Pilgrims from Europe arrive at the King Abdul Aziz airport in Jeddah. Image Credit: Saudi Ministry of Hajj

Cairo: Around 190 Muslims from Europe, America and Australia had arrived in the Saudi holy city of Mecca representing the first group of pilgrims who are due to attend the upcoming Hajj pilgrimage for the first time in around two years, Saudi media reported.

Upon arrival in Mecca, home to the Grand Mosque, the pilgrims were received by senior Saudi officials including Assistant Undersecretary of Ministry of Hajj and Umrah Abdulrhaman Shams.

In a gesture of welcome, bottles of the holy Zamzam water, roses and souvenir gifts were handed to the pilgrims.

The group is part of the overseas pilgrims who registered via an official portal launched by the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah to perform next month’s Hajj.

The portal ensures that the applicants meet the criteria set for Hajj eligibility and provides a set of varied packages and support services during Hajj.

Eligible pilgrims this year must be under 65, fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and present a negative PCR test result, Saudi authorities have said.

Saudi Arabia has said it will allow 1 million pilgrims from inside and outside the kingdom to perform this year’s Hajj, after restricting the annual ritual to some thousands of Muslims living inside the country for the last two years due to COVID-19 outbreak.

Around 2.5 million Muslims from around the world used to attend Hajj in Saudi Arabia every year before the pandemic.