Saudi Arabia : Only a “very limited number” of people currently living in the kingdom may take part to perform the annual hajj pilgrimage, an announcement on state media says.
International visitors from making the Islamic pilgrimage, or Hajj, this year in a bid to control coronavirus has banned.
“The decision comes after weeks of speculation over whether Saudi Arabia would cancel the pilgrimage altogether or allow the hajj to be held in symbolic numbers.” It’s unclear why the government waited until just five weeks before the hajj to announce its decision, but the timing indicates the sensitivity around major decisions concerning the hajj that affect Muslims around the world.
An estimated two million people would otherwise have visited Mecca and Medina this summer for the annual gathering.
Saudi Arabia has never cancelled the hajj in the nearly 90 years since the country was founded.
The government said that their decision is to drastically limit the number of pilgrims was aimed at preserving global public health due to the lack of a vaccine for the virus or a cure for those infected, as well as the risks associated with large gatherings of people.
Despite taking early and unprecedented measures to control the spread of the virus domestically, Saudi Arabia has recorded 161,005 cases of infection and 1,307 deaths and has one of the highest rates of coronavirus infections in the Middle East.
Hajj Committee circular for Online cancellation facility to the pilgrims of Haj-2020