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Sun 14 Jun 2020 10:03 AM

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Saudi Arabia said to mull cancelling 2020 Haj season amid pandemic

A formal decision is expected in the coming days, according to media reports

Saudi Arabia said to mull cancelling 2020 Haj season amid pandemic

Government data shows that Haj – as well as Umrah - is a major contributor to the Saudi economy, worth approximately $12 billion each year. Image: AFP/Getty Images

Saudi officials are reportedly considering cancelling this 2020 Haj season for the first time since the kingdom was established in 1932 as a result of Covid-19, according to media reports.

According to an unnamed senior official quoted by the UK’s Financial Times, “the case has been carefully studied and various scenarios are being considered.”

“A formal decision will be taken within a week,” the official added.

More than two million pilgrims participate in Haj every year. This year, the event is scheduled for late July.

Government data shows that Haj – as well as Umrah - is a major contributor to the Saudi economy, worth approximately $12 billion each year.

A separate report, from Reuters, has reported that Saudi officials are also considering drastically cutting back on the number of pilgrims allowed to enter the kingdom, with possible restrictions including a ban on elderly pilgrims and stringent health checks.

“With strict procedures, authorities think it may be possible to allow in up to 20 percent of each country’s regular quota of pilgrims,” the report added.

Officials in a number of countries – including Singapore and Indonesia – have said that their citizens would not participate in this year’s Haj, while India’s Haj committee has said that there is “little chance” of the pilgrimage occurring.

To date, there have been over 123,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country, including 932 deaths.

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