Riyadh, IDN Times – The Saudi Arabian government finally officially announced to keep holding the pilgrimage with very limited this year. Over the past few months, the fate of annual worship for Muslim citizens of the world has been questioned because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the government, for Muslims who already live in Saudi Arabia and want to perform the pilgrimage, they can do it in July to August. While those who are abroad must wait at least until next year to visit Saudi Arabia.
1. Both Saudi Arabian passport holders and expatriates can make the pilgrimage
“It has been decided to hold Hajj this year in very limited numbers … with (followed by) different nationalities in the kingdom,” the Ministry of Hajj was quoted as saying. Saudi News Agency, on Monday local time (6/22).
The government says the reason is the safety of Muslims themselves. “The decision was taken to ensure the pilgrimage was carried out safely while carrying out all preventive measures to protect Muslim citizens and strictly adhere to the teachings of Islam in maintaining our health and safety,” the government continued.
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2. The announcement confirmed the initial report last June
The news about the possibility of organizing the Hajj in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic has been circulating widely since early June. In the report Reuters, the Saudi Arabian government is called to debate internally on this issue. One of the proposals is to accept a limited number of pilgrims, although the details are still unclear.
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The government was reportedly currently considering accepting symbolic figures in this year’s Hajj season. It was not explained what was meant by that, but it was stated that there was a ban on elderly pilgrims. Additional health checks are also said to be applied.
Meanwhile, other parties in the relevant authorities are reportedly proposing that this year’s pilgrimage be canceled. Meanwhile, the rest suggested that each country send only 20 percent of the total regular quota of prospective pilgrims to Saudi Arabia. Not yet known when the official decision will be announced to the public.
3. Normally, Saudi Arabia receives more than 2.5 million pilgrims every year
The COVID-19 pandemic itself presents new challenges for Saudi Arabia as the country responsible for holy sites for the world’s Muslim population. Under normal circumstances, the country can receive more than 2.5 million pilgrims every year.
In April, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Hajj Affairs Mohammed Banten had asked all Muslims who wanted to leave for Mecca and Medina to delay preparations, including buying plane tickets, due to the uncertainty of the situation amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Umrah service itself has been canceled.
Based on official data quoted Middle East EyeFrom the implementation of the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimage, the government of Saudi Arabia can earn as much as Rp167 trillion per year. Amid falling world oil prices and policies lockdown which is applied to break the rate of spread of the corona virus, the delay of hajj and umrah is predicted to have a major impact on the Saudi economy.
Previously, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) planned to carry out economic reforms to reduce dependence on oil. One of them is by increasing the capacity of Hajj and Umrah to 30 million people per year.
This is because unlike fluctuating oil, the interest of Muslims to perform the Hajj and Umrah never fade. If the plan is successful, it is hoped that income from hajj and umrah will increase to Rp. 185 trillion by 2030.
Also Read: Saudi Holds Hajj 2020 Without Prospective Congregations from Abroad