Saudi Arabia Expecting 1 Million Visitors in Largest Hajj Since Covid

Bloomberg Quicktake: Now published this video item, entitled “Saudi Arabia Expecting 1 Million Visitors in Largest Hajj Since Covid” – below is their description.

One million pilgrims from across the globe amassed on Wednesday in Saudi Arabia’s holy city of Mecca to perform the initial rites of the hajj, marking the largest Islamic pilgrimage since the coronavirus pandemic upended the event — a key pillar of Islam.

The hajj is a once-in-a-lifetime duty for all Muslims physically and financially able to make the journey.

Pilgrims spend several days carrying out a series of rituals intended to bring them closer to God, walking the path traversed by Prophet Muhammad some 1,400 years ago.

That includes praying around the cube-shaped Kaaba, the holiest shrine in Islam.

At the centre of the Grand Mosque’s open courtyard on Wednesday, thousands of unmasked pilgrims circled the Kaaba.

They moved counter-clockwise seven times around the granite building, their hearts tilting toward the structure meant to symbolise the oneness of God in Islam.

This year, the hajj is open to 1 million foreign and domestic pilgrims who have been vaccinated against the coronavirus, tested negative for COVID-19 and are between 18 and 65 years old.

Those with chronic illnesses cannot come.

Authorities estimate that 85% of all pilgrims have arrived from abroad.

While this year’s number is far below the pre-pandemic influx of some 2.5 million pilgrims, it represents a major step closer to normal after two years that saw the pilgrimage restricted to just a small number of Muslims already residing in Saudi Arabia.

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In This Story: Hajj

The Hajj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the holiest city for Muslims. Hajj is a mandatory religious duty for Muslims, who visit the Kaaba, a cubic structure at the centre of the Grand Mosque.

Because the Islamic calendar is lunar and the Islamic year is about eleven days shorter than the Gregorian year, the Gregorian date of Hajj changes from year to year. In 2020 AD (1441 AH), Dhu al-Hijjah extends from 22 July to 19 August.

According to the official published statistics between 2000 and 2019, the average number of attendees is 2,269,145 per year, in which 1,564,710 come from outside Saudi Arabia and 671,983 are local.

In June 2020, while not cancelling the Hajj outright, the Saudi Government announced that they would only welcome “very limited numbers” of pilgrims who are residents of Saudi Arabia due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

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In This Story: Islam

Islam is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion teaching that Muhammad is the final and ultimate messenger of God. It is the world’s second-largest religion with 1.8 billion followers or 24.1% of the world’s population, known as Muslims. Muslims make up a majority of the population in 49 countries.

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Saudi Arabia, officially the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is a country in Western Asia constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula.

Saudi Arabia also has one of the world’s youngest populations, with approximately 50 percent of its population of 34.2 million being under 25 years old.

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