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Saudi to Allow One Million Hajj Pilgrims This Year

Saudi Arabia will allow one million foreign and domestic Muslims to travel to the holy city of Makkah this year for the annual hajj in July, following two years of severe COVID restrictions.

According to the new rules announced Saturday by the country’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, pilgrims this year must be under age 65 and fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Overseas pilgrims must also submit a negative PCR test for COVID-19, using a sample taken within 72 hours of departure to Saudi Arabia.

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“The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has announced that this year’s Hajj will be conducted according to the following regulations: This year’s Hajj is open to those who are under 65 years old and have received the main Covid-19 vaccinations approved by the Saudi Ministry of Health,” read a statement carried by the SPA news agency, Arab News reported.

“The number of pilgrims coming from specific countries for this year’s Hajj will be in accordance with the quotas allocated to each country and in consideration of compliance with all health recommendations.”

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The announcement has triggered a wave of joy and happiness among hajj facilitators from different countries around the world.

“So much to do in such little time, but I am certain every stakeholder belonging to the professional Hajj community shall rise to the challenge and help the 1 million pilgrims fulfil their dreams,” said Mohsin Tutla, chairman of the World Hajj and Umrah Care Foundation.

Endang Jumali, Indonesia’s Hajj and Umrah consul in Jeddah, said he was very happy when he received the news from his colleagues in the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah.

“This capacity (increase) gives us more confidence to set the preparation from our side in Indonesia. I would like to fully thank King Salman and Crown Princes Muhammad Bin Salman, and hope Allah will bless all of us and give us the strength to start the preparation for Hajj.”

Hajj consists of several ceremonies which symbolizes the essential concepts of the Islamic faith. They also commemorate the trials of Prophet Abraham and his family.

Every able-bodied adult Muslim who can financially afford the trip must perform hajj at least once in a lifetime.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Saudi government cut the number of pilgrims to only 60,000 to curb the spread of the deadly virus last year.