he added.
Saudi Gazette report
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