Muslim pilgrims circumambulate the Kaaba, the cubic building at the Grand Mosque, during the annual Hajj pilgrimage, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Saturday, July 1, 2023. AP
The statement also set out the broad guidelines and regulations for the tourism pilgrimage.
Registration for Hajj will continue till 4 January, and a public lottery will be held on 6 January 2024 to select individuals for each category of tourism pilgrimage, the statement added.
Furthermore, the ministry stressed that tourism companies must complete all Hajj procedures by 25 February 2024.
Visas allocated for economic and overland Hajj have increased this year by 58 percent, compared to the previous season, to provide middle-income citizens with ample opportunity to make the Hajj, according to the ministry.
Moreover, the ministry stressed that companies executing the overland program must provide bus models no older than 2016 to transport pilgrims and ensure their comfort and safety.
The tourism ministry also highlighted that beginning this year, the winners of the tourism pilgrimage lottery can pass on their Hajj opportunity to one of their parents.
Similarly, winning parents can pass on their opportunity to one of their children.
Furthermore, the ministry highlighted that beginning this year, women over 25 can perform the Hajj without a male guardian (mahram).
In Egypt, NGOs play a pivotal role in sponsoring the Hajj journey for thousands who otherwise cannot afford the trip through tourism agencies.
Last year, 45,000 Egyptian pilgrims made the Hajj, which concludes on 1 July.
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam, is the pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, which every adult Muslim must make at least once in their lifetime, provided they are physically and financially capable.
The pilgrimage lasts five days, during which Muslims perform the religious rites in Mecca and other regions of western Saudi Arabia.
In 2022, over two million Muslims worldwide made the Hajj.