Portuguese / Spanish / English

Middle East Near You

Saudi Arabia mulls barring foreign pilgrims from Hajj

Few worshippers performing al-Fajr prayer at the Kaaba, Islam's holiest shrine, at the Grand Mosque complex in Saudi Arabia's holy city of Mecca on June 23, 2020 [STR/AFP via Getty Images]
Few worshippers performing al-Fajr prayer at the Kaaba, Islam's holiest shrine, at the Grand Mosque complex in Saudi Arabia's holy city of Mecca on June 23, 2020 [STR/AFP via Getty Images]

Saudi Arabia is considering barring overseas pilgrims from the annual Hajj pilgrimage for the second year in a row, Reuters reported yesterday.

Quoting two sources, the agency said that Riyadh was "worried" after a "global rise in the COVID-19 cases". "There has been no final decision on whether to pursue the ban," the sources stressed.

Such a move would restrict the pilgrimage to only Saudi nationals and residents of the kingdom who were vaccinated or have recovered from the virus months prior to attending, according to the sources. Last year, the ritual was restricted to a very small number of citizens and residents.

With a recent decline in the number of domestic infections and an increase in the number of vaccinated people, the kingdom has increased the number of pilgrims this year. Local media reported earlier that the Great Mosque of Makkah received about one million pilgrims during the first 20 days of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Before the pandemic, some 2.5 million pilgrims used to visit Saudi Arabia's holy sites in Makkah and Madinah during Hajj time. The ritual revenues used to amount to around $12 billion a year, according to official data.

READ: Saudi removes 'Muslims only' signs from highway to Madinah 

Categories
CoronavirusMiddle EastNewsSaudi Arabia
Show Comments
Middle East Monitor Webinar -  Gaza's Health Sector: Challenges in War and Peace - 17 June 2021
Show Comments