Saudi Arabia Plans to Bring Number of Haj Pilgrims Back to pre-Covid Level

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RIYADH — Saudi Arabia announced its plan to bring the number of pilgrims during the upcoming Haj season back to the pre-Covid level.

“The number of pilgrims will return to what it was before the pandemic, without any age limit,” Minister of Haj and Umrah Tawfiq Al-Rabiah told reporters here.

He made the remarks during the opening ceremony of Expo Haj, a four-day conference-cum-exhibition on Haj and Umrah services held in Jeddah which will run until Thursday.

The Minister also revealed that the insurance cost for Umrah performers would be slashed by 63 per cent and by 73 per cent for Haj pilgrims.

The Haj season in 2022 was the first one to allow foreign pilgrims to perform after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020, as the previous two seasons were limited only to domestic pilgrims.

About 60,000 fully vaccinated domestic pilgrims took part in the pilgrimage in 2021 and only 1,000 in 2020.

Following the last pilgrimage, Saudi Arabia extended the Umrah visa from 30 days to 90 days and allows its holder to move all around the kingdom.

In the pre-pandemic 2019 Haj season, about 2.5 million pilgrims had participated. — IANS

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