Saudi Arabia Likely to Limit Number of Hajj Pilgrims Due to Pandemic
Saudi Arabia is likely to dramatically reduce the number of people allowed into the country for this year’s hajj pilgrimage, which every Muslim must undertake at least once in a lifetime unless unable to do so for physical or financial reasons. Some 2.5 million pilgrims were expected in late July to visit Islam’s holiest sites in Mecca and Medina, although Riyadh may only permit “symbolic numbers” in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. While this could still reportedly entail a maximum of about 500,000 individuals from across the world, some Saudi officials are pushing for the event to altogether be canceled. It comes as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the kingdom surpassed 100,000 earlier this week. According to official data, the hajj and the year-round umrah pilgrimage generate $12 billion in annual revenue for the kingdom.