Islam: 60,000 in Mecca with robots, electronic cards

Technology reigns at second pilgrimage during Covid pandemic

19 July, 17:21

    (ANSAmed) - BEIRUT, JULY 19 - Tens of thousands of Muslim pilgrims, mostly Saudis and foreigners residing in Saudi Arabia, walked on Monday to Mount Arafat near the holy city of Mecca as part of the pilgrimage (hajj) that started on Saturday. For the second consecutive year, the pilgrimage is taking place under severe restrictions due to the Covid pandemic, pan Arab-Saudi television al Arabiya reports. The broadcaster said 60,000 pilgrims gathered today near Mount Arafat, when during the years before the pandemic their number totalled about 2.5 million people from around the world.

    The approximately 60,000 pilgrims were selected online, through a mechanism of casual selection, among the over half a million Saudis and residents of Saudi Arabia who demonstrated that they had the basic conditions to participate: an age between 18 and 65, who were already vaccinated with both doses and who did not have chronic diseases.

    According to Saudi health authorities, no positive cases have been registered so far in the first three days of the pilgrimage. Along with strict social distancing measures, pilgrims have been divided into small groups during each phase of the pilgrimage.

    Authorities have introduced an "electronic pilgrimage card" that allows access without contact to camping sites and hotels for pilgrims and trasportation to religious sites.

    Robots and electronic mechanisms are being used to distribute water bottles to pilgrims who cannot touch, contrary to tradition, the Kaaba, the venerated black stone at the center of the holy site of Mecca.


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