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Saudi Arabia expects 1mn inbound pilgrims for Hajj; readies additional facilities

Saudi Arabia is working diligently to ready its facilities for the upcoming Hajj season, expecting to welcome approximately one million pilgrims from all corners of the globe. This marks the first full-capacity Hajj since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, reports Gulf News.

General supervisor for one of the companies in Mina, Mustafa Hadi, confirmed that preparations are underway for the Mina tents, including maintenance of electricity and plumbing, painting and gypsum works, toilet installations inside the camps, and decorative works.

Over the next few days, camps will also be equipped with restaurants, beds, blankets, and other necessary arrangements to welcome pilgrims during the Tarwiyah (water provision) and three Tashriq days.

Mina, situated within the holy sites’ borders between Mecca and Muzdalifah, 7km from the Holy Mosque, can only be inhabited during the Hajj period.

The first foreign pilgrims arrived in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina last Sunday, Dhul Qada 1, corresponding to May 22, marking the beginning of the annual Hajj pilgrimage season. The initial batches included those from Malaysia and Bangladesh under the Mecca Route’ initiative. The first groups of Indian pilgrims arrived on scheduled flights in Medina yesterday.

The General Directorate of Passports reaffirmed its readiness to efficiently handle the necessary procedures at international airports, land borders, and seaports. It added that it is leveraging state-of-the-art technological devices to streamline operations and facilitate the entry of pilgrims.

Following the global pandemic, the Hajj seasons of 2020 and 2021 restricted the annual pilgrimage to a limited number of domestic pilgrims under strict COVID-19 protocols. Foreign pilgrims were allowed in limited capacity during the Hajj of 2022 under certain restrictions, including age.

The Saudi Ministry of Interior has expanded the Mecca Route initiative this year to include Turkey and the Ivory Coast. The initiative aims to streamline travel procedures for pilgrims from their home countries, including the issuance of electronic visas, biometric collection, passport procedures, and health requirement verification. (Source: Gulf News)

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