Visitors’ surge seen as number of pilgrims set to return to pre-epidemic levels
Officials in Medina, home to Islam’s second holiest site in Saudi Arabia, have reviewed preparations for the upcoming Hajj pilgrimage season due next month.
Governor of Medina, Prince Faisal bin Salman, who also heads a Hajj and visit committee in the region, this week chaired a meeting of the panel and discussed operation plans to be carried out by government agencies during the pilgrimage season.
Hajj season is expected to begin on June 26.
He stressed importance of full readiness for the annual season as the numbers of Hajj pilgrims this year are set to return to those before the global pandemic.
The meeting reviewed, among other things, an operation plan for a branch of the Hajj Ministry in Medina that features preparations for receiving around 1.8 million overseas pilgrims during the Hajj season.
Accommodation capacity of the Medina hotels in the vicinity of the Prophet’s Mosque, Islam’s second holiest site, was reviewed too.
Another item on the agenda was the Hajj operation plan for the Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz airport in Medina where the traffic during the pilgrimage is expected to increase by around 136 per cent compared to last year.
After performing Hajj rites, pilgrims usually gather at Medina to pray at the Prophet’s Mosque, which houses Al Rawda Al Sharifa where the tomb of the Prophet Mohammed (Peace Be Upon Him) is located.
The city is also famous for Islamic landmarks.
The Saudi Ministry of Hajj has said that priority for registering to undertake this year’s pilgrimage is given to Muslims who did not perform it before.
The kingdom has said there will be no limits on the numbers of pilgrims from around the world for the coming Hajj season, reversing earlier restrictions prompted by the pandemic.
In the past two years, Saudi Arabia downsized the numbers of Muslims allowed to perform the Hajj rites to prevent spread of COVID-19.
Around 2.5 million Muslims used to attend Hajj annually in the pre-pandemic times.
Muslims, who can physically and financially afford Hajj, have to perform it at least once in a lifetime.