Saudi Arabia is lifting restrictions imposed on the Muslim Hajj Pilgrimage following the coronavirus pandemic forced a downsizing of the annual event for three years. The minister in charge of the Hajj, Tawfiq bin Fawzan al-Rabiah, said that the numbers of pilgrims would return to pre-pandemic figures with restrictions, including age limits, being lifted according to the official Saudi Press Agency.
He also allowed “any hajj mission from around the world to deal with any licensed company that meets the requirements of the pilgrims of those countries.”
Prior to the pandemic, around 2.5 million Muslims from all over the world usually gathered every year for the Hajj, Islam’s largest congregation, in the holy city of Mecca.
During the pandemic in 2020, only about 1,000 residents were allowed to perform the Muslim pilgrimage.
The Hajj, required of all able-bodied Muslims once in their life, represents one of the world’s largest gatherings of people.
Before the pandemic, the pilgrimage drew millions each year to Islam’s holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, home to the cube-shaped Kaaba that observant Muslims pray towards five times a day.