Saudii Arabi kaaba pilgrims
Pilgrims circle the Kaaba and pray at the Grand Mosque. Image Credit: Reuters

Cairo: Saudi Arabia has said domestic pilgrims can pay cost of Hajj for this year’s pilgrimage in three instalments, as authorities have opened registration from inside the kingdom.

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has explained on its Twitter that such pilgrims are allowed to pay 20 per cent of the cost as a first instalment within 72 hours of making the reservation.

The deadline for paying the second instalment of 40 per cent of the total cost is set for 7/7/1444AH, which is expected to start later this month.

The third and last instalment must be paid by 10/10/1444, i.e. less than two months before the onset of the Hajj season due in late June this year.

On Thursday, the ministry announced opening electronic registration for Saudi citizens and Muslim expatriates living in Saudi Arabia who want to perform Hajj this year.

They can apply via the ministry’s website, or the Nusuk platform.

Domestic pilgrims are selected randomly through an online lottery system after being approved to perform Hajj, one of Islam’s five obligatory duties.

Four packages

The ministry has unveiled four packages for domestic pilgrims wishing to attend the 2023 Hajj with costs ranging from SR,3984 to SR11,841.

The platform originally enables Muslims wishing to undertake Umrah or visit the holy sites in Saudi Arabia to obtain the necessary visas and permits as well as to book related packages electronically.

Women are allowed this year to perform Hajj without male guardians, a Saudi official has said.

“It is not obligatory [for a woman] to have a male guardian. The woman can perform rituals as part of a group of women,” Abdul Fattah Mashat, the deputy minister of Hajj and Umrah, told Saudi television Al Ekhbariya.

Priority for performing Hajj will be given to the first timers with the minimum age of the pilgrim set at 12 years.

Overseas pilgrims

Overseas individual pilgrims are expected soon to be allowed to apply for this year’s Hajj via electronic registration, local media reported.

Saudi Arabia has in recent months unveiled a host of facilities for Muslims wishing to come to the country to undertake Umrah and Hajj.

Saudi authorities have extended Umrah visa from 30 days to 90 and allowed holders to enter the kingdom via all land, air and sea outlets.

In yet a new facilitating step, Saudi Arabia has recently allowed its citizens to invite their friends abroad to visit the kingdom and undertake Umrah.

Millions of Muslims, who cannot afford the Hajj rituals physically or financially, annually flock to Saudi Arabia to undertake Umrah.