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Coronavirus

General presidency equips pilgrims with Hajj essentials amid COVID-19

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The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Grand Holy Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque has provided pilgrims with all the necessary supplies and services to get through the Hajj season safely and in a socially distanced manner, according to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

Hajj visitors are provided with over 100,000 bottles of Zamzam water per day, during the first ten days of Dhu al-Hijjah.

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Muslims believe that Zamzam is a miraculously generated source of water from God, which sprang thousands of years ago when Ibrahim’s infant son Ismail was left with his mother Hajar in the desert. After desperately looking for water to quench their thirst, God made water spring out of the ground, where it remains today.

Also, more than 9,000 liters of Zamzam water are being distributed in back bags by 350 workers, SPA reported, along with 2,000 packs of dates during the Dhuhr (noon), Asr (afternoon), and Maghrib (sunset) prayers.

A picture taken on June 15, 2021, shows a smart robot used for the first time at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia's holy city of Mecca, supplying worshippers with bottles of Zamzam water to reduce direct contact with staff as a measure to prevent COVID-19 infections during the yearly hajj pilgrimage. (AFP)
A picture taken on June 15, 2021, shows a smart robot used for the first time at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia's holy city of Mecca, supplying worshippers with bottles of Zamzam water to reduce direct contact with staff as a measure to prevent COVID-19 infections during the yearly hajj pilgrimage. (AFP)

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To achieve this whilst limiting the spread of COVID-19, the affiliated body is using robots.

The robots use a control system that is programmed on a pre-installed map, ensuring that they protect the environment whilst analyzing the sterilization requirements in accordance with various usage scenarios.

Smart robot being used to sterilize area and distribute Zamzam water at Grand Holy Mosque during Hajj. (SPA)
Smart robot being used to sterilize area and distribute Zamzam water at Grand Holy Mosque during Hajj. (SPA)

The robots can distribute an average of 30 bottles of Zamzam water during a 10-minute tour. They are also able to work between five to eight hours without any human intervention, eliminating the spread of bacteria within 600 square meters.

The general presidency allocated 3,000 electric carts which can be pre-booked on the Tanaqol app, to ensure that visitors avoid crowding and maintain social distancing, SPA reported on Sunday.

Pilgrims arrive at the Grand Holy Mosque for Hajj. (SPA)
Pilgrims arrive at the Grand Holy Mosque for Hajj. (SPA)

In addition, Fahd bin Sharar al-Maliki, director of mobility services department at the Grand Mosque, told SPA that his department would supervise the maintenance and sterilization of the carts and monitor their movement, ensuring they are used in the allocated areas.
The body also distributed 12,000 umbrellas to Hajj pilgrims and workers at the Grand Mosque on Friday to help offer protection from the sun and heat, SPA reported.

This year’s Hajj is taking place during the COVID-19 pandemic, as it did in 2020. A limited 60,000 people have been selected to take part in the pilgrimage in an effort to curb the spread of the virus.

The accepted pilgrims had to meet strict criteria to qualify. Only vaccinated citizens and residents of Saudi Arabia between the ages of 18 and 65 were considered during the selection process, with none suffering from chronic illnesses or joined the procession in a previous Hajj.

Mecca normally welcomes more than 2.5 million Muslims from across the world for Hajj.

Read more:

Twenty fined for violating Hajj regulations: Spokesperson

Saudi Civil Defense female officers play vital role to ensure safe Hajj season

Hajj amid COVID-19: Steps and rituals every pilgrim must follow