File Photo: Muslim pilgrims perform prayers around the Kaaba, Islam s holiest shrine, at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia s holy city of Mecca on August 7, 2019. AFP
Egypt’s Social Solidarity Minister Nevine El-Qabbaj announced on Saturday that the first batch will include 225 pilgrims traveling under the sponsorship of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), with the remaining batches following by 2 July.
The minister directed subordinates to raise their preparedness, provide the best services and overcome any obstacles so that the pilgrims can perform the rituals easily.
She noted that a delegation from the ministry would be sent to Saudi Arabia to check hotels and review all details, before the arrival of the first batch.
More than 17,500 Egyptians applied to get Hajj visas sponsored by NGOs this year, with 3,000 awarded according to the quota for this year, the statement added.
About 1,100 pilgrims will travel directly to Medina while 1,900 others will land at Jeddah at first, the ministry stated.
In earlier remarks, El-Qabbaj said the number of NGO visas in 2022 had gone down from 12,000 to 3,100 after Saudi Arabia limited the number of pilgrims due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Saudi Arabia announced earlier that it would resume receiving non-Saudi pilgrims who want to perform the Hajj following a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.
Hajj is one of the world's largest religious gatherings; about 2.5 million people took part in 2019. The number of pilgrims Saudi Arabia will receive in 2022, however, will decrease by 40 percent to a million people – Saudi and non-Saudi alike – compared to the numbers it hosted before the outbreak.
After the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, Saudi authorities allowed only 1,000 pilgrims to participate.
The Hajj season is expected to start on 7 July and will conclude on 12 July.
All capable Muslims are required to perform the Hajj pilgrimage, one of the five pillars of Islam, once in their lifetime. The hajj consists of a series of religious rites that are completed over five days in Islam's holiest city, Mecca, and surrounding areas of western Saudi Arabia.