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Friday, May 7, 2021

Saudi Arabia to increase Hajj quotas for first time in five years

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Photo for illustrative purposes only. Credit: Laststubborn/Flickr

After years of reducing Hajj visa numbers due to construction in Makkah, Saudi Arabia is now reportedly planning to increase quotas in the coming years.

According to Arab News, King Salman has approved a proposal to increase the number of pilgrims from inside and outside of Saudi Arabia during this year’s Hajj.

The move to restore quotas comes after years of construction work in the holy city winds down.

Pilgrims at Mt. Arafah during Hajj. Credit: Omar Chatriwala/Doha News

It will likely come as good news for people around the world who have been frustrated with a scarcity of Hajj visas, including in Doha.

Last year, some 18,400 people in Qatar applied for 1,200 spots. Of those, 900 were reserved for nationals.

10-year low

The pilgrimage, which a Muslim is required to perform at least once in his or her lifetime, will take place at the end of August and beginning of September.

According to Arab News, the number of pilgrims hit a 10-year low in 2016, at 1.86 million. In 2007, it was reportedly at 2.4 million.

Before the quota was frozen at 1,200 people from Qatar a few years ago, thousands of visas were available to residents here, a local tour operator previously told Doha News.

Residents who are not approved to go to Hajj from Doha can still apply through their home countries, through the Saudi embassies there.

In this case, applicants would also have to travel to Saudi Arabia from their home country (not Qatar) and be part of a local Hajj company from that nation.

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