Hajj saudi arabia grand mosque
Worshippers throng the courtyard of the Grand Mosque around the Holy Kaaba. Image Credit: The Saudi Ministry of Hajj/file

Cairo: Domestic pilgrims in Saudi Arabia have until Saturday to pay the second instalment of the booking fees for this year’s Hajj as preparations are in full swing for the annual Islamic pilgrimage season in the king-dom.

The Saudi and foreign pilgrims residing in the kingdom have to pay 40 per cent of the total cost of their Hajj packages in the second instalment.

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Last month, Saudi Arabia opened e-registration for its citizens and Muslims expatriates who wish to perform Hajj due in June.

The Saudi Ministry of Hajj launched four pilgrimage packages with their prices ranging from SR4,099 to SR13,265 depending on accommodation level. The ministry also said prices of these packages can be paid in three instalments.

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In the first, 20 per cent of the overall cost was to be paid until the first day of the Islamic lunar month of Ramadan corresponding to March 11; the second instalment stands at 40 per cent with the deadline being the 20th of Ramadan corresponding to March 31; and the third has to be paid by the 20th of the following Islamic month of Shawwal corresponding to April 29.

Eligible pilgrims and Hajj workers are required to get certain vaccinations. They are one dose of the updated vaccine against COVID-19 for people aged at least 18 years; anti- seasonal influenza vaccine; and inoc-ulation against meningitis.

Some 1.8 million pilgrims from around the world last year performed Hajj in and around Mecca, marking the return of their numbers to pre-pandemic levels.

Saudi Arabia has embarked on early preparations for this year’s Hajj under a new strategy for overseas pilgrims.

Accordingly, no specific places would be allotted any more for countries at the holy sites. Instead, places for different countries will be designated depending on the time of finalising contracts.

The new mechanism aims at facilitating preparations for Hajj, an obliga-tory Islamic duty that must be carried out at least once in a lifetime by Muslims who can afford it physically and financially.