Haj Arafat
Pilgrims gather on Mount of Mercy at the plain of Arafat during the annual haj pilgrimage, outside the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Image Credit: Reuters file

Cairo: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj has defined requirements that Muslims residing inside the kingdom, who applied for this year’s pilgrimage, have to meet to ensure a confirmed reservation.

Earlier this month, electronic registration opened for domestic pilgrims in the kingdom.

The ministry said a confirmed reservation for such pilgrims requires, among other things, that the applicant and escort meet eligibility terms.

Other requirements include validity of data provided by the applicant and their conformity to the government data. Moreover, Hajj-related cost instalments should be paid as scheduled.

The ministry had earlier pointed out that 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 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.

The ministry noted that an alert confirming reservation will be received by the applicant in form of a text message on the registered mobile phone, in addition to appearance of the status “confirmed” on the ministry’s website or the pilgrimage Nusuk app.

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

Foreign pilgrims

The ministry has unveiled four packages for domestic pilgrims wishing to attend the 2023 Hajj with costs ranging from SR3,984 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.

Only overseas pilgrims holding Hajj visas and Muslims having regular residency in Saudi Arabia are allowed to perform the rites.

Saudi Arabia has 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, Saudi Arabia downsized the numbers of Muslims allowed to perform Hajj 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.