Saudi Arabia extends Haj deadline to Tuesday

October 21, 2012

People planning to perform pilgrimage (Haj) have until Tuesday to be near or in Makkah, the Saudi interior ministry said.

The deadline is an extension of a past date limit to allow foreigners and Saudi nationals into the Makkah perimeters for the annual rituals.

The decision to move the deadline was taken following reports by Saudi passport authorities that applications for Haj were still reaching their offices. The Haj season will start on Wednesday when Muslims go to Mena, a tent city in the outskirts of Makkah. On Thursday, they go to Mount Arafat where they will spend the day praying until sunset before they move to Al Muzdalifa and then back to Makkah.

Saudi officials said that 1,603,073 foreigners arrived for Haj by Saturday evening. “The overwhelming majority — 1,479,070 — arrived by air while 106,619 came on land and 17,384 by sea,” officials said. The figure indicates a decrease of 52,790 would-be pilgrims compared with the same date in 2011. The officials did not explain the reasons behind the 3 per cent drop.

Islam requires all physically fit and financially able Muslims to perform Haj at least once in their lives. However, a Haj quota was introduced in 1987 following an agreement by all member countries of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to limit the number of pilgrims allowed by each country to 0.1 per cent of its population. Several countries have requested an increase in their quotas, but Riyadh said that construction work in Makkah has put heavy pressure on the possibility to accommodate more pilgrims. The pilgrimage minister said that King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud was hosting 2,000 Palestinians from the families of martyrs and prisoners held in Israeli jails.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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