Saudi King orders opening Mataf around Kaaba in Mecca for non-Umrah worshipers

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King Salman bin Abdulaziz issued a royal order to allow the opening of the Mataf, the area for circumambulation around Islam’s holiest site the Kaaba, for non-Umrah worshipers starting from the dawn of Saturday, state news agency SPA reported citing the General President of the Grand Mosque and Prophet's Mosque Affairs Sheikh Abdurrahman bin Abdulaziz Al-Sudais.

The “Mataf” as it is known in Arabic, refers to the open white area immediately around the Kaaba where Hajj and Umrah pilgrims perform the “tawaf” or circumambulation.

Part of any Hajj or Umrah pilgrim’s duties during their pilgrimage is to circle the Kaaba in a counter-clockwise direction seven times.

Al-Sudais stressed the need to adhere to the precautionary procedures and to cooperate with all the workers in the Grand Mosque to serve its visitors.

Saudi Arabia re-opened early morning Friday the two holy mosques after they were temporarily closed for sterilization amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The Grand Mosque in Mecca and the Prophet's Mosque in Medina were closed after Thursday’s night prayer for cleaning and sterilization.

Saudi Arabia had announced on Wednesday temporarily banning entry of its nationals and residents to Mecca to perform Umrah pilgrimage or to visit the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

That came a week after the Kingdom suspended entry of international travelers aiming to perform Umrah pilgrimage in Mecca or to visit the Prophet’s Mosque in Media, in addition to tourists traveling from countries where the coronavirus poses a risk as determined by the Kingdom’s health authorities.

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