Printed on Wed Oct 05 2022 11:53:13 PM

Saudi Arabia expands Hajj to 1 million pilgrims

International desk
Saudi Arabia expands Hajj
Saudi Arabia expands Hajj to 1 million pilgrims, facilitating Covid checks.

Saudi Arabia will ease up to 1 million people join the Hajj pilgrimage this year, greatly expanding the key event to members from outside the realm after two years of tight Covid restrictions, state media said on Saturday.

Pilgrims to Mecca this year must be under age 65 and fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, the ministry of Hajj and Umrah said in a proclamation conveyed by the SPA news office.

Participants from abroad will be allowed this year but must present a recent negative Covid PCR test, and health precautions will be observed, it said.

Last year, the realm restricted the yearly Hajj, one of Islam's five main pillars, to 60,000 domestic participants, compared to the pre-pandemic 2.5 million.

Visits to the holiest sites of Islam in Mecca and Medina for the week-long Hajj, and the lesser, year-round Umrah pilgrimage, previously earned the kingdom about $12 billion a year, according to official data.

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