Robot distributes bottles of Zamzam water. Courtsey: SPA
Gulf Today Report
President General of the Grand Holy Mosque and Prophet's Holy Mosque Affairs Sheikh Dr Abdulrahman Bin Abdulaziz Al Sudais inaugurated on Saturday a smart robot to distribute bottles of Zamzam water.
Al Sudais stressed the importance of harnessing modern technologies to serve humanity, especially in light of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The robot works on distributing the water without human intervention and without affecting the movement inside the two Holy Mosques.
On Saturday Saudi Arabia had announced that it will allow 60,000 residents vaccinated against COVID-19d to perform this year's Hajj, but Muslims from abroad will be barred for a second straight year.
This year it would be "open for nationals and residents of the kingdom, limited to 60,000 pilgrims," the Hajj ministry said, quoted by the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
The pilgrimage, scheduled to be held in July, would be limited to those who have been vaccinated and are aged 18-65 with no chronic illnesses, it said.
Only up to 10,000 Muslims took part in last year's Hajj, a far cry from the 2.5 million who participated in the five-day annual pilgrimage in 2019 before the pandemic.
"In light of what the whole world is witnessing with the coronavirus pandemic... and the emergence of new variants, the relevant authorities have continued to monitor the global health situation," the ministry said.
"Considering the large crowds that perform Hajj, spending long periods of time in multiple and specific places... requires the highest levels of health precautions."
Saudi Arabia said those wishing to perform the Hajj would have to apply online, without specifying how many foreign residents would be among the 60,000 pilgrims.
In 2020, foreigners were 70 per cent of the pilgrims, while Saudis made up the rest. The kingdom said it had informed other countries of the decision not to allow pilgrims from abroad.
Local media reports quoted Saudi Health Minister Tawfiq Al Rabiah as saying that participantion in the Hajj season be linked to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, considering it the main condition for participation.
The ministry urged the pilgrim to obtain an approved and negative laboratory examination for the coronavirus 72 hours before the arrival in the Kingdom.
The kingdom's health ministry said it has administered more than five million coronavirus vaccine doses, in a country with a population of over 34 million.
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