Muslim pilgrims have started arriving in Saudi Arabia ahead of the annual Hajj season due to begin on September 10.
The Grand Mosque in Mecca received the pilgrims for the annual religious pilgrimage, which is viewed as one of the greatest acts of worship in Islam.
The Saudi Red Crescent is preparing for the pilgrimage after a disaster which claimed the lives of hundreds of pilgrims last year.
“Despite the tragic incidents that occurred (last year), the service that was provided was considered very good. Regarding this season, we took advantage of the lessons from the previous season. God willing, the service will be better (this season), and of course this season we consider it very hot as you can see, so we have (made) good preparations for sunstroke cases,” said Ibrahim al Yahya, Red Crescent’s general manager of medical and ambulatory services.
Last year more than 700 pilgrims were killed during the hajj pilgrimage, the highest death toll since a crush in 1990. The Red Crescent is also well prepared to deal with sunstroke at this year’s hajj.
“We are part of the system that provides medical services and we are tasked with two parts. The first part is to provide health and ambulatory services ahead of hospital level. The second part is (ensuring) awareness and education as precautionary measures,” al Yahya said.
The Red Crescent has already handled 44 patients since the start of this year’s season. Hajj must be performed at least once in a lifetime by all Muslims capable of making the expensive and difficult journey.