By Arab News
By Saad Al-Dosari
Haj season is once again back. Authorities in the Kingdom are doing their best to ensure the safety and comfort of the millions of Muslims who converge on Makkah to perform the annual pilgrimage. All preparations are done to ensure smooth performance of rituals at the holy sites.
It goes without saying that management of such a large crowd is a great challenge. In addition to the logistics, global political and economical factors are also taken into consideration.
We are also facing several challenges like the impact of low oil prices on our budget, a resolved intent to help the legitimate government in Yemen to restore peace in the impoverished Arab country and the political turmoil in the entire region. Organizing Haj and its management is an uphill task when countries like Syria and Iraq are in trouble and when Iran is continuously playing dirty to promote its divisive policies. But as we all know: When the going gets tough, the tough gets going.
Like every year, the Kingdom is all set to ensure a smooth and peaceful Haj this year as well. It is a holy mission that we take very seriously. We do, however, feel sad over the last years Haj disaster caused due to a stampede.
In order to avoid any untoward incident, the government is relying on a new technology this year to monitor the movement of pilgrims between the holy sites. Around 1,000 surveillance cameras have been installed at the holy sites to monitor the crowds’ movement. For the first time, pilgrims have been asked to wear electronic bracelets.
According to media reports, the bracelet will be connected to GPS. The bracelets contain personal information about the pilgrim wearing it; his or her name, passport number etc. The bracelets will also guide worshipers about prayers’ timings and will provide a multilingual helpdesk to guide them around the holy sites. “The bracelets will help authorities provide care and identify people,” the official Saudi Press Agency SPA said in a statement.
Now such efforts and more come as a very clear statement against Iran’s campaign to denounce the Kingdom’s abilities in organizing the holy event, to the point that Iranians had decided not to send any pilgrims this year. I find it very difficult to understand how the political agenda is so deeply ingrained in the Iranian mindset even when it comes to one of the five pillars of Islam.
And what it is more surprising is that Iran truly believes that by taking such a step, it will hurt the image of the Kingdom.
For years Iran has been trying to create unrest during Haj but the Saudi government has always been hospitable to the Iranian visitors. Through respect and understanding for Iranian’s traditions and beliefs, they have always found the door open to visit Makkah and Madinah through Haj and Umrah seasons. But it seems that the Iranian leaders are more interested in politics. They are basically misleading their own people, which is indeed very sad. Haj is the symbol of Muslim unity and brotherhood but unfortunately, the Iranian regime does not want like the unity of Muslims and wishes to create problems during Haj.
The Kingdom is doing everything to ensure a success Haj this year and everybody living in the Kingdom, Saudis and non-Saudis, knows the efforts that go into the organization of such a huge religious event. We pray that may Allah accept the good deed of all those coming to the holy lands. We are all honored and proud to serve them.