First batch of Egyptian pilgrims of touristic Visas arrived in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday: Tourism ministry

Jehad El-Sayed , Tuesday 28 Jun 2022

The first batch of Egyptian pilgrims that registered through tourism companies, arrived in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, according to a statement by the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.

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

The national carrier EgyptAir announced earlier that 11 flights are operating on Tuesday carrying pilgrims to perform Hajj in Saudi Arabia.

The first flight from Cairo International Airport to Jeddah took off at 2:05 am (local time). EgyptAir announced that four flights will operate to Jeddah and seven to Medina.

Upon their arrival, the pilgrims were received by a delegation from the Tourism and Antiquities ministry and members of the Saudi Ministry of Hajj, according to the ministry's statement.

The ministry has allocated phone numbers that are operating around the clock, for pilgrims and tourism companies to communicate directly with the ministry’s inspection committee located in Mecca, on the number 0558835153, and in Medina on the number 0551731706. 

Earlier, Egypt’s Social Solidarity Minister Nevine El-Qabbaj stated that the first batch of lottery pilgrims travelling under the sponsorship of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) arrived in Saudi Arabia on Friday. This batch included 225 participants with the remaining batches to follow on 2 July. 

Hajj is one of the world's largest religious gatherings. In 2019, about 2.5 million people performed Hajj. The number of pilgrims Saudi Arabia will receive in 2022, however, will decrease by 40 percent, almost a million people less, Saudi and non-Saudi alike due to the outbreak.

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 COVID-19 pandemic.

After the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, Saudi authorities allowed only 1,000 pilgrims to participate.

In 2021, the total increased to 60,000 fully vaccinated citizens and residents chosen through a lottery.

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 the surrounding areas of western Saudi Arabia.

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