Cairo: Saudi Arabia has set a departure deadline for overseas Muslims who are still in the country after they performed Umrah or lesser pilgrimage as the kingdom is preparing for the annual Hajj pilgrimage season next month.
The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has set the 29th of Dhul Qadah, the 11th Islamic lunar month expected to start on May 21, as the deadline for Umrah pilgrims and notified Umrah companies of the importance of ensuring their pilgrims’ departure by the time.
Overseas Muslims, planning to attend this year’s Hajj, are due to start arriving in Saudi Arabia as of 1st of Dhul Qadah until the fourth of Dhul Hijja, the 12th month in the Islamic lunar calendar.
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Saudi authorities have confirmed that Hajj is only allowed for overseas Muslims holding pilgrimage visas and foreign residents in the kingdom holding legal residency permits.
Violators risk, a fine, deportation from the kingdom and a ban on re-entry for 10 years.
More than 6 million Muslims performed Umrah during the current season that started in Al Muharram, the first Islamic month, Saudi Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al Khatib said last week.
Hajj, one of Islam’s five obligatory duties, is due in late June this year.
Saudi Arabia has said that there will be no limits on the numbers of pilgrims from around the world for the coming Hajj season, reversing earlier restrictions prompted by the pandemic.
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.