The pilgrimage to Islam’s holiest site, the Kaaba in Mecca, is one of the five pillars of Islam. Muslims are required to perform the Hajj at least once during their lifetime if they have the means. However, for the last two years, Muslims worldwide have been denied the privilege of making this sacred journey.
In 2020 and 2021, Saudi Arabia limited the Hajj to domestic pilgrims due to the pandemic. Just 60,000 pilgrims performed Hajj last year compared to around 2.5 million in 2019. Authorities have announced they will raise the number of Hajj pilgrims from inside and outside the kingdom to 1 million in 2022, after two years of restrictions because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah of Saudi Arabia released a statement that said Hajj is open to those under 65 years of age who have received approved COVID-19 vaccinations by the Saudi Ministry of Health. Pilgrims from abroad will be required to submit a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours from the time of departure, it added, while urging visitors to comply with the health measures.
The Ministry also approved Hajj quotas for pilgrims from all the countries around the world. Indonesia, the most populous Muslim country, has the highest number of Hajj pilgrims. The Ministry has allotted a quota of 100,051 for Indonesia while Pakistan got the second largest number with 81,132 pilgrims, and India came third with 79,237 pilgrims. Bangladesh will send the fourth-largest number of pilgrims with a quota of 57,585.
The African nation of Nigeria received the fifth-highest number, with an impressive 43,008 pilgrims. As for Arab countries, Egypt tops with 35,375 for the forthcoming annual pilgrimage of Hajj. The quota allotted for Iran stood at 38,481, while Turkey’s quota accounts for 37,770. The quota allotted for the United States is 9504, while the quotas for Russia are 11318, China 9190, Thailand 5885, and Ukraine 91.
The Ministry announced earlier that foreign pilgrims constitute 85 percent of the total one million pilgrims who will be allowed to perform Hajj this year. A total of 850,000 foreign pilgrims will be allowed to perform Hajj, while domestic pilgrims’ number was restricted to 150,000. The total number of 850,000 foreign pilgrims constitutes only 45.2 percent of the actual quota of pilgrims allotted for each country before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.