They will be only a thousand faithful, against some 2.5 million Muslims in 2019 according to figures from the ministry responsible for organizing it, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The hajj, a pilgrimage to Mecca (in Saudi Arabia) will begin on July 29, the Saudi authorities announced on Monday. “The pilgrims’ meditation on Mount Arafat, the highlight of the pilgrimage, will take place on Thursday,” the official Saudi press agency SPA reported, specifying that Wednesday will be the first day of the hajj according to the Supreme Court. The date of the hajj is determined by the position of the moon.
Reserved for the faithful living in Saudi Arabia
To contain the novel coronavirus pandemic, the pilgrimage will be reserved for worshipers living in Saudi Arabia, authorities said. Foreign residents will represent 70% of the faithful authorized to perform this ritual.
Saudi citizens will constitute the remaining 30% of pilgrims and will be chosen from health professionals and security personnel who have been infected but who have recovered from the virus, according to the Hajj ministry.
After having suspended in March the “omra”, the small pilgrimage which takes place throughout the year, the kingdom is preparing to face an immense shortfall, the flow of pilgrims usually generating each year 10, 6 billion euros.