Saudi Arabia receives first foreign Hajj pilgrims since Covid

Source: Al Jazeera

A group of Hajj pilgrims from Indonesia landed in the city of Medina from where they will be travelling to the holy city of Mecca, marking the arrival of the first batch of pilgrims from outside the kingdom after two years due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to state media.

Saudi Arabia last month announced it would allow one million people – from both inside and outside the kingdom – to perform the Hajj which will take place in July compared with about 60,000 last year and less than 1,000 in 2020.

“Today we received the first group of this year’s pilgrims from Indonesia, and the flights will continue from Malaysia and India,” Mohammed al-Bijawi of the country’s Hajj Ministry told the state-run Al-Ekhbariya channel.

“Today we are happy to receive the guests of God from outside the kingdom, after a two-year interruption due to the pandemic,” he added, describing Saudi Arabia as “fully prepared” to accommodate them.

This year’s pilgrimage will be limited to vaccinated Muslims below 65 years of age, the Hajj Ministry has said.

Those coming from outside Saudi Arabia, who must apply for Hajj visas, are required to submit a negative COVID-19 PCR result from a test taken within 72 hours of travel.

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