Manama: The number of Muslims who arrived in Saudi Arabia from all over the world to perform Haj reached 447,302 on Tuesday.
The figure represents an increase of 53,002 (13.4 per cent) over the same period last year, the Passports Department said in its daily statistics.
The overwhelming majority of the would-be pilgrims (445,390) have flown into the kingdom while 1,912 arrived in buses.
“We are fully prepared to welcome all guests through the kingdom’s entry points,” a spokesperson for the department said, quoted by Saudi daily Okaz on Thursday.
“We are implementing plans to facilitate the arrival and entry procedures and to ensure there are no delays.”
The actual rituals of Haj, the fifth pillar of Islam required at least one from all physically fit and financially able adult Muslims, are expected to start on August 28 near Makkah.
Most of those who arrive early spend time in Medina, 420 kilometres north of Makkah, where the second sacred mosque and Prophet Mohammad’s grave are located.
Officials in Medina said that 344,534 would-be pilgrims have arrived in the city by Tuesday, a 13 per cent increase over the same period last year.
Indonesians constituted the largest community of would-be pilgrims in Medina with 59,441, the officials added.
Hotel occupancy in the city was 59 per cent with a potential to receive more than 140,000 other would-be pilgrims, they said.
The airport in Medina is one of the two airports where Muslims planning to perform Haj land. The other one is in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, 70 kilometres from Makkah.
Officials said that 910 Haj flights have so far been recorded at the airport in Medina.
They said that 25,000 would-be pilgrims received healthcare services in the city medical facilities, 242 needed to be hospitalised and 30 passed away.