S. Arabia prepares to host international Hajj pilgrims since pandemic began

Riyadh, Jun 7 (EFE).- Saudi Arabia has intensified its preparations to welcome the first foreign Hajj pilgrims since the Covid-19 pandemic began.

One million Muslims, including international travellers, will be allowed to perform Hajj in the holy city of Mecca in July, compared to just 1,000 residents in 2020 and 60,000 last year. It remains, however, well below 2019’s 2.5 million pilgrims.

The operational plan enables pilgrims from Indonesia, Malaysia, Morocco, Bangladesh and Pakistan to finish the procedures in their countries of origin, including passports and luggage controls, to avoid crowds at the airport.

With most of the coronavirus-driven restrictions lifted in March, pilgrims are only required to provide vaccination certificate, a negative PCR for those who come from abroad and must be under 65.

An online platform has been created for the registration of faithful from Europe, the United States, Latin America and Australia, the pilgrimage ministry said on Twitter.

In the holy month of Ramadan, some 6.7 million Muslims visited Mecca and Medina for the minor pilgrimage, Umrah, which can be performed throughout the year.

Religious tourism is a guaranteed source of income for the Arab kingdom and includes the Umrah and Hajj. According to the Islam’s teachings, every Muslim must perform Hajj at least once in their life if their physical and economic conditions allow it. EFE


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