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Foreigners barred from hajj for second year

16th Jul 2021
Foreigners barred from hajj for second year

 A few workers are seen nearby empty Kaaba after the precautions against COVID-19 are taken in Mecca, Saudi Arabia on April 07, 2020. International umrah visits have been halted since 2nd of March and visits for Masjid al-Nabawi and Kaaba at the Masjid al-Haram also suspended to all visitors since 20th of March 2020.

(Credit: Stringer/AA)

Nadine Osman

This year’s hajj pilgrimage will be limited to 60,000 vaccinated people from within the Kingdom because of the coronavirus pandemic, Saudi Arabia has announced.

The Kingdom ran a reduced pilgrimage last year, but still allowed a small number of people to take part in the annual event. In a statement released on June 19, the hajj and umrah ministry said this year’s hajj, which begins in mid-July, would also be limited to vaccinated people aged 18 to 65.

The hajj normally draws as many as 2 million people from across the world. All able-bodied Muslims are required to perform it at least once in their lifetimes, and it is seen as a chance to wipe clean past sins and encourage greater humility and unity.

Only about 1,000 residents in Saudi Arabia took part in last year’s hajj. Two-thirds were foreign residents from among the 160 different nationalities that would have normally been represented. The other third were Saudi security personnel and medical staff.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which is honoured to host pilgrims every year, confirms that this arrangement comes out of its constant concern for the health, safety and security of pilgrims as well as the safety of their countries,” the statement said.

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Saudi Arabia has reported more than 462,000 cases and 7,500 deaths. It has administered about 15.4 million vaccine doses, according to the World Health Organization. The Kingdom is home to more than 30 million people.

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