Saudi Arabia returns Hajj quota to pre-Covid levels

January 10, 2023 0 By Cypher9ja

The annual Hajj will return to pre-Covid-19 levels, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced, which is good news for Muslims across the world and South Africa.

The Kingdom restricted the annual pilgrimage numbers to mitigate and stop the spread of the Coronavirus among pilgrims.

Hajj inauguration

Prince Khalid Al-Faisal, Advisor to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and Governor of Makkah Region, and Prince Faisal bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Governor of Madinah Region, inaugurated the Hajj and Umrah Services Conference and Exhibition “Expo Hajj” 2023, in its second edition in in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah on Monday.

About 81 speakers from the public and private sectors from inside and outside the Kingdom, as well as high-level delegations of ministers of religious affairs, heads of Hajj missions and higher authorities from more than 57 countries including South African attended the expo.

Hajj quota restrictions lifted

Saudi Hajj and Umrah Minister Tawfiq bin Fawzan al-Rabiah announced the lifting of the restrictions while speaking on Monday night at a conference about the hajj.

“I bring you two bits of good news in this meeting. The first: The return of the numbers of pilgrims to what they were before the pandemic without any age restrictions,” al-Rabiah said, according to the state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA)

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“And the second: Allowing any hajj mission from around the world to deal with any licensed company that meets the requirements of the pilgrims of those countries,” he added.

Al-Rabiah also stressed the keenness of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah to improve and develop all services and solutions provided to pilgrims.

Previous quotas

In 2020, amid the lockdowns sparked by the pandemic, Saudi Arabia drastically curtailed the hajj with as few as 1 000 residents of Saudi Arabia permitted to take part.

In 2021, some 60 000 residents of Saudi Arabia attended the Hajj while last year saw 1 million faithful pilgrims across globe embark on the journey of a lifetime.

This was a far cry from the over 2.4 million people who took part in the pilgrimage in 2019.

On the sidelines of the opening ceremony, the participants watched a visual presentation highlighting the Kingdom’s efforts in serving the pilgrims, followed by the launch of the “Made in Makkah and Madinah” initiative by the Governors of Makkah and Madinah regions.

South African pilgrims

Meanwhile, the South African Hajj and Umrah Council (SAHUC) has also been invited by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah for the annual meetings with the Ministry and its affiliates to discuss previous Hajj 2022 as well as the upcoming season 2023 / 1444H.

Speaking to The Citizen, Sahuc secretary general Moaaz Casoo said they were hoping to get a bigger quota to accommodate the extensive waiting list of South African pilgrims wanting to embark on pilgrimage, Sahuc secretary general Moaaz Casoo said, speaking to The Citizen.

“Based on the Minister of Hajj announcement yesterday the 9th of January, all countries’ quota allocation should be the same as pre-covid allocations.”

Waiting list

South Africa’s Hajj quota was 2 500 and an additional 1 000 that it was granted before the Covid-19 pandemic enveloped the world.

The waiting lists for South Africa ballooned to a backlog of about 16 years in 2022 from a previous amount of between five and eight years.

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