Riyadh announced on Monday that hajj would be held well by the end of July in Mecca, but with a “very limited number of” faithful “were in the” Saudi kingdom, to limit the spread of the new corona virus.
Saudi Arabia ended the uncertainty by deciding, on Monday, June 22, to retain at the end of July the large Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, with a “very limited number” of faithful, despite the pandemic in the new corona virus that “continues to accelerate”, according to the World Health Organization ( WHO).
Only people of all nationalities “in the Saudi kingdom” will be able to perform hajj, in accordance with the precautionary measures intended to contain the spread of the virus.
Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam. Due to its large influx – 2.5 million Muslims in 2019 – it can also become a huge vector for the infection of the new corona virus, with worshipers from all over the world.
Saudi Arabia is the Arab country in the Gulf most affected by the new coronavirus, with an increase in the number of infections. Authorities have officially identified more than 161,000 people infected, of whom 1,307 have died.
“Goals for Islamic Law”
To contain the spread of the disease, Saudi Arabia in March interrupted the small pilgrimage, “Umrah”, which takes place year-round in Mecca and Medina, the two holiest places in Islam. lies west of the country.
With a “very limited” hajj, the Saudi authorities say they want to “fulfill the requirements of prevention and social distance necessary to ensure security and protection” for the believers, while “achieving the goals of Islamic law”.
Most Muslim countries, expecting a cancellation or at least severe restrictions, had already canceled travel formalities for hajj in recent weeks, and disappointed millions of devotees who sometimes devote all their savings to this pilgrimage.
Loss of income
This “very limited” shark is likely to affect Saudi Arabia’s economy, which is the world’s leading exporter of crude oil, already hit hard by the fall in oil prices, causing its public revenue to fall.
In May, Riyadh had to triple the VAT amount and announce the end of social benefits to control a budget deficit that could reach the record level of $ 112 billion (about € 103.5 billion). year.
Under Hajj and vice versa, pilgrims inject € 10.6 billion each year into the Saudi economy, according to the government, an amount that the Kingdom must end and which would have been welcome during these times of austerity.
The Great Pilgrimage is one of the other sources of income that the Kingdom wants to redirect its economy to as part of the reform plan for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who wants to free his country from its dependence on oil.