Medical volunteers help Hajj pilgrims beat the heat

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A medic examines a pilgrim during a routine health check at the Hajj pilgrimage. (Huda Bashatah/Arab News)
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Medics examine a pilgrim during a routine health check at the Hajj pilgrimage. (Huda Bashatah/Arab News)
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A medic examines a pilgrim as his son watches on during a routine health check at the Hajj pilgrimage. (Huda Bashatah/Arab News)
Updated 11 August 2019
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Medical volunteers help Hajj pilgrims beat the heat

  • Teams work in shifts from 8 a.m. until midnight

MAKKAH: The Hajj pilgrimage is one of Islam’s most important rituals, and for many Muslims, the spiritual journey is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

And this year, with just over 2 million pilgrims from around the world performing Hajj, the pressure is on to ensure a smooth and safe pilgrimage.

One of the many unsung heroes of Hajj this year is Mohannad Saber, a volunteer physician working with a team of nurses and medical students helping worshippers on their spiritual journey.

“This is a big opportunity to serve God’s guests and to serve Muslims,” Saber told Arab News.

Saber said that most of the cases he deals with are due to sunstroke. Temperatures in Makkah in August can reach 40 Celsius.

“Up to 70 percent of patients come with heatstroke, 10 percent with stomach complaints, while 10 or 15 percent have minor injuries and cuts,” he said.

Cases of serious illness or injury are rare and are handled by the nearest hospital.

So far, Saber and his team have faced only one serious case, a patient with heart problems who was sent to hospital immediately.

The volunteer doctor explained that there are multiple medical clinics and hospitals nearby to deal with critical cases.

Pilgrims performing Hajj are not charged any medical fees for any health emergency.

“It’s all free, we are all volunteers here,” Saber said.

Teams work in shifts from 8 a.m. until midnight, with a doctor and nurse on call for emergencies.

Apart from heatstroke, the most common complaint is back pain from carrying heavy loads.

“For Hajjis, the most important thing is to take care of yourself, and I would say fluids, fluids, fluids,” he said.

“Even if you are not thirsty, take a lot of fluids. Even if you are young, even if you don’t feel thirsty, drink as much as you can.”

Symptoms of heatstroke include severe sweating and a high body temperature. The elderly, children and pregnant women are particularly at risk. 


Madinah museum showcases over 2,000 rare artifacts

Updated 23 August 2019
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Madinah museum showcases over 2,000 rare artifacts

  • The museum has issued more than 44 books and publications on Madinah’s architecture

MADINAH: Dar Al-Madinah Museum offers visitors the opportunity to view historical pieces associated with the Prophet’s life. It features artifacts that capture the history, heritage, social life and culture of Madinah.

The museum’s executive director, Hassan Taher, said that it aims to promote the noble values of the Prophet Muhammad, encourage a sense of belonging and capture the history, culture and heritage of Madinah. The exhibits start with the Prophet’s life and end with the Saudi era.

Taher said: “The museum carries out specialized research in Madinah’s architectural heritage. It contains a library of relevant books, research and magazines, all of which are accessible to researchers.”

He said that the museum has issued more than 44 books and publications on Madinah’s architecture.

Taher explained that when preparing the museum’s narrative, it was necessary to reconcile temporal and spatial contexts so they created an added moral and intellectual value for the visitor.

He added: “There are around 2,000 artifacts in the museum’s exhibition halls. These include antiquities, extremely accurate models, handicrafts, manuscripts, documents, correspondence, old publications, postage stamps, photographs and artworks.”

One of the museum’s most valuable exhibits is a large collection of rare pieces associated with important moments in the Prophet’s life and the history of Madinah. 

These include various parts of the Kaaba, rare coins used in Madinah during different eras, ancient pottery, Islamic manuscripts, jewelry and collectibles from the pre-Islamic era.

Taher said that the museum has a professional team of guides who speak several languages, including English, Turkish, Urdu and Malay.