Saudi Arabia has announced that it will admit no more than 60,000 pilgrims for this year’s hajj.
The country said due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all pilgrims must be from within the kingdom.
A statement issued by the Saudi authorities last Saturday further noted that this year’s hajj, which will begin in mid-July, will be limited to those aged from 18 to 65.
The statement also said that pilgrims must be vaccinated as well.
“The kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which is honoured to host pilgrims every year, confirms that this arrangement comes out of its constant concern for the health, safety and security of pilgrims as well as the safety of their countries,” the statement indicated.
Last year, only 1,000 people resident in Saudi Arabia, were selected to take part in the hajj.
Two-thirds were foreign residents from among the 160 different nationalities that would have normally been represented at the hajj. One-third were Saudi security personnel and medical staff.
Each year, up to two million Muslims perform the hajj, a physically demanding and often costly pilgrimage that draws the faithful from around the world.
Saudi Arabia had closed its borders for months to try and stop the spread of the coronavirus.
The kingdom has reported over 462,000 cases of the virus with 7,500 deaths since the pandemic broke out.
It has administered some 15.4 million doses of coronavirus vaccines, according to the World Health Organisation.
The kingdom is home to over 30 million people.