Hajj saudi arabia mecca
Pilgrims circle the Kaaba and pray at the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on July 1, 2022. Image Credit: Reuters file

Cairo: Reservation confirmation for performing this year’s Hajj pilgrimage requires the full payment of related fees, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has said.

Earlier this month, the ministry said domestic Muslim pilgrims can pay cost of Hajj for this year’s pilgrimage in three instalments, unlike before when the fees were paid in one go.

The ministry explained 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, referring to the lunar Islamic month of Rajab, 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.

Four packages

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

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

According to the ministry, details of these packages and transportation fees depend on types of transport means and the pilgrim’s departure city en route to Hajj.

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

In responding to queries about requirements to participate in this year’s Hajj, the ministry also pointed out that only overseas pilgrims holding Hajj visas and Muslims having regular residency in Saudi Arabia are allowed to perform the rites.

Saudi Arabia this week said there will be no limits on the numbers of pilgrims from around the world for the upcoming Hajj season, reversing earlier restrictions prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic in the past two years.

However, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah confirmed that Muslims wishing to perform this year’s Hajj are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Saudi news portal Sabq reported.

The ministry also said that vaccinations against meningitis and seasonal flu are also obligatory for every pilgrim, who must have no acute chronic or infectious diseases.

In the past two years, Saudi Arabia downsized the numbers of Muslims allowed to perform the Hajj rites to prevent spread of COVID-19. Around 2.5 million Muslims used to attend Hajj annually in the pre-pandemic times.

Muslims, who can physically and financially afford Hajj, have to perform it at least once in a lifetime.