Hajj saudi arabia grand mosque
Worshippers throng the courtyard of the Grand Mosque around the Holy Kaaba. Image Credit: The Saudi Ministry of Hajj

Cairo: Starting today (Friday), gas cylinders are banned at Hajj pilgrims’ camps in Saudi Arabia as a safety measure, the kingdom’s civil defence authorities have said, as preparations are afoot for this month’s massive annual Islamic pilgrimage.

The General Directorate of Civil Defence said the entry and use of all types and sizes of liquified gas cylinders are banned at the pilgrims’ camps and premises of government and private sector agencies in the holy sites as of Friday morning.

The ban is part of preventive measures aimed to curb fire risks in the holy places during the Hajj rites, which start on June 14 this year. The Day of Arafat, the peak of Hajj, will take place on Saturday, June 15.

More than 2 million Muslims are expected to attend the upcoming Hajj in and around the holy city of Mecca amid stringent measures against irregular pilgrims.

Around 1.2 million overseas Muslims have so far arrived from all over the world in the kingdom to perform the pilgrimage, Saudi Ministry of Hajj Tawfiq Al Rabiah said in Riyadh on Thursday.

He called on the faithful to abide by the Hajj-associated arrangements and cooperate with different agencies to have access to seamless services.

The official added at a press conference that his ministry has installed thermal cameras that help recognise the numbers of pilgrims in the two holy mosques in Mecca and Medina, and the sacred sites.

Saudi Arabia began early preparations for the upcoming Hajj right after the end of last year’s pilgrimage that around 1.8 million attended.