Saudi Arabia To Allow Only Thousand Muslims To Perform Haj This Year
Saudi Arabia, which hosts millions of Muslims for Haj every year, has allowed only one thousand people to perform Haj this time due to the coronavirus pandemic. This is the first time in the modern history of Saudi Arabia when such a small number of people will reach Mecca for Haj and this will not include Muslims coming from other countries. The five-day Haj pilgrimage will begin from 31 July this year.
Last year, 2.5 million Muslims from all over the world reached Mecca for the Haj, but due to the increased risk of COVID-19 spreading, Saudi Arabia has reduced the number drastically this time. Saudi Arabia’s Health Minister Tawfig AlRabiah has said that along with reducing the number, this year only people below 65 years of age have been allowed to perform Haj. He also said that all the people who reached the holy city of Mecca would have to undergo a coronavirus test and after completing the Haj, all would have to go to the home quarantine.
In Gulf countries, coronavirus is mostly spread in Saudi Arabia. According to Johns Hopkins University statistics, so far, 1 lakh 61 thousand COVID-19 patients have been found while 1300 people have died. Due to this crisis, Umrah Yatra to be held in March this year was also canceled in which millions of Muslims gather.
For Saudi Arabia, this decision is a double whammy as its economy is in crisis due to the fall in the prices of crude oil in the international market. Haj pilgrimage is the second major source of income for the Saudi government. According to government figures, Saudi Arabia used to earn $12 billion every year from Haj and Umrah visits.