Saudi expects increase in Hajj pilgrims after crossing one million arrivals

The kingdom lifted pilgrim quota reductions earlier this year



Saudi Arabia is expecting hundreds of thousands of more pilgrims during this year’s Hajj season after passing the one million mark on Sunday.

Saudi Press Agency confirmed the kingdom had crossed 1.07 million pilgrim arrivals for Hajj yesterday via air, land and sea ports.

This included a group of nine British pilgrims that cycled 3,000km through France, Switzerland, Italy, Greece and Egypt over six weeks to arrive in Madinah yesterday after setting off on July 14.

In January, Saudi ruler King Salman announced the lifting of 20 per cent reduction in the quota for foreign pilgrims and a 50 per cent reduction in the quota for domestic pilgrims originally introduced to allow expansion work to take place.

This followed a 10-year low of 1.86 million Hajj pilgrims last year, down from a 2012 peak of 3.16 million.

Read: Removal of Saudi pilgrim limits to compensate for $16bn of losses – official

Prince Khalid Al-Faisal, advisor to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, governor of Makkah Region and chairman of the Central Hajj Committee said the kingdom was expecting 11 per cent more Hajj pilgrims this year to 2.038 million.

This followed a report from the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah stating that 800,000 more pilgrims were expected this season following the completion of expansion works.

The kingdom received seven million arrivals during this year’s Umrah season, according to the report.

The ministry is now working with pilgrimage institutions to raise this capacity in the future.

Sources told Reuters that Saudi Binladin Group would begin work next month on the $26.6bn expansion of the Grand Mosque after a crane collapse that killed 107 people.

The company was temporarily banned from government projects after the incident nearly two years ago.

Read: Saudi to restart work on $26.6bn Grand Mosque expansion

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