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Saudi receives first foreign Haj pilgrims since before pandemic

RIYADH (AFP) – Saudi Arabia yesterday welcomed its first batch of Haj pilgrims since before the coronavirus pandemic, which prompted authorities to sharply restrict the annual ritual.

The group from Indonesia landed in the city of Medinah and was set to travel south to the holy city of Makkah in the coming weeks to prepare for the Haj next month, state media reported.

“Today we received the first group of this year’s pilgrims from Indonesia, and the flights will continue from Malaysia and India,” Mohammed al-Bijawi of the country’s Haj Ministry told the state-run Al-Ekhbariya channel.

One of the five pillars of Islam, the Haj must be undertaken by all Muslims who have the means at least once in their lives.

Indonesian pilgrims prepare to depart from Juanda International Airport in Surabaya. PHOTO: AFP
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