As the Hajj 2022 season drew to a close, and pilgrims from around the world travelled home from Saudi Arabia, one more surprise awaited them at the airport.
More than 100 volunteers and staff handed out goody bags from the kingdom’s Ministry of Islamic Affairs at Jeddah Airport on Thursday, with treats for pilgrims to remember their Hajj by.
The white tote bags contained specially-designed white scarves with green text and mugs, as well as other gifts.
This year’s Hajj, the first largely without Covid-19 restrictions in two years, attracted almost one million domestic and foreign pilgrims.
Those performing the ritual this year had to be under 65, vaccinated against the coronavirus and have tested negative for Covid-19 within 72 hours of travel. The pilgrims were chosen from millions of applicants through an online lottery system.
Saudi authorities allowed just 1,000 pilgrims already residing in the kingdom to attend in 2020, and last year the hajj was similarly restricted to 60,000 fully vaccinated Muslims living in Saudi Arabia.
Hamad Al Otaibi, Makkah Health Affairs representative, said “a safe and healthy Hajj season” had been carried out thanks to the government’s efforts, and added the kingdom hoped to see even more pilgrims next year and in the future. Before the Covid-19 pandemic struck, Hajj saw around 2.5 million participants.
The Quran says that all Islam’s followers who are physically and financially able should make the pilgrimage once in their lifetime. Pilgrims travel to Makkah from all over the world for five intense days of worship, carrying out a series of rituals.
The hajj follows a route the Prophet Mohammed walked nearly 1,400 years ago and is believed to trace the footsteps of the prophets Ibrahim and Ismail.
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