Islamic Lifestyle 

Hajj 2019: Saudi Arabia announces final numbers and statistics for this year’s Muslim major pilgrimage

| 14 August, 2019

MAKKAH, Saudi Arabia, 13 August 2019 (CIC) – Saudi Arabia announced on Tuesday official Hajj numbers and statistics, confirming that nearly 2.5 million pilgrims is the final tally of pilgrims who performed the major Islamic pilgrimage to the holy city of Makkah this year.

International and domestic pilgrims who travelled to Makkah for Hajj performed some of the final rites on Tuesday, including the ritual of throwing pebbles in Jamarat in the holy site of Mina. Hajj officially started on the evening of 8th of Dhul Hijjah, or Friday August 9th, and lasts until the 12th of Dhul Hijjah, or Tuesday, but some pilgrims continue the pilgrimage for a sixth day on the 13th of the same Islamic month, corresponding to Wednesday August 14th. Pilgrims concluding their Hajj journey on Tuesday performed Tawaf Al-Wadaa (Farewell Tawaf), the last rite of Hajj, by walking around the Kabaa counter-clockwise seven times before leaving Makkah.

The holy city of Madinah, about 438 km to the north Makkah, received on Tuesday evening the first waves of pilgrims who have completed their Hajj this year. There the pilgrims visit the Prophet's Mosque )Al-Masjid an-Nabawi) and pray in this major Islamic pilgrimage site and burial place of the Prophet (PBUH). Tens of thousands of pilgrims are expected to arrive in Madinah in the next two days, according to the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

Addressing a news conference on Tuesday in the holy site of Mina near Makkah, HRH Prince Khalid Al-Faisal bin Abdulaziz, Advisor to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz, Governor of Makkah Region, and Chairman of the Central Hajj Committee, confirmed that the final tally of pilgrims was 2,489,406, of whom 1,855,027 came from foreign countries, and 634,379 were domestic.

He said of the domestic pilgrims the number of law-abiding pilgrims with official permits was 336,000 and violators without permits numbered 298,379. He said the number of violators decreased by almost a third from 383,000 last year.

MAKKAH AND HOLY SITES TO BECOME A ‘SMART CITY’

Prince Khalid Al-Faisal thanked King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and HRH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for all the efforts they exert for the comfort of pilgrims and provide all capabilities to serve them during the pilgrimage.

"These capabilities, which every Saudi citizen has contributed to from within or outside the government, is a great honor that every Saudi is proud of. God has prepared for us all to serve the pilgrims, and I do not exclude any of the workers in this pilgrimage, and they are in the hundreds of thousands,” Prince Khalid Al-Faisal said in remarks carried by SPA.

As testimony to their efforts, he said a special Royal Commission has been established in Makkah and the holy sites last year under the auspices of HRH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. It has the authority and responsibility to develop the Holy Sites and the City of Makkah. The Commission began to study plans by the Makkah Region, its Development Authority, its municipalities, and all the service-related ministries, he said, adding a consensus was reached in the Royal Commission about the preliminary studies for special and Holy Sites development projects. The implementation of technical and executive studies was commenced, and it is now nearing completion.

"Immediately after this Hajj season, we will start building the first development model for Mina, which includes housing and camps," he said. "This model will be ready next year to be put under trial to see the effectiveness of this project and if any additions, adjustments, or complete changes are needed. But we have begun this process of development, with a strong will from the government headed by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and HRH the Crown Prince, until Makkah and the Holy Sites become a smart city, which will be completed in the next few years."

On the technology front, Hajj 2019 saw an increased pace in using technology to improve the pilgrimage experience, to do almost everything to manage the massive crowds, to monitoring the quality of the environment at the mosques to keeping a watch on one’s health and movement and guiding them to the right place at the right time. Recently unveiled projects by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah include a smart Hajj platform, a service-supervision initiative to improve housing by adding living space and organizing bus trips, a pilgrim grouping programme that uses electronic system to manage and monitor crowds, a project to increase capacity as part of which a site in Mina has been cleared to set up fully-equipped tents, and an initiative to improve upon food services and expand the provision of ready meals at holy sites.

Last year, the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology launched a “Smart Haj” initiative to provide pilgrims with all the necessary information required for performing the pilgrimage. Part of the Kingdom’s digital transformation programme under Vision 2030, the effort includes many digital services and interactive apps, significant of which are Destination, Assist Me, Hajj and Umrah Navigator, Health and Our Rituals.

HAJJ STATISTICS OFF THE CHARTS

Prince Khalid said the total manpower working during Hajj season from different departments reached more than 350,000, in addition to 35,000 volunteers; including 120,000 security personnel, 200,000 from various sectors, and 30,000 health workers.

Providing some statistics that illustrate the mammoth effort that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia goes to serve the pilgrims, he said charities distributed more than 26 million meals during Hajj this year under the supervision of the Makkah Region, he added.

Saudi authorities have pumped 41 million cubic meters of water were pumped to Makkah and the Holy Sites during Hajj while electrical loads during Hajj this year in Makkah and the Holy Sites reached 4,715 KW, he said.

The 2,489,406 pilgrims were transferred from the holy site of Arafat to Muzdalifah within six hours, including 360,000 pilgrims through the Mashair train, 100,000 using pedestrian routes, and the rest were transported by 20,000 buses.

In the medical services sector, more than half a million pilgrims were received healthcare and 400 pilgrims in induced comas completed their Hajj through the mobile medical convoy. “The comatosed pilgrims were taken to Arafat and successfully completed their Hajj in ambulances, despite some of them being completely unconscious," he said.

In other statistics from the Saudi General Authority for Statistics, a total of 21 government and private sector entities took part in providing general Hajj services to pilgrims in 1440H (2019).

It said more than 350,000 employees from various sectors served the pilgrims in 2019:

§  Supervision and follow up services  …………………..……     6,336

§  Public services   ………………………………………………………  257,763

§  Health services  ………………………………………………………    30,908

§  Transportation services  ………………………………………….    38,750

§  Communication services ………………………………………….      7,098

§  Volunteers  ………………………………………………………………      9,975


The General Authority of Statistics has given the following breakdown for the numbers of non-Saudi pilgrims who came to Makkah from outside and inside the Kingdom:

 

§  Pilgrims from GCC countries      ………………………………………    33,705

§  Pilgrims from Arab countries outside the GCC  ……………….. 475,831

§  Pilgrims from non-Arab Asian countries …………………………1,157,919

§  Pilgrims from non-Arab African countries ……………………..    190,764

§  Pilgrims from Europe  ……………………………………………………….   67,932

§  Pilgrims from North & South America and Australia …………   27,690


It said male pilgrims who performed Hajj this year numbered 1,385,234, while female pilgrims reached 1,104,172.
 
The biggest contingent of pilgrims this year was from Indonesia.

Asked about the possibility of hiking the number of pilgrims from Indonesia, which has the highest contingent of the faithful at this year’s Hajj, Prince Khalid Al-Faisal said pilgrim quotes are decided by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Jeddah-based grouping of 57 Muslim-majority countries in four continents. According to OIC rules if the population of a country increases then its quota also rises.

“Saudi Arabia does not interfere in the affairs of other Muslim countries through this Islamic congregation on these holy lands, for they are only meant for worship,” Prince Khalid said.

MAKKAH ROUTE

Prince Khalid Al-Faisal said the Kingdom is keen to expand the Makkah Route Initiative, a program first launched by Saudi Arabia during Hajj 2017 with a view to facilitate travel by international pilgrims.

The program had started with some Malaysian pilgrims but the new procedure was later expanded to include other countries. This year the program was implemented at Jakarta, Dhaka, Kuala Lumpur, Islamabad, and Tunis airports, used by 171,648 pilgrims this Hajj.

“We hope that the Makkah Route Initiative reaches all the countries of the Islamic world,” Prince Faisal said, noting that it greatly facilitates entry procedures for pilgrims who don’t more than half an hour at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, or at any Saudi airport.

WHO COMMENDS HAJJ HEALTH SERVICES

The U.N. World Health Organization (WHO) commended the successful efforts of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, represented by the Ministry of Health, during this Hajj season, without any public health event or disease outbreak among pilgrims reported. This year, the ministry implemented, in cooperation with WHO, the electronic early warning system for health events and epidemic diseases.

A team of the international organization visited health centers and hospitals in Mina, Muzdalifah and Arafat and learned about the work done on the ground, noting that the field visit proved that the early warning system is in place and functioning well.

Dr Ibrahim El-Ziq, the WHO Representative in Saudi Arabia, said: “We saw that hospitals were well prepared and we saw their desire to serve the pilgrims. We also saw different sectors working together to support the pilgrims. We saw the Ministry of Defense supporting the Ministry of Health, in terms of transporting patients from King Abdullah Hospital (in Makkah) to Arafat, so that these patients can complete their Hajj.

“So all in all it has been a very successful season. We congratulate the Ministry of Health on a successful Hajj. There is no reporting of any infection or serious issues related to the public health.”

The Saudi Minister of Health Dr. Tawfiq bin Fawzan Al-Rabiah announced the final numbers for health services provided to the pilgrims. He said a total of more than 1,690,000 (one million six hundred and ninety thousand) pilgrims entering through airports, land border points and sea ports this year benefited from preventive and ambulatory services (including vaccinations) in the health outlets set up by the ministry.

A total of about 500,000 (half a million pilgrim) received medical care free of charge in hospitals and health centers in Makkah and Madinah and the holy sites between July 4, when the Hajj season started, and Tuesday August 13, the minister added.

According to the ministry, more than 4,200 pilgrims have been admitted to hospitals. A total of 36 open heart operations and more than 750 cardiac catheterizations were performed in Makkah and Madinah hospitals, along with and 600 different other surgeries, while 12 births have been recorded to date, it added. A total of 1,998 dialysis operations and 103 endoscopic operations were reported up to Monday by the ministry.

He said about 30,000 Ministry of Health personnel were involved in serving the pilgrims during Hajj. Twenty-five hospitals have been set up in Makkah, Madinah and the holy sites with a total capacity of 5,000 beds. There were also 142 primary care centers in addition to more than 140 mobile clinics, in places where pilgrims gathered.

GUESTS OF THE KINGDOM

A number of pilgrims this year, including celebrities or influencers, are performing Hajj as guests of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah. One of them is on his second Hajj, French former footballer Vassiriki Abou Diaby, whose career included playing for Arsenal football club in the UK and Marseille in France.

The 33-year-old Abou Diaby, who had performed his first Hajj two years ago, as well as the minor Islamic pilgrimage Umrah five or six times, spoke of what he said was a better pilgrim experience, thanks to the efforts of the Kingdom to improve services offered to the pilgrims.

Asked if he saw any progress this time around, Abou Diaby said: “Yes, very much, because I think the first time I performed the Hajj, I was quite impressed by the way it was easy for large amount of people to move. That means that the government made a big effort to make it easy for the people, and each time when I come I can see the difference, so each time is a better experience I’d say.”

His remarks were echoed by Raoua Tlili, the Tunisian Paralympian, who was also performing Hajj as a guest of the Kingdom.

“I would like to thank the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques (King Salman bin Abdulaziz). He directed the Saudi people to serve the pilgrims,” she said.

“They put their country under a good light among young and old. People who serve pilgrims in Makkah and outside it, and in Madinah always welcome you, whether they know you or not. You feel the love and kindness of these compassionate people, as if they live in the era of the Prophet himself, peace be upon him.”

“I haven't seen this level of generosity and hospitality in other countries,” she said.

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