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Indians among the first to arrive for the Haj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia

Glimpse of Hajj in Saudi Arabia (Image Courtesy: Twitter/@tlifeobserver)

After a gap of two years when Saudi Arabia reopened its doors for the Haj pilgrimage, Indians were among the first to arrive.

The first chartered flight of Saudi Arabian Airlines carrying Indian pilgrims for the upcoming Haj landed at Prince Muhammad bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah Saturday morning. The annual Haj pilgrimage, where millions of Muslims arrive from all over the world had been suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Total of 377 pilgrims including 196 women from Kochi in Kerala arrived at the holy city where they will spend 14 days prior to moving to Makkah for the Haj.

Consul General Md. Shahid Alam, Haj Consul Y. Sabir, Ministry of Haj and Umrah and Saudi Passport officials received the pilgrims on arrival at the Jeddah airport.

Besides India, Indonesia and Malaysia pilgrims also arrived on the first day.This year, 56,301 pilgrims out of 79,362 will be performing Haj through the Government-run Central Haj Committee and the remaining pilgrims would come through private operators.

Prior to the pandemic in 2019, the number of pilgrims arriving  from India was 2 lakhs. However,  Saudi Arabia curtailed the total number all over the world as a precautionary measure following the Covid outbreak.

The cost of Haj pilgrimage also went up from Rs. 2,69,700 in 2019 to Rs. 3,99,500 this year due to various additional cost factors in Saudi Arabia, according to Indian sources.

Also Read: 1800 Hajis from Telangana to travel Mecca as haj resumes