Saudi Arabian authorities are making final preparations for a bustling Hajj season set to commence on June 25. The kingdom anticipates the highest number of pilgrims since before the pandemic, signaling a significant milestone in the recovery of this sacred event.
In order to manage the influx of visitors, strict measures have been implemented to control access to Makkah. Both residents and international tourists are now required to obtain a permit before entering the city. Faisal Al Shehri, a Hajj guide in Jeddah, emphasized the necessity of having an Umrah permit prior to the commencement of Hajj. As the event draws closer, even stricter regulations will be enforced, and access to Makkah will be limited to accommodate the millions of Hajj pilgrims and their rituals.
The Ministry of Interior has outlined four categories of individuals who will be granted entry into Makkah under the new rules, effective from Monday and lasting until the end of the Hajj season. These categories include individuals with an entry permit to work in the holy sites, a resident ID issued by the holy city, an Umrah permit, or a Hajj permit.
The Directorate of Passports has already begun accepting electronic applications for entry permits. This includes residents, domestic workers, non-Saudi family members, workers residing in Makkah, holders of temporary work visas, and registered contractors in the country during the Hajj season.
For pilgrims intending to perform Umrah, the government has introduced the Nusuk app, allowing them to conveniently pay for electronic visas, secure accommodations, and book flights online.
This year’s Hajj will mark a return to pre-pandemic numbers as Saudi Arabia lifts all Covid-19 restrictions. In 2019, approximately 2.6 million people participated in the Hajj pilgrimage, and this year’s event signifies a significant step towards normalcy and a revival of this cherished tradition.