Restricted, expensive Hajj pilgrimage starts in Saudi Arabia

TEHRAN, Jul. 17 (MNA) – Hajj pilgrimage has started with the participation of only 60,000 vaccinated Saudi citizens, residents who were selected from among hundreds of thousands of applicants.

This year's Hajj has kicked off for 60,000 citizens or residents of the Saudi Arabia kingdom amid the coronavirus pandemic. The allowed pilgrims were selected through an online vetting system from more than 558,000 applicants. 

Saudi Arabia restricted Hajj pilgrimage for its citizens and residents because of coronavirus-related restrictions on large gatherings.

According to a report by Qatari Al-Jazeera, only 60,000 vaccinated Saudi citizens and residents between the ages of 18 and 65 were allowed to register for the annual pilgrimage. The year before, up to 10,000 Saudi citizens and residents were permitted to perform the Hajj.

This year's Hajj kicked off with only a few thousand people gathered on the Plain of Arafat on Monday for the start of the five-day-long rituals.

Despite the restriction on the number of pilgrims, the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said more than 450,000 people in the kingdom sent an application within 24 hours of the registration platform opening last month.

Priority was given to people who have not performed Hajj in the past five years, and those over the age of 50 who have not previously been on Hajj.

Meanwhile, the Qatari network has interviewed a number of Saudi citizens who had called off their plans to register for this year's Hajj because they could not afford it.

According to the report, Saudi officials have increased the price of this year's Hajj due to added services.

This is while the Saudi authorities have not built a good reputation for managing Hajj.

In 2015, at least 2,400 pilgrims were killed in one of the deadliest stampedes during the Hajj. Before that, at least 330 pilgrims were killed in a stampede in Mina in 2006.

KI/PR

News Code 176237

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