In a first, women cops to police Hajj pilgrims

Jeddah: For the first time, Saudi women police officers have joined Makkah’s security force during this year’s Hajj season.

Saudi government had announced last year that women could join the military service. Following the announcement, female officers joined their male colleagues in policing the sacred city for the Holy pilgrimage.

Arab News with reference to Al-Ekhbariya TV quoted Afnan Abu Hussein as saying “This is a source of pride and happiness for us. Hajj is a very busy season for us, unlike normal days.” She was among the first batch of women cadets to graduate from police service training.

Sari Asiri, director general of Hajj and Umrah affairs at the Ministry of Health told that each group of pilgrims has a leader to facilitate and control their movement in order to ensure social distancing. He added that each group is also accompanied by a health professional to monitor pilgrims’ health status and assist them when needed.

Usually about 2.5 million pilgrims arrive in Makkah for the annual Hajj, but due to coronavirus pandemic only about 1,000 are able to perform it this year.

Islam’s most prestigious annual pilgrimage began Tuesday with just a small fraction of its regular number of worshippers, amid the coronavirus.