A plan is underway to accommodate up to 2 million Muslim pilgrims during the upcoming Hajj pilgrimage season in Makkah, the Saudi holy’s authorities have said.
Osama Zaytuni, the spokesman for the Makkah Mayoralty, said the city’s authorities are aiming to licence 4,000 buildings comprising nearly 500,000 rooms accommodating around 2 million Hajj pilgrims.
“We expect an increase in the number (of pilgrims) this year compared to last year,” he told Saudi news TV Al Ekhbariya
Some 1.8 million pilgrims attended last year’s Hajj season, which marked the return of numbers to pre-epidemic levels, according to official figures.
According to Zaytuni, 1,000 buildings have so far been licensed to house pilgrims in Mecca, known as the Holy Capital.
“Applications are on the rise. There is room to obtain permits until the end of Rajab,” he added. The current lunar Islamic month of Rajab is expected to end on February 10.
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Annual Hajj rites are undertaken in Makkah, home to Islam’s holiest site, and around it.
Saudi Arabia has embarked on early preparations for this year’s Hajj due in June under a new strategy, and launched associated operations earlier this month.
Saudi authorities have already set rules for upcoming Hajj.
According to these rules, no specific places would be allotted anymore for countries at the holy sites in the new Hajj season.
Instead, places for different countries will be designated depending on finalising contracts.
“The country that concludes early contracts will be given the priority in taking the appropriate places in the holy places,” Saudi Ministry of Hajj Tawfiq Al Rabiah has said.
The new mechanism aims at facilitating preparations for Hajj, an obligatory Islamic duty.