This year, Tajik Muslims will also not be able to perform the Hajj as Saudi Arabia bars foreign pilgrims from Hajj due to COVID.

Al Jazeera says no foreign pilgrims will be allowed to perform the Hajj once again this year after Saudi Arabia restricted the annual pilgrimage to citizens and residents, and set a maximum of 60,000 pilgrims in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

An estimated two million people would otherwise have visited Mecca and Medina this summer for the annual gathering.

“Those wishing to perform the hajj must be free of chronic diseases and be vaccinated” and between the ages of 18 and 65, the Saudi Ministry of hajj and Umrah said in its statement on June 12,    

“In light of what the whole world is witnessing with the coronavirus pandemic … and the emergence of new variants, the relevant authorities have continued to monitor the global health situation,” the statement added.

Last year, the kingdom reduced the number of pilgrims to about 1,000 Saudi citizens and residents to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, after barring Muslims abroad from the rite for the first time in modern times.

Two-thirds were residents from among the 160 different nationalities that would have normally been represented at the Hajj.  One-third were Saudi security personnel and medical staff.

This year the pilgrimage is expected to start in mid-July, from July 17-22.

Meanwhile, Arab News reported on June 14 that Saudi Arabia has recorded 11 new COVID-19 related deaths, raising the total number of fatalities to 6,765.

The Saudi Ministry of Health reportedly confirmed 842 new confirmed cases reported in the Kingdom in the previous 24 hours, meaning 399,277 people have now contracted the disease.  Of the total number of cases, 8,485 remain active and 950 in critical condition.

According to the ministry, the highest number of cases were recorded in the capital Riyadh with 365, followed by Mecca with 150, the Eastern Province with 147, Asir recorded 34 and Hail confirmed 32 cases.

Each year, Saudi Arabia welcomes millions of Muslims from abroad traveling on Umrah and Hajj.  Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam, is a pilgrimage to Mecca which adult Muslims must make at least one in their lifetime, provided they are physically and financially able. The Hajj is a demonstration of the solidarity of the Muslim people, and their submission to God.  The pilgrimage occurs from the 8th to 12th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the 12th and last month of the Islamic calendar.  Because the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, eleven days shorter than the Gregorian calendar, the Gregorian date of the Hajj changes from year to year.