20230627 hajj 2023
The number of buildings for pilgrims in Mecca is expected to eventually exceed 5,000. Image Credit: Reuters file

Cairo: A Saudi committee in charge of housing Muslim pilgrims during the upcoming annual Hajj season in the holy city of Mecca has already licensed a total of 1,860 buildings.

The licensed buildings can accommodate an estimated 1.2 million pilgrims, according to the government panel.

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Deputy Governor of Mecca Prince Saud bin Meshal has recently extended the deadline for receiving applications from landlords of such buildings for licensing them until the end of Shawwal, the 10th month in the Islamic lunar month corresponding to May 8.

The number of buildings for pilgrims in Mecca, known as the Holy Capital, is expected to eventually exceed 5,000.

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Nearly 2 million pilgrims from around the world performed Hajj in and around Mecca last year, marking the return of their numbers to pre-pandemic levels.

Saudi Arabia has recently disclosed rules for the upcoming Hajj season due next June and stressed early preparations. According to these rules, no specific places would be allotted any more for countries at the Saudi holy sites in the new pilgrimage season, Saudi Minister of Hajj Tawfiq Al Rabiah has said.

He explained that places for different countries will be designated depending on finalising contracts.

The issuance of Hajj visas will commence on March 1 and end on the 20th of Shawwal, corresponding to April 29.

The arrival of Hajj pilgrims will begin on the first of Dhul Qaidah, the 11th Islamic month, corresponding to May 9.

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