Over 1.4 million hajj pilgrims arrive in Saudi

The number represents an increase of 33 per cent when compared with the same period last year

Over 1.4 million pilgrims have so far arrived in Saudi Arabia to perform hajj, the official Saudi Press Agency reported on Thursday.

The General Directorate of Passports said in its daily statistics that 1,313,946 pilgrims arrived by air, 79,501 came by land, and 12,477 pilgrims arrived by sea.

The overall figure represents an increase of 33 per cent (350,531) when compared with the same period last year, the report added.

Earlier this week, officials also confirmed that a group of nine British pilgrims that cycled 3,000km through France, Switzerland, Italy, Greece and Egypt over six weeks had arrived in Madinah on Sunday, August 20 after setting off on July 14.

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

In January, Saudi King Salman announced the lifting of a 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.

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On Wednesday, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz also patronised the annual ceremony to review the hajj security forces and the agencies involved in hajj affairs participating in the implementation of the general plan for the Hajj season this year. The ceremony was held at the Special Emergency Forces Camp in Makkah.