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Hajj during Covid: a special permission for 60,000 vaccinated residents

la_mecque

Le pèlerinage à La Mecque a débuté ce 29 juillet, avec la distanciation sociale qui s'impose. - AFP

The pilgrimage to Mecca is one of the 5 pillars of Islam. For this reason, it is a priority for many Muslims. Located in Saudi Arabia, the city of Mecca welcomes each year several millions of  believers who come to perform the hajj (pilgrimage in Arabic). However, due to the Covid19 pandemic, flows are drastically limited.

This year, the pilgrimage will take place on Saturday July 17, and  on Saturday June 12, the country announced the number of pilgrims allowed and several conditions allowing their travel. 

60,000 pilgrims will be allowed to travel to Mecca this year, compared to the ten thousand allowed in 2020. In 2019, 2.5 million people came for the occasion. A drastic decrease. 

In addition to the numerical restriction, other conditions were required by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, responsible for the proper development of services and supplies for the hajj : in fact, only residents or nationals, aged 18 to 65 years, vaccinated and not suffering from any chronic disease will be admitted. Saudi Arabia has already administered more than 15 million doses of vaccines. 

Another special feature this year is that touching the Kaaba will be forbidden : it’s the building located in the center of the Great Mosque – or al-Harâm Mosque – both places  form the holy place of Mecca. The Kaaba is the holiest place in Islam, and Muslims all around the world turn towards it to pray.

Although the economic benefits of these events may not be great – or even good – for the country, it still remains the destination of choice for millions of people, and a huge monument to history and culture.