SAUDI Arabian authorities were considering cancelling the annual Haj pilgrimage season for the first time since the establishment of the Kingdom in 1932, after the number of coronavirus infections exceeded 100,000, a senior official said. “The case has been carefully studied and various scenarios are being considered. A formal decision will be taken within a week,” ‘Gulf News’ quoted the official in the Saudi Ministry of Haj and Umrah as saying to the UK’s ‘Financial Times’ daily.
The pilgrimage, which is scheduled for late July this year, is one of the largest religious gatherings in the world, with more than two million devotees visiting the Kingdom to perform Islamic rituals. Saudi Arabia could also consider drastically cutting the number of pilgrims arriving for Haj. Indonesia, the country with the world’s largest Muslim population, has cancelled participation of its citizens in the Haj, the ‘Gulf News’ reported on Friday.
Approximately 220,000 people from Indonesia used to participate yearly. On Friday, Malaysia also confirmed that it will not be sending pilgrims for this year’s Haj season. The other countries who have also cancelled are Singapore, Cambodia, Thailand and Brunei.