Pilgrims hajj saudi stones pillar devid
Pilgrims cast stones at a pillar in the symbolic stoning of the devil, the last rite of the annual Hajj pilgrimage, in Mina near Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Image Credit: AP file

Dubai: Kuwait’s Department of Hajj and Umrah Affairs at the Ministry of Awqaf has announced new guidelines for the upcoming 2024 Hajj season.

These rules, recommended by relevant Saudi authorities, aim to facilitate the early preparation of approved Hajj campaigns.

Housing contracts and sacred site assignments are due to be completed by February 25. Hajj visas will start being issued from March 1, with the electronic application platform closing on April 29.

Pilgrims are expected to start arriving in the Holy Land from May 9. Electronic registration via the dedicated platform will open on September 1 and continue for two months.

The screening process for applications will be guided by three proposals, one of which will be approved by the Supreme Committee for Hajj.

Priority will be for those who have not previously made the Hajj. The first proposal suggests a lottery system, while the second is based on age ratios. For the latter, those aged 50 and over would comprise 25 per cent of the 8,000 pilgrims, those aged 30 to 49 would make up 50 per cent, and those aged 18 to 30 would represent 25 per cent. The third proposal considers favoring the oldest applicants.

Furthermore, the Supreme Committee for Hajj will consider another proposal to categorise the campaigns into three categories: Gold, Silver, and Bronze.

The Gold category will have a 5 per cent increase in the number of pilgrims and is required to provide 5-star services, including modern cars of at least 2024 model, hotels overlooking the Haram and close to the central area, and other VIP services.

The Silver category is obliged to provide services such as nearby housing to the campus, cars no older than the 2021 model, while the bronze category will be required to offer 4-star services only.

The Ministry of Awqaf is also set to implement a new mechanism to address high Hajj prices and reduce costs for pilgrims, the details of which will be announced soon.