Arafat Day on Oct. 3
Arafat Day, when Hajis stand in prayer on the plains of Arafat near Makkah at the peak of the annual pilgrimage, will be on Friday, Oct. 3, with Eid Al-Adha the following day, the Supreme Court announced after several people saw the new Dul Hijjah crescent on Wednesday.
More than 2 million pilgrims are expected to perform Haj this year. They will assemble in Mina, 12 km outside Makkah, on Thursday Oct. 2 at the start of the pilgrimage in preparation for their journey to Arafat the next day. About one million foreign pilgrims have already arrived for Haj.
Eid Al-Adha or the Feast of Sacrifice will be celebrated on Saturday, Oct. 4, the Supreme Court said in a statement, adding that Thursday, Sept. 25 is the first day of Dul Hijjah.
Meanwhile, Acting Health Minister Adel Fakeih said the health of pilgrims was satisfactory based on reports received from the ministry’s command and control center. He also expressed satisfaction with the mock operation conducted by the ministry to contain infectious diseases.
During a meeting of top ministry officials in Jeddah on Wednesday, Fakeih launched the ministry’s website www.moh.gov.sa/hajj to provide health guidelines to pilgrims. The ministry has deployed about 22,000 doctors, nurses and paramedic staff for Haj duty.
“We have also readied 25 hospitals with 5,250 beds and 141 health centers in Makkah, Madinah and the holy sites to provide health services to the guests of God,” the minister said.
“We have given top priority to preventive measures to protect the health of pilgrims. We issued health regulations and conditions to be followed by them before their arrival in the Kingdom.”
During the meeting, senior health officials spoke about the measures taken to deal with possible Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and Ebola cases during the Haj season.
In a related development, Hassan Al-Bishri of the World Health Organization commended the emergency plan set out by Saudi Arabia to prevent an outbreak of Ebola and other infectious diseases during the Haj season.
“The Saudi experiment to screen foreign pilgrims at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah to detect possible infectious diseases is a pioneering one and I would recommend that other countries follow it,” Al-Bishri said.
The Civil Defense conducted a mock rescue operation in Mina on Wednesday, to counter possible environmental pollution from poisonous gases such as chlorine.
Maj. Gen. Khaled Al-Harbi, commander of the special security forces, said his officers in charge of Haj security are in place to protect pilgrims. “Four commands, including one for weapons and explosives, will cover all the holy places and are manned by well-trained officers,” he said.