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Saudi Arabia sets a deadline for registering for the Hajj.

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In anticipation of the upcoming Islamic Hajj pilgrimage, Saudi Arabia has announced that registration will remain open until the 7th day of the Islamic lunar month of Dhul Hajjah, corresponding to June 13. The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has extended this opportunity to first-time pilgrims, contingent upon available slots for participation. This move underscores the kingdom's commitment to ensuring accessibility for individuals eager to embark on this sacred journey.

In February, Saudi Arabia initiated e-registration for its citizens and Muslim expatriates intending to undertake the Hajj pilgrimage scheduled for June of this year. Recently, the kingdom commenced issuing permits for domestic pilgrims, signifying a crucial step in the logistical arrangements for the pilgrimage. To facilitate the process for pilgrims, the Ministry of Hajj introduced four distinct pilgrimage packages, each offering varying levels of accommodation, with prices ranging from SR4,099 to SR13,265. Moreover, recognizing the financial considerations of prospective pilgrims, the ministry has devised a payment plan allowing for installment payments.

The payment schedule entails three installments, with the first installment amounting to 20% of the total cost, due by the onset of the Islamic month of Ramadan, which commenced on March 11. Subsequently, the second installment, constituting 40% of the total cost, is to be settled by the 20th day of Ramadan, corresponding to March 31. Finally, the third installment is slated for payment by the 20th day of the current Islamic month of Shawwal, corresponding to April 29. This phased payment approach aims to alleviate financial burdens and facilitate broader participation in the pilgrimage.

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In addition to financial considerations, the Ministry of Hajj underscores the importance of health and safety measures for all eligible pilgrims and Hajj workers. As part of these measures, individuals are required to receive specific vaccinations, including one dose of the updated COVID-19 vaccine for individuals aged 18 and above, the anti-seasonal influenza vaccine, and inoculation against meningitis. These precautions reflect the kingdom's proactive approach to safeguarding the health and well-being of participants amidst ongoing global health concerns.

The preparations for this year's Hajj pilgrimage come in the wake of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, approximately 1.8 million pilgrims from around the world performed Hajj in and around Mecca, marking a significant milestone in the gradual return to pre-pandemic levels of participation. Building upon this momentum, Saudi Arabia has initiated early preparations for this year's pilgrimage under a revised strategy aimed at optimizing logistical arrangements and ensuring a seamless experience for pilgrims.

One notable change in the pilgrimage process is the adoption of a new allocation mechanism for overseas pilgrims. Unlike previous years, where specific allocations were made for countries at the holy sites, the new approach prioritizes flexibility and efficiency. Instead of pre-assigned slots, allocations for different countries are now determined based on the timing of contract finalizations. This shift reflects a concerted effort to streamline preparations and accommodate the diverse needs of pilgrims from around the world.

At its core, the Hajj pilgrimage remains an obligatory Islamic duty, incumbent upon Muslims who possess the physical and financial means to undertake the journey at least once in their lifetime. As such, the kingdom's efforts to facilitate and enhance the pilgrimage experience underscore its commitment to upholding the sacred traditions and spiritual significance of this profound journey. By implementing proactive measures, devising flexible payment plans, and prioritizing health and safety protocols, Saudi Arabia reaffirms its role as a custodian of the holy sites and a beacon of pilgrimage facilitation for Muslims worldwide.

April 26, 2024 3:58 p.m. 3642

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