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Saudi Arabia Hosts First Full-Scale Hajj Since Pandemic

29.06.2023
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https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-66040873

The first full-scale hajj since the pandemic was expected to draw a record number of pilgrims. This year's numbers are well above the 926,000 people who made the Hajj last year, when the number of pilgrims was capped at one million following the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the number of pilgrims this year amounted to more than 1.8 million believers, according to the Saudi Arabian General Bureau of Statistics, which, however, is significantly lower than the nearly 2.5 million who visited the holy places in 2019. According to the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah of Saudi Arabia, they include more than 875,000 women and almost 970,000 men.

Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and must be performed by all Muslims with the means at least once in their lives. A special terminal was built at Jeddah airports to receive pilgrims. Saudi Arabia allocates an annual quota to each country based on the number of Muslims living there. The largest is allocated to Indonesia, which is home to 270 million Muslims. This year, she was given 221,000 seats. Yemeni pilgrims were able to perform the Hajj for the first time in about seven years. In 2015, a civil war broke out there. Pilgrims from rebel-held Sana'a were able to fly to Saudi Arabia on a dedicated plane.

Due to the global rise in prices, pilgrimages are becoming less affordable for many Muslims. In Egypt, even with grants from the government, the cost of the hajj has doubled, and in Indonesia by a third.

In 2021, the Saudi authorities removed the requirement that women be accompanied by a male guardian. However, the pilgrims faced other difficulties - with intense heat, with temperatures exceeding 45 degrees Celsius.

 

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