Once again, Saudi Arabia is preparing for Haj. Scheduled to start in a few days, the government is announcing the various measures it is taking and issuing warnings to pilgrims.
While temperatures are starting to cool in the northern hemisphere, they are predicted to be in the 100°F (98°C) range in Mecca throughout Haj. With that heat, in a very crowded area, there are concerns, as Arab News reports:
Civil Defense, responsible for general safety, reports that it is fully prepared:
The Jordan Times carries a story noting that Saudi Arabia is warning unspecified countries to avoid trying to politicize Haj, though the newspaper has no problem identifying the target country.
A Turkish website, Today’s Zaman, has no problem blaming Iran for the Saudi decision to keep the number of visas issued to pilgrims static, while also noting that the official reason — infrastructure projects being undertaken both in Mecca and Medinah — plays a role.
After a flurry of concern about a newly discovered virus in the region, the Saudi Minister of Health assuages worries about pilgrims bringing it into the country, according to this Saudi Gazette piece:
King Abdullah announced a special dispensation for Syrian refugees to attend Haj. Saudi Gazette reports that they’re appreciative: