7m pilgrims expected to visit Makkah this Umrah season

More than 20,000 flights are scheduled to arrive in Jeddah carrying pilgrims to Makkah and Madinah
7m pilgrims expected to visit Makkah this Umrah season
Makkah (Getty Images)
By Courtney Trenwith
Tue 19 May 2015 06:53 PM

More than 7 million pilgrims are expected to perform Umrah in Saudi Arabia during the next two months, according to local media.

King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA) in Jeddah – the main gateway to Islam’s two holiest cities, Makkah and Madinah – is preparing to receive about 20,000 flights by the end of Ramadan, expected about July 17.

That is almost the equivalent to the number of flights carrying pilgrims into the area during the six-month Umrah season that finished on May 16, Saudi Gazette said.

An additional airport terminal reserved for the busy Umrah and Haj periods is expected to open this week, with a capacity of 60,000, director of Haj and Umrah services at the airport Khaled Al Harbe, was quoted as saying.

Haj – the pilgrimage to Makkah during Ramadan – is one of the five pillars of Islam.

The kingdom is carrying out an unprecedented $20 billion renovation and extension of the Grand Mosque to accommodate 1 million pilgrims at a time.

The construction work has forced authorities to halve the number of religious visas issued to foreigners.

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