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Saudi Arabia Gradually Opening Pilgrimage Sites
Pilgrims circle the Kaaba, Islam's holiest shrine, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, in July during a pandemic-era ‘Hajj.’ (Stringer/AFP via Getty Images)

Saudi Arabia Gradually Opening Pilgrimage Sites

A semblance of normalcy slowly began returning to Saudi Arabia on Sunday following the kingdom’s decision to permit a partial opening of the holy Kaaba site in Mecca for Muslims already in the kingdom. Muslims from other countries will be allowed into Saudi Arabia starting in November 1 to partake of the Umrah. Unlike the Hajj, the week-long pilgrimage that pious Muslims try to attend at least once in their lifetime, the Umrah is a year-round pilgrimage. While it draws close to 20 million global worshipers each year, the coronavirus pandemic forced Saudi religious authorities to limit it to just 6,000 visitors per day, meaning about 30% capacity. In July, the Hajj was reduced to just a few thousand domestic pilgrims.

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