Saudi Arabia warns pilgrims of “above average” heat during Hajj 2024

As millions of Muslims worldwide prepare for Hajj 2024, Saudi Arabia issues a cautionary note regarding the exceptionally high temperatures anticipated during this year’s pilgrimage. Ayman Ghulam, head of the Saudi National Meteorology Centre, revealed in a recent press conference that temperatures in the holy cities of Makkah and Madina are expected to soar above normal levels. He projected an increase of one and a half to two degrees Celsius, with maximum temperatures reaching an average of 44°C (111°F).

Ghulam emphasized the likelihood of minimal rainfall during the pilgrimage, coupled with humidity levels hovering around 25%. This forewarning underscores the necessity for pilgrims to brace themselves for exceedingly dry and scorching conditions throughout their journey.

Hajj, commencing on June 14 this year, stands as one of Islam’s five pillars, constituting a mandatory religious obligation for every physically and financially capable Muslim to undertake at least once in their lifetime. The pilgrimage encompasses a series of rituals spanning four days in Makkah and its environs in western Saudi Arabia.

During last year’s Hajj, over 1.8 million Muslims participated, but the blistering heat posed significant health risks, with over 2,000 individuals suffering from heat-related ailments as temperatures peaked at 48°C (118°F). The actual count of heat-induced illnesses, inclusive of heatstroke, exhaustion, cramps, and rashes, likely surpassed reported figures.

In preparation for this year’s pilgrimage, Saudi authorities are urging pilgrims to adopt precautionary measures against the heat. Recommendations include staying adequately hydrated, minimizing exposure to direct sunlight, and taking frequent rest breaks in shaded or air-conditioned areas.

Meanwhile, in Pakistan, Chief Meteorologist Sardar Sarfaraz informed Geo News that the Islamic month of Zil Hajj is slated to commence on June 6, with the likelihood of moon sighting on June 7, marking the initiation of the Hajj countdown as per the Islamic calendar.

Given the projected extreme heat, both Saudi and Pakistani authorities advocate for pilgrims to equip themselves accordingly, emphasizing hydration, heat management, and awareness of heat-related risks and symptoms. As the pilgrimage draws near, Muslims globally are finalizing their arrangements, mindful of Saudi Arabia’s cautionary advisory, which underscores the physical challenges Hajj may entail, particularly amidst such harsh weather conditions. Despite these hurdles, the spiritual significance of Hajj persists, promising a profound and transformative journey for participants, supported by meticulous preparation and the guidance of Saudi authorities, ensuring a safe and fulfilling pilgrimage experience.

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