Authorities in Makkah have turned away more than 72,000 people as entry restrictions related to the Hajj season come into force.
Makkah region’s Twitter account disclosed the figure on Saturday for the period between 25 Shawwal and 7 Dhul Qadah (June 25 to July 20).
A total of 30,449 unlicenced vehicles were turned around in the same period.
— إمارة منطقة مكة (@makkahregion) July 21, 2018
Makkah enforces strict entry rules to prevent over crowding during the Hajj season with only three categories of expats able to enter the holy city.
They include the holders of Hajj permits, those with residence permits issued from Makkah and those with permits to work during Hajj.
The first flights carrying Hajj pilgrims from Indonesia arrived on Madinah last Tuesday under a new pre-clearance system allowing passengers to complete entry procedures at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta.
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah also launched an online portal last week allowing Qatari pilgrims to register for the Hajj pilgrimage despite the kingdom’s cutting of ties with Doha.
The five-day Hajj ritual, expected to begin on August 19, is a once-in-a-lifetime religious duty for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it. Pilgrims retrace the route Prophet Mohammad took 14 centuries ago in what is the largest annual gathering of Muslims.
The 2017 Hajj season saw more than 2.35 million pilgrims converge on Makkah including 1.75 million from outside Saudi Arabia.