Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said on Saturday that the attendance to the Hajj pilgrimage for 2021 will be restricted only to citizens and residents of the kingdom residing in the country.
The deputy minister of Hajj and Umrah, Dr. Abdel Fattah bin Suleiman Mashat, said that the decision was taken as a result of the ongoing pandemic and the emergence of new mutations. He called on authorities to ensure that Hajj does not become a source of global transmission of the virus and its variants, reported state-run Saudi Press Agency.
“Given the consequences of performing the Hajj rituals and spending long periods of time in a limited area, it makes the application of the highest levels of health precautions extremely important to protect the health of pilgrims and ensure their safety. Hence, it was decided to allow the performance of Hajj this year for those inside the kingdom of all nationalities,” said Dr Mashat.
Furthermore, the number of pilgrims that can attend the Hajj has also been limited to 60,000.
The ministry added that those wishing to perform the Hajj must be free from chronic diseases, be between the age of 18-65 and should be vaccinated.
A portal has been set up to register participants for the Hajj. The first phase of registrations will open at 1pm on Sunday, June 13, and remain open until 1pm on Wednesday, June 23.
Dr Mashat added that three additional hospitals in Makkah region will be fully equipped to deal with any health contingencies arising from the pilgrimage.
Several countries within the region have expressed solidarity with Saudi’s decision regarding the Hajj. Khalifa Shaheen Al Marar, Minister of State for the UAE said that that the UAE welcomes the kingdom’s decision and supports all measures it takes as part of its efforts to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, contain its spread and ensure the safety and security of the pilgrims and the community.
“The scientific achievements of Saudi Arabia recently testify to the importance the kingdom attaches to science as the key driver in supporting healthcare and overcoming the major challenges from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic,” he added.
Over the past ten years, there have reportedly been 150 million pilgrims who have attended the Hajj.
It is the second year in a row where attendance to the Hajj has been restricted as a result of the virus. Last year too, around only 10,000 Muslims which included citizens and residents inside the kingdom took part in the Hajj.