Pilgrims walk around the Kabba at the Grand Mosque n Makkah Saudi Arabia, on Friday. AP
Organising this year’s scaled-down Hajj required "double efforts" by Saudi authorities amid the coronavirus pandemic, King Salman said on Friday after being discharged from hospital following gall bladder surgery.
Only up to 10,000 people already residing in the kingdom are participating in this year's pilgrimage, compared with 2019's gathering of some 2.5 million from around the world.
"Holding the ritual in the shadow of this pandemic... required reducing the numbers of pilgrims, but it obliged various official agencies to put in double efforts," 84-year-old King Salman said in a speech read out on state television by acting media minister Majid Al Qasabi.
"The Hajj this year was restricted to a very limited number of people from multiple nationalities, ensuring the ritual was completed despite the difficult circumstances," he said.
The speech came on the occasion of Eid Al Adha, the Muslim festival of sacrifice, a day after the king left hospital following a 10-day stay for surgery to remove his gall bladder.
The Hajj, which began on Wednesday, is one of the five pillars of Islam and a must for able-bodied Muslims at least once in their lifetime.
Authorities implemented the "highest health precautions" during the rituals, the king said.
Pilgrims, who were all tested for the virus, are required to wear masks and observe social distancing.
For Friday's "stoning of the devil", the last major ritual of the Hajj, Saudi authorities offered the pilgrims pebbles that were sanitised to protect against the pandemic.
In a sign that its strict measures were working, the health ministry reported no coronavirus cases in the holy sites on Wednesday or Thursday.Agence France-Presse
The Hajj, which begins on Wednesday, normally draws around 2.5 million people for five intense days of worship in one of the world's largest gatherings of people from around the world.
The ministry urged the pilgrim to obtain an approved and negative laboratory examination for the coronavirus 72 hours before the arrival in the Kingdom.
In a statement, the Saudi Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, said the new measures will require pilgrims to wear face masks and will forbid entry to the holy sites without a permit, starting from 19th July until 2nd August, 2020.
The shooters claimed that the woman wanted to marry her cousin Waqas, brother of Abbas, who was living in Italy but her brother opposed it. According to the report, the brother wanted her sister to marry a well-educated person, but she refused.
Several infrastructure projects and emissions from nearby refineries were the possible reasons, said a government official who did not want to be named as he was not authorised to talk to the media.
"I think it's very exciting that the UAE, an OPEC member, is going to host COP28, and it's so important that you have an oil and gas producing nation step up and say we understand the challenge of the climate crisis,” Kerry told Reuters in an interview.