Global Coronavirus Outbreak Could Cause Risks Of Fallout In Saudi
SAUDI RISKS FALLOUT – The Middle East had been hit with the new coronavirus causing a possible fallout.
Saudi Arabia suspended the “umrah”, a year-round pilgrimage due to fears of COVID-19 spreading to Mecca and Medina. Additionally, this raised concerns regarding the upcoming Hajj.
The pilgrimages pack millions of people together in small religious sites. Potentially, this could cause a major outbreak of the virus.
However, the issue is still a potential powder keg as it risks riling devotees that hold religion over health concerns. Moreover, some devout Muslims see the pilgrimages as a key right of passage, whatever the risk.
According to an article from Middle East Online, the kingdom risks losing billions of dollars from religious tourism. Additionally, it already suffered from slumping oil prices.
Sadly, aside from the obvious health concerns, some parties might take Saudi’s decision and make it political.
Religious tourism brings about $12 billion in revenue every year according to government figures. This is empirical considering the Kingdom’s pivot away from oil.
Saudi Arabia is trying to project itself as more responsible than Iran
But there is apprehension that its decision could reignite the political debate in the Muslim world about whether it should be the sole authority on the hajj and the two holy cities.
As per the article, a foreign pilgrim in Mecca said he would happily die a “martyr” if he got infected rather than skip the pilgrimage.
According to Capital Economics, the effects of suspending the pilgrimage will be substantial. This is more emphasized by the upcoming holy Ramadan period starting in April.
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