What is the Hajj?

Hajj is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. It is a call to pilgrims to visit the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

Muslims from all over the world travel to the city every year during Hajj. Before COVID, around 25,000 Muslims would go to Saudi Arabia from the North West of England each year.

While this number is now lower due to restrictions, we still expect thousands of Lancashire residents to travel for Hajj each year.

We hope that our safety advice helps people to enjoy Hajj as a fulfilling experience and that they remain safe after their journey back home to Lancashire.

Fire Safety During Hajj

Fire safety is very important during Hajj and is one of our main concerns. While the advice below is applicable all the time, these points become even more important when travelling somewhere unfamiliar.

Here are some tips to help you stay safe:

  • Check fire safety notices and escape routes at your hotel and in other buildings.
  • Share this information with your family members.
  • Plan an escape route and keep all exits clear.
  • Keep matches and lighters out of reach of children.
  • Never smoke in bed.
  • Use only designated areas for cooking – in 1997, a pilgrim using a gas stove accidentally set fire to a tent causing a fire in which 300 people lost their lives.
  • Never overload electrical sockets. Plug in only one device per socket.
  • Unplug electrical items when they are not in use.

Road Safety

The annual pilgrimage has previously seen road traffic accidents where individuals have been injured or perished.

The Saudi Arabian population drives on the right-hand side of the carriageway and is it essential to drive there with care, observing all road signs. We recommend that road users drive defensively, being cautious at junctions and when undertaking manoeuvres.

Take care also when travelling to and from airports, especially if flight times are early in the morning or late at night. Tiredness can kill, so if undertaking a long journey, we recommend taking regular breaks from driving.

Never speed or drive while intoxicated. Allow enough space between you and the vehicle in front, so you can safely stop in an emergency.

Preventing Crime

Lancashire Police has provided some key messages for people to follow before travelling for Hajj:

  • Ensure all doors and windows in your home are locked when you leave.
  • Set house alarms if you have them.
  • Do not tell others of your pilgrimage, other than friends and family.
  • Give a set of keys to loved ones so they can check on the safety and security of your property whilst you are away.

It is also vital to follow all guidance from the Saudi Government, to ensure that you remain safe whilst on the pilgrimage.

Staying Healthy

The local NHS trusts have provided health advice for those traveling to Saudi Arabia.

It’s important to make sure you’re fully vaccinated before your pilgrimage.  The Saudi Ministry of Health requires all visitors to have received certain inoculations.  You can check the latest vaccine requirements here (opens in a new tab).

It’s also important to maintain good foot hygiene and to look after your feet during your pilgrimage. Pilgrims will likely be on their feet for a long time in the crowds, be sure to wear comfortable footwear to avoid blisters.

Stampedes and Crushes

Because so many people undertake Hajj each year, there are sure to be crowds of thousands of people.  This is especially true on the Jamaarat Bridge in Mina and around Al-Masjid Al-Haram Mosque in Mecca.

It’s important that pilgrims listen to all warnings and communications from the Saudi authorities.

The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Hajj offers the following advice for remaining safe:

  • Stick to the schedules designated for you by the Mutawwif.
  • Adhere to the lanes designated for going to – and returning from – the Jamaarat Bridge.
  • Avoid pushing your fellow pilgrims.  Proceed quietly and calmly.
  • Do not carry personal items or luggage.
  • Do not walk against the direction of the traffic.