JEDDAH – Saudi Arabia will not impose any limit on the number of pilgrims for this year’s Hajj, three years after Covid dealt a severe blow to the religious duty performed by Muslims.
Hajj and Umrah Minister Tawfiq Al Rabia said on Monday that the number of pilgrims will return to what it was before the pandemic, without any age limit.
The minister made his comments at the opening ceremony of ‘Expo Hajj’, the conference and exhibition of Hajj and Umrah services held in Jeddah.
“From this year’s Hajj season we will allow Hajj missions from all over the world to agree with any authorized company to provide services in the Kingdom,” the minister told the conference scheduled to be held from January 9 to 12.
The minister also added that the Umrah visa has been extended from 30 days to 90 days and allows its holder to move around the Kingdom.
Any visitor to the Kingdom with any type of visa can perform Umrah and visit Medina, he said.
The Hajj pilgrimage is one of the five pillars of Islam, obligatory for all able-bodied and financially sound Muslims at least once in their lifetime. Hajj is scheduled in June. However, preparations continue throughout the year.
Restoring the number of Hajj pilgrims to pre-Covid levels means around 2.5 million people would perform religious duties this year. In 2019, approximately 2.5 million people participated in the Hajj. In 2020, around 1,000 people were unable to perform their duty due to the pandemic.
In 2022, an estimated 899,353 pilgrims were admitted to Mecca and Medina, two of Islam’s holiest sites. During the Covid era, the upper age limit was also set at 65, but this is being removed for this year.