The Saudi Hajj Ministry “Authorized one million foreign or domestic pilgrims to perform the Hajj this year”, he announced on Saturday, April 9, in a statement. This annual pilgrimage to Mecca will take place from July 7 to 12, 2022.
The government wants to ensure the safety of pilgrims, “While ensuring that as many Muslims in the world as possible can perform the Hajj”continues the statement.
Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam, must be performed by all Muslims who can afford it at least once in their lives. It is one of the largest religious gatherings in the world. About 2.5 million people participated in 2019.
Following the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020, the Saudi authorities have only allowed 1,000 pilgrims to take part. The following year, they authorized 60,000 fully vaccinated residents selected by lot. These restrictions fueled the resentment of Muslims abroad who were not allowed to participate.
Access conditions ranging from vaccine to PCR testing
According to the announcement made on Saturday, this year the Hajj will be limited to vaccinated pilgrims under the age of 65. Those from outside Saudi Arabia will be required to take a negative PCR test of less than seventy-two hours.
The Hajj is a series of five-day religious rites in Islam’s holiest city, Mecca, and the surrounding areas of western Saudi Arabia. The reception of the Hajj is a matter of prestige for Saudi leaders, with responsibility for Islam’s most sacred sites establishing their political legitimacy.
Prior to the pandemic, the pilgrimage was a major source of revenue for the kingdom, earning some $ 12 billion (11 billion euros) a year.
The kingdom of about 34 million people has had more than 751,000 coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic and 9,055 deaths, according to the Ministry of Health. In early March, he announced the lifting of most restrictions on Covid-19, including physical distance in public places and quarantine for vaccinated newcomers, while masks are now only required in closed areas. .