Ka’ba barriers in Makkah removed as Umrah season begins

After almost two and a half years, Saudi Arabian authorities have removed the protective barriers cordoning off the holy Ka’ba in the Haram in Makkah allowing worshippers to once more touch the house of Allah.

Sheikh Dr Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, who leads the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, announced the decision in Makkah on Tuesday.

The barriers were installed to enforce social distancing among pilgrims and reduce the spread of Covid-19.

The area surrounding the Ka’ba, where pilgrims circumambulate seven times, was closed in March 2020.

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Al-Sudais said that this decision showed the care the Saudi leadership took for visitors to the Haram and its devotion to facilitating their rituals in a safe and spiritual atmosphere, given the huge number of visitors that the mosque had begun to witness with the start of the Umrah season.

“The presidency is working with all sectors operating at the Haram to welcome pilgrims and to provide them with all services based on the leadership’s aspirations.”

Al Sudais extended his gratitude to King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for their care, attention, and support for the Two Holy Mosques. He prayed to Allah to bless them for their good deeds.

The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques said it had begun preparations to provide services early on, in line with crowd management plans, and prepared the Haram in Makkah and its courtyards to facilitate Umrah rituals for pilgrims with ease and tranquillity.

Changing of the Kiswa of the holy Ka’ba

Meanwhile, in a change of tradition, the new cover of the Holy Ka’ba was installed on Saturday, at the dawn of the new Islamic year of 1444 AH.

The Kiswa as it is called was replaced once a year during Hajj, specifically on the morning of 9 Dhul Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar after the pilgrims go to Mount Arafat, in preparation for receiving worshippers the next morning, which coincides with Eid Al-Adha.

Technicians at the King Abdulaziz Complex do the weaving, stitching and printing by hand and machines using 47 pieces of cloth and thread to make the Kiswa.

The world’s largest computerized sewing machine, at 16 meters in length, carries out the process.

The cloth is stitched together in five different parts and fixed to the base with copper rings. Around 670 kilograms of raw silk is dyed black at the complex.

The Kiswa is decorated with Quranic verses embroidered onto the cloth with 120 kilograms of 21-karat gold thread and 100 kilograms of silver thread.

The cost of making a new 850-kilogram Kiswa is estimated to cost SR25 million (R111 million) making it the world’s most expensive covering.

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