Gulf | Saudi Arabia

More than 1.3 million foreigners arrive for Haj

Islam requires all physically fit and financially able Muslims to perform Haj at least once in their lives

  • By Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief
  • Published: 12:02 October 18, 2012
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: AP
  • Morocco’s King Mohammad, flanked by his brother Prince Moulay Rashid, performs Umrah on Wednesday. The Moroccan monarch was in Saudi Arabia on the first leg of a tour that will take him to Jordan and three other Gulf countries.

Manama: One week before the start of the Haj (pilgrimage) rituals, the number of foreign Muslims who arrived in Saudi Arabia reached 1,357,038, the head of passports said.

“According to our statistics up to the end of Tuesday, 1,257,994 arrived by air, 83,840 on land and 15,204 by sea,” Salem Bin Mohammad Al Belaihid, said.

More than two million non-Saudis, mainly Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) citizens who tend to make the trip on the last two days before Haj starts, are expected to arrive in the kingdom.

The visitor numbers will be boosted by the one million people living in Saudi Arabia who will perform Haj.

Haj for pilgrims starts on October 24 when would-be pilgrims go to the tent city of Mena in the outskirts of Makkah and ends on October 28, the third day of Eid.

Islam requires all physically fit and financially able Muslims to perform Haj at least once in their lives.

A Haj quota was introduced in 1987 following an agreement by all member countries of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to limit the number of pilgrims allowed by each country to 0.1 per cent of its population.

Several countries have requested an increase in their quotas, but Riyadh said that construction work in Makkah has put heavy pressure on the possibility to accommodate more pilgrims.

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