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Saudi Arabia forewarns pilgrims of a high temperature during hajj 2024

Saudi Arabia announced on Tuesday that pilgrims can expect average high temperatures of 44 degrees Celsius (111 degrees Fahrenheit) during this year’s Hajj, following last year’s numerous heat stress cases.

“The expected climate for Hajj this year will witness an increase in average temperatures of one and a half to two degrees above normal in Makkah and Medina,” said Ayman Ghulam, head of the national meteorology center, at a press conference.

The forecast indicates “relative humidity of 25 percent, rain rates close to zero, and an average maximum temperature of 44 degrees,” Ghulam added.

The Hajj, beginning on June 14, is one of the five pillars of Islam and is obligatory for all Muslims who are physically and financially able to undertake it at least once in their lifetime. The pilgrimage involves a series of rites completed over four days in Makkah and its surrounding areas in western Saudi Arabia.

Last year, official figures showed that more than 1.8 million Muslims participated in the Hajj. Over 2,000 people suffered from heat stress as temperatures soared to 48 degrees Celsius (118 degrees Fahrenheit). However, the actual number of heat stress cases, including heatstroke, exhaustion, cramps, and rashes, was likely much higher, as many sufferers did not seek hospital or clinic admission.

At least 240 people, many from Indonesia, died during the pilgrimage, according to various countries’ reports, although the causes of death were not specified. Saudi Arabia did not release statistics on fatalities.

To mitigate the effects of the heat, Saudi officials are implementing measures such as providing air-conditioned tents and misting systems. Ghulam emphasized the “need for sufficient quantities of water to cover daily consumption as temperatures rise” and advised that food for pilgrims be transported in refrigerators to prevent spoilage.

Hosting the Hajj is not only a financial boon for Saudi Arabia but also a significant source of legitimacy for the Saudi monarch, who holds the title “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques” in Makkah and Medina.

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I am an experienced writer, analyst, and author. My exposure in English journalism spans more than 28 years. In the past, I have been working with daily The Muslim (Lahore Bureau), daily Business Recorder (Lahore/Islamabad Bureaus), Daily Times, Islamabad, daily The Nation (Lahore and Karachi). With daily The Nation, I have served as Resident Editor, Karachi. Since 2009, I have been working as a Freelance Writer/Editor for American organizations.

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