Saudi Arabia opens Holy Kaaba for non-Umrah performers - GulfToday

Saudi Arabia opens Holy Kaaba for non-Umrah performers


Worshippers take photographs of the Holy Kaaba inside Makkah's Grand Mosque on Friday. AFP

Saudi Arabia has announced the opening of the Mataf (area for circumambulation around the Holy Kaaba) for non-Umrah performers starting from Saturday, according to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

Umrah-750x450Muslim worshippers wear masks after the noon prayers outside the Makkah's Grand Mosque on Saturday. AP

The General President of the Grand Mosque and Prophet's Mosque Affairs Sheikh Dr Abdurrahman Bin Abdulaziz Al Sudais said the decision came following a royal order by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

He added that there was a "plan drawn up for this purpose."

This follows a major cleaning and sterilisation operation inside and outside the Grand Mosque.


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Sheikh Dr Al Sudais also stressed the need to adhere to precautionary procedures and cooperate with Grand Mosque workers to maintain public safety.

Hundreds of Muslims were seen rotating around the Holy Kaaba, but the area between two hills that pilgrims must go between seven times to complete Umrah remained closed.

Barricades blocked access to the Holy Kaaba, draped in a gold-embroidered black cloth, while men in green uniforms cleaned the white-tiled floor.
Authorities had emptied the Grand Mosque for sterilisation on Thursday.

On Saturday, SPA said entry into Saudi Arabia from the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Bahrain would be "temporarily" restricted to three airports in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam.

Only commercial trucks will be allowed to cross by land, it added.


WAM / Agence France-Presse

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