Photo: A Muslim pilgrim (R) is hugged by a relative before leaving for the annual haj pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca, in Srinagar July 25, 2017. The first haj pilgrims landed in Jeddah from Pakistan on July 24, 2017. REUTERS/Danish Ismail
The first haj pilgrims arrived in Saudi Arabia for this year’s pilgrimage when 325 on board a plane from Pakistan landed at Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport on July 24, according to Saudi’s state press agency SPA.
This was followed by 651 pilgrims, also from Pakistan, arriving at Medina airport.
Image: Saudi's Ministry of Hajj and Umrah tweeted the first arrival of haj pilgrims from Pakistan
According to SPA, Saudi’s ministry of haj and umrah estimates 950,000 pilgrims will be cleared through King Abdulaziz International Airport and 750,000 will arrive in Medina for this year’s pilgrimage. Another 100,000 will travel over land and sea, taking the total official number of pilgrims to 1.8 million this year.
Last year 1,826,909 pilgrims performed the haj, according to data from Saudi’s General Authority for Statistics. Around 71 percent, or 1,325,372, were foreign pilgrims.
In January, Saudi authorities lifted the quota cuts on foreign and local haj pilgrims imposed in 2013 to accommodate the expansion of facilities at Al Masjid Al Haram in Mecca.
From 2013 to 2016 foreign pilgrim quotas per country were reduced by 20 percent and the number of local Saudi pilgrims were halved.
With the quotas reinstated to pre-2013 levels, the number of pilgrims this year should exceed 2016’s attendance.
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