Indian pilgrims being welcomed in Mecca. Image Credit: SPA

Cairo: The first group of Indian pilgrims has arrived in the Saudi holy city of Mecca ahead of next month’s annual Hajj pilgrimage. The batch comprises nearly 2,500 pilgrims, who have been distributed among three accommodation centers in Mecca. Ahmed Tamar, the chief executive of a tour company handling Hajj trips from India, cited efforts to ensure maximum comfort for the faithful during their holy journey.

The Saudi news agency SPA quoted Indian pilgrims as expressing happiness about Saudi efforts to provide seamless services during the Hajj season.

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The Saudi Directorate of Passports has said it harnesses all its resources to facilitate the pilgrims’ entry to the kingdom via different air, land, and sea points, using sophisticated equipment and well-qualified personnel.

The early groups of pilgrims started arriving in Saudi Arabia from several countries over recent days in the lead-up to Hajj, which is expected to commence this year on June 14, depending on the sighting of the new moon.

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More than 2 million Muslims from across the globe are projected to attend the upcoming Hajj in and around Mecca.

Saudi agencies engaged in preparing for Hajj works anticipate record numbers of pilgrims after around 30 million Muslims from inside and outside the kingdom undertook Umrah or minor pilgrimage at the Grand Mosque, Islam’s holiest site, in Mecca during the past Islamic sacred month of Ramadan.

Approximately 1.8 million Muslims from across the globe performed Hajj last year, marking the return of their numbers to pre-pandemic levels.