Jeddah: Saudi Arabia has announced strict health measures for this year's hajj pilgrimage in line with ensuring the health and safety of pilgrims amidst a surge in the global Covid caseload. Hajj pilgrimage is a mandatory Islamic pillar for all able-bodied and financially stable Muslims, at least once in their lifetime.
The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah official spokesperson Hesham Abdulmonem Saeed said that Saudi Arabia is keen to enable Muslims around the world to perform Hajj rituals, but that authorities will prioritize pilgrim safety.
The ministry had declared earlier that Hajj and Umrah permits will only be issued to covid19 vaccinated pilgrims. It is yet to be announced if pilgrims from outside the Kingdom would be excluded from the pilgrimage. However, the ministry has dismissed media reports of foreigners not being involved in the pilgrimage this year as well.
The deputy minister of Hajj and Umrah Abdul Fattah bin Suleiman said earlier that the Kingdom allows Umrah pilgrims from within and outside the Kingdom, given that they adhere to the precautionary requirements through Saudi's two approved applications, Eatmarna and Tawakkalna.
Pre-pandemic, Saudi used to witness more than one or two million Hajj attendees every year. However, the Kingdom had limited the number of pilgrims in the country last year due to the pandemic, with two-thirds foreign residents and one-third of the Kingdom's selected security and medical staff.