On Saturday, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia on its state-run Saudi Press Agency announced that it will allow 60,000 people on Haj pilgrimage this year. However, again this year, people already residing in the kingdom are only allowed due to the Covid19 pandemic. In 2020 it was the first time that Muslims living outside Saudi were barred from the holy pilgrimage.
Saudi Commerce Minister Majid Al-Qasabi apologized for the late announcement. Being vaccinated has been made mandatory for participation. Almost 15 million people out of its population of 34 million i.e 40% population of Arabia have already been vaccinated. He added that the ministers of health and Haj would soon add more detail about the pilgrimage.
The Hajj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is a major source of income for the Saudi government. The Hajj and the Umrah pilgrimage together earned the government a sum total of $12bn in a year which is 1200 crore approximately in Indian rupees. Nevertheless, the Saudi government believes that a congregation of people from around the world would be a breeding ground for the virus and would add to the global pandemic. Saudi Arabia has so far recorded more than 463,000 corona virus cases and the death toll has risen to 7,536.
Last year the limit was set to 10,000 people. Prior to the spread of the corona virus, in 2019, the count was almost 2.5 million.
The hajj begins mid of July this year.