Foreign worshippers will make up the bulk of the one million pilgrims allowed to perform Hajj this year, Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Hajj and Umrah announced on Tuesday.
Pilgrims travelling from overseas are expected to constitute 85 per cent of the total number attending. International pilgrims were barred from attending over the past two years due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“It is of supreme importance to the government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques to preserve the safety and security of Hajj pilgrims, as well as visitors to the Prophet's Mosque," the ministry said.
The country wants to give the "maximum" number of pilgrims the chance to perform Hajj from around the world, it said.
Hajj applications will be open to under-65s who have received Covid-19 vaccinations from Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health. Pilgrims coming from outside the kingdom are required to submit a negative Covid-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of the time of departure to the kingdom.
The ministry said all pilgrims must follow the health protocols and comply with the necessary precautionary measures to preserve their health and safety while performing Hajj.
In 2020, the kingdom closed its borders to contain the spread of Covid-19 and Hajj was restricted to 1,000 domestic pilgrims.
Last year, the Ministry of Hajj announced only residents and citizens would be permitted to perform Hajj. Numbers then were limited to 60,000 because of the health threat posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Hajj pilgrimage ordinarily attracts about two million Muslims and generates $12 billion for Saudi Arabia every year. This year's Hajj is set to begin on July 7.