Saudi Arabia’s Qatif commemorates Ashoura amid strict COVID-19 precautions

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Saudi Arabia’s Shia citizens of Qatif region have commemorated Ashoura with traditional religious sermons that were conducted under strict COVID-19 precautions to limit the spread of coronavirus.

Citizens in Saudi Arabia’s Qatif region observe Ashoura during the first 10 days of Muharram. Extensive preparations are made including several activities ranging from religious sermons, mourning, exhibitions, plays and blood donation campaigns.

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The eastern region of the Kingdom has commemorated Ashura with strict restrictions that included outdoor social distancing that went smoothly in cooperation with the relevant authorities.

Al Arabiya correspondent said that the traditional religious sermons included multiple entrance and exit points to limit overcrowding.

Medical teams and first aid volunteers from the regions were present of all the religious sides to handle any possible emergency.

“Children were not allowed to enter the sermons to curb any possible spread of the virus, all attendees had to show proof of vaccination through Tawakkalna mobile application,” Al Arabiya’s correspondent added.

Imam Sheikh Mansour al-Salman said that the leadership of the Kingdom did not neglect the region since the beginning of the pandemic.

“The people of Qatif have early received the required vaccinations which are mandatory to attend all religious ceremonies. Even if you check the coronavirus spread and the number of cases in each region, you notice that Qatif has a reasonably low number of cases,” Sheikh al-Salman added.

Sheikh al-Salman said that the high rates of vaccinations in the regions and the maturity and the awareness levels reflect the culture of Ashoura and Muharram.

“Qatif has witnessed rapid development as part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, King Salman and the Crown Prince have worked to bring back all citizens of Qatif to their homes even from restricted nations during the on-set of the pandemic,” Sheikh al-Salman added.

Sheikh al-Salman added that the people of Qatif are citizens of Saudi Arabia and the nation.

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Interior Affairs have worked enormously with the relevant local and religious authorities to ensure a smooth commemoration of Ashoura in the Kingdom’s Eastern regions.

Shia citizens joined the third Saudi state early in 1913, when Hasa and Qatif voluntarily came under the authority of King Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman.

King Abdulaziz guaranteed the people of these regions right to worship and to practice their religious rituals according to the rulings of the Shia Jaafari sect.

The trust established between Shia citizens and the King has lasted over the decades. Majority of citizens in the eastern province, which is rich in oil resources, are Shia. Many of them work in Aramco which was earlier called the Arabian-American Oil Company. They helped build the company’s factories, extract oil from wells, manage facilities and train employees.

Vision 2030 hopes to establish a productive society that leads to a modern civil state where the law dominates apart from quotas or favoritism.

During a meeting with Egyptian reporters in Cairo, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman positively talked about Saudi Shia citizens and about their role in building the country.

“Saudi Shia contribute to the country’s renaissance and hold leadership positions,” he said.

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