Nearly 1.5 million foreign pilgrims arrived in Saudi Arabia for annual Hajj pilgrimage


A general view of the Grand Mosque is seen from the Clock Tower during the Hajj pilgrimage in the Muslim holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Thursday, June 22, 2023. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

MECCA, Saudi Arabia, June 23: Saudi officials say close to 1.5 million foreign pilgrims have arrived in the country so far for the annual Hajj pilgrimage, the vast majority by air.

This year’s pilgrimage will be the first without the restrictions imposed during the coronavirus pandemic, starting in 2020. More pilgrims are expected to arrive before the start of the Hajj on Monday.

The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, and all Muslims are required to undertake it at least once in their lives if they are physically and financially able. It is one of the world’s largest religious gatherings.

The Saudi media ministry Thursday that more than 1.49 million foreign pilgrims had arrived through its international ports up to Wednesday, with 1.43 million travelling by air.

Saudi officials have said they expect the number of pilgrims in 2023 to reach pre-pandemic levels. In 2019, more than 2.4 million Muslims made the pilgrimage.

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