Saudi writerities have report 2.35 million Muslims participate on this yr’s hajj
In September 2015, a development crane crashed over pilgrims congregating on the Grand Mosque in Mecca, leaving greater than one hundred individuals lifeless. PHOTO: AFP
MINA: With international oil costs flailing, Saudi Arabia is popping to a different pure useful resource: billions of dollars gained from spiritual tourism as the dominion hosts the annual hajj pilgrimage.
Outlets line the packed esplanade of the Nice Mosque of Mecca, one of many holiest websites in Islam, decreasing their awnings solely at prayer time and re-opening their doorways minutes after the mosque empties.
Saudi authorities have reported 2.35 million Muslims are collaborating on this yr’s hajj, the pilgrimage to the western Saudi Arabian metropolis of Mecca that varieties one of many 5 pillars of Islam.
Of these, round 1.seventy five million pilgrims from 168 nations arrived from overseas, in line with the state-run SPA information company.
Even on the foothills of Mount Arafat, the place Muslims consider the Prophet Mohammed delivered his final sermon, carpet retailers have been scouting for patrons among the many trustworthy.
“The cash spent by pilgrims this yr could possibly be from 20 to 25 billion riyals [5.3 to 6.7 billion dollars],” stated Maher Jamal, head of Mecca’s Chamber of Commerce and Business — an estimated 70 per cent improve from the earlier yr.
Iran pilgrims make return to hajj with bitter memories
Jamal informed AFP the bounce in income stemmed from a 20 per cent improve within the variety of pilgrims in contrast with final yr. Every of them contributes on common hundreds of dollars to the dominion’s home financial system, spending cash on meals, lodging, souvenirs and presents.
The rise in numbers is not any accident however fairly a part of the formidable Imaginative and prescient 2030 plan aimed toward diversifying the Saudi financial system, which was dealt a critical blow after oil costs plummeted in 2014.
In accordance with historian Luc Chantre, whose analysis focuses on hajj throughout colonial occasions, “even earlier than the arrival of Islam, Mecca was a spot for retailers”.
“It was an space of worldwide change, the place faith and commerce have been all the time linked,” Chantre informed AFP. “Till the invention of oil, the hajj was Saudi Arabia’s main income.”
Saudi Arabia — the world’s prime crude oil exporter — has introduced a plan to shift the dominion’s financial system away from oil dependency towards different sources of income, together with spiritual tourism.
The Imaginative and prescient 2030 plan goals to attract six million pilgrims to hajj yearly. As well as, the dominion hopes to draw 30 million pilgrims to umrah, a lesser pilgrimage that may be accomplished throughout the remainder of the yr.
Years earlier than the 2030 targets have been unveiled, work was already beneath method to increase the capability to accommodate as many pilgrims as attainable in the course of the 5-day hajj.
The previous decade has seen cranes rise above the Nice Mosque for tasks together with the enlargement of the holy mosques of Mecca and Medina, an underground metro line and new flooring constructed across the Kaaba — a black masonry dice which pilgrims circumambulate via now-air conditioned or ventilated corridors.
The enlargement tasks have been met with some criticism for distorting the traditional websites, sparking main security considerations alongside the best way.
In September 2015, a development crane crashed over pilgrims congregating on the Grand Mosque in Mecca, leaving greater than one hundred individuals lifeless.
Later that month, the hajj noticed its worst ever catastrophe when a lethal stampede alongside the route killed round 2,300 individuals.
The stampede drew fierce criticism, particularly from rival Iran which reported 464 of its residents killed.
After refusing to ship pilgrims in 2016, Iranian authorities say greater than 86,000 of their nationals are participating this yr.
104-year-old woman thrilled to be performing Hajj
On Friday, as pilgrims carried out the final main ritual of the pilgrimage, Saudi authorities held a televised press convention to report that the 2017 hajj had handed with out main well being or security upsets.
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