Hyderabad: Saudi Arabia on March 3 announced that the country will only allow those people to attend the Hajj 2021 who have been vaccinated against the COVID19.

The Saudi local media reports quoted Saudi Health Minister Tawfiq Al Rabiah as saying that participation in the Hajj season be linked to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, considering it the main condition for participation.

"The compulsion of the taking of the Corona vaccine for those wishing to participate, as it is one of the conditions for participation in the next Hajj season," Rabiah is quoted in the media.

This year Hajj will begin on July 17 and will end on July 22.

Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam. The pilgrimage would typically attract at least 2.5 million people from across the world. But in 2020, the kingdom dramatically reduced the number of pilgrims to around 1,000 to help prevent the spread of Covid-19, after barring Muslims abroad from the rite for the first time in modern times. It's a stark departure from previous years, when some 2 million pilgrims from more than 160 countries flocked to Makkah for the spiritual rituals, mostly from across Asia and Africa.

Meanwhile, the Hajj Committee of India said it will take place under special circumstances with special norms, rules and regulations, eligibility, criteria and age restrictions. The age limit prescribed by the government is 18-65 years.

The expenditure on Hajj 2021 is expected to be relatively higher than during the normal period. "Therefore, pilgrims who are financially sound enough to bear this extra expense should only apply," said, the Hajj Committee.

Any person not in possession of a machine-readable valid Indian international passport issued on or before December 10, 2020, and valid at least up to January 10, 2022, cannot apply, the guidelines said.

Haj repeater, an individual who has already performed the hajj through Haj Committee of India due to the once in a lifetime condition won't be eligible.

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