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.
Muslims perform the hajj, the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, every year during Dhul-Hijjah month, the last month of the Islamic year, which coincides this year with June.
Some of the state's authorities, including the ministries of social solidarity and religious endowments, have traditionally paid for part of the costly hajj expenses for some of their employees.
The government had also cancelled its hajj sponsorship last year, a few months after the war in Ukraine broke out, which put pressure on the global economy.
All capable Muslims are required to perform the Hajj pilgrimage, one of the five pillars of Islam, at least once in their lifetime. Repeating Hajj is voluntary.
Following last year’s cancelation of the government-paid hajj trips, Minister of Social Solidarity Nevine El-Qabbaj said that the state was working to secure foreign currency resources amid global developments.
Minister of Religious Endowments Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa said in April that the previous decision to cancel the state-sponsored Hajj was so as to give priority to projects that benefit the vulnerable, such as providing food and medicine.
“If we have 100,000 [pilgrims] and each of them needs $10,000 [to perform Hajj], then we would need $1 billion,” the minister had said.
Around 35,000 Egyptians reportedly travelled to Mecca to perform the hajj last year, when Saudi Arabia had allowed a million pilgrims to perform the rituals from inside and outside the country after two years of drastically limited pilgrimages due to the pandemic.