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Saudi Arabia announces Ramazan plan in Grand Mosque

MAKKAH: Saudi Arabia has announced Ramazan operation plans for the two holy mosques in Makkah and Madinah.

Sheikh Abdurahman Al-Sudais, head of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, said that Umrah pilgrims will be able to perform Tawaf on the first floor throughout the holy month of Ramazan.

He said the operation plan involved receiving all pilgrims in line with the strict health and safety measures that had been imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19, while also ensuring that mosque visitors were given enough ease to make the best of their experience.

Five areas will be open for prayers at Makkah’s Grand Mosque, said Al-Sudais. These include the eastern courtyard and a designated area for worshippers with special needs. Zamzam water coolers will remain unavailable for pilgrims. However, 200,000 bottles of Zamzam water will be provided to visitors daily.

Al-Sudais said that performing itikaaf and the distribution of iftars at the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) Mosque in Madinah will remain suspended.

People who wish to break their fast at the Grand Mosque or Prophet’s Mosque can do it by bringing water and dates for their own consumption. They will not be allowed to share it with others.

People will not be allowed to have meals within the mosque premises or courtyards. However, the presidency will provide ready-made iftar meals for those visiting the mosque. These meals will be distributed individually.

Al-Sudais, who is also the imam of the Grand Mosque, urged pilgrims to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

“The purpose is to provide a unique experience to Doyoof Al-Rahman (guests of Allah) that will combine performing rituals and preservation of health,” said Al-Sudais.

“In the wake of the continued pandemic, I urge visitors of the Two Holy Mosques to get the COVID-19 vaccine to ensure their safety and (that of) other pilgrims and worshippers.”

Al-Sudais said that, with the help of nearly 10,000 workers, the Two Holy Mosques will accommodate the number of worshippers according to the plan set in place by authorities to prevent overcrowding.

More than 13 million mask-wearing worshippers visited the mosques once the seven-month prayer and Umrah suspension was lifted last October.