Saudi Arabia lifts COVID-related restrictions and age limitations for Hajj pilgrims this year

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Media reports say Saudi Arabia is lifting age limitations and COVID-related restrictions for Hajj 2023.

Arabian Business cited Minister of Hajj and Umrah Tawfiq al-Rabiah as saying that Saudi Arabia will no longer impose limits on the number of pilgrims it allows at Hajj this year.

According to him, age limits and travel restrictions are to be lifted this year.

“Number of Hajj pilgrims in 1444H will return to how it was before the Coronavirus pandemic without age restrictions," the Ministry's official Twitter quoted him as saying during the opening of Hajj Expo 2023.

Saudi authorities have also said that those who have never performed Hajj will be prioritized for the 2023 pilgrimage.

Last year around 900,000 pilgrims were reportedly welcomed to Saudi Arabia’s holiest cities, down from around 2.5 million before the coronavirus pandemic.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, an estimated 2.5 million people performed Hajj to Mecca in 2019.

Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and is a pilgrimage every adult Muslim must make at least once in their lifetime if they have the means.

Each year, Saudi Arabia welcomes millions of Muslims from abroad traveling on Umrah and Hajj. Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam, is a pilgrimage to Mecca which adult Muslims must make at least one in their lifetime, provided they are physically and financially able. The Hajj is a demonstration of the solidarity of the Muslim people, and their submission to God. The pilgrimage occurs from the 8th to 12th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the 12th and last month of the Islamic calendar. Because the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, eleven days shorter than the Gregorian calendar, the Gregorian date of the Hajj changes from year to year.

Recall, Tajikistan’s Committee on Religious Affairs (CRA) has introduced age restrictions on those who want to perform the Hajj. For the first time, the CRA introduced age restrictions in 2010. Only citizens aged 18 to 80 were able to perform the Hajj. In April 2015, Tajik authorities introduced new age restrictions. Citizens under the age of 35 were no longer allowed to perform the Hajj. In 2016, the new age restrictions were instituted raising the age limit for 39 to 40. The aim of the decision to introduce new age restrictions is reportedly to give older people an opportunity to achieve their dream to perform the Hajj.

In 2011, the CRA designed a new Hajj uniform; men don two-piece suits, while women wear long-sleeved dresses complete with headscarves. The Tajik Hajj uniform is embroidered with the country’s symbols.

Source: Asia-Plus