Thousands of Iraqi pilgrims will attend Hajj this year, says Iraqi government
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – At least 37,000 Iraqis are set to perform the Muslim pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia this year, according to the country’s Hajj authority.
This year’s Hajj, the Arabic name for pilgrimage, will begin on June 26. It is expected that 2.6 million pilgrims in total will participate, a figure similar to the pre-COVID-19 pandemic level.
Last year was the first time Saudi Arabia hosted the pilgrimage without the coronavirus restrictions. Due to the COVID pandemic and travel restrictions beginning in 2020, the annual pilgrimage was halted. With the ease of travel restrictions, a few thousand pilgrims participated in the Hajj in the following years. This will be the first year that the number of visitors will be at the pre-pandemic levels.
The head of the Iraqi Ummrah and Hajj Authority, Abdul Hakim Nusrat, stated that all preparations, including vaccinations, have been completed for the 37,000 pilgrims, including those from the Kurdistan Region.
Last year, at least 2,000 Kurdish pilgrims attended the Hajj. In general, the annual pilgrimage generates $12 billion in revenues for the oil-rich monarchy.
Performing Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, obligating all able-bodied and financially eligible Muslims to undertake the ritual once in their lifetime.
Millions of Muslims visit the holy sites in Makkah and Madinah annually, on the eighth day of the Dhu Al Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar.
The most famed part of the rituals is circumambulating the Kaaba shrine, which is considered the holiest site on the planet by all Muslims.
While the pilgrimage only takes six days, most Muslims spend weeks praying in the twin holy cities. Many Muslims also participate in a shorter form of the pilgrimage, called Umrah, at any other time of the year.