The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has said that the first international pilgrims for this year’s holy pilgrimage would arrive the country May 21.
A memo released by Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) on Thursday stated that its airport would open for the first flight carrying 2023 hajj pilgrims on Sunday, May 21 and closed for arrivals of hajj flights on Thursday, June 22.
According to the memo, departure flights would begin on Sunday, July 2 and will end on Wednesday August 2, 2023.
The memo also advised all hajj participating countries to submit operating requirements before the end of the working day of Monday, February 20, 2023.
The kingdom had announced that the 2023 hajj would operate in full capacity with 2.5 million persons to participate in the annual pilgrimage.
This followed the removal of all COVID-19 restrictions that led to persons above 60 years of age not participating in the 2022 hajj.
After the onset of the pandemic in 2020, the Kingdom’s authorities allowed only 1,000 domestic pilgrims to participate in an effort to curb the spread of the disease.
The following year, the Kingdom upped the total to 60,000 fully vaccinated Saudi residents.
In 2022, Saudi Arabia increased hajj pilgrimage capacity to one million, allowing both foreign and domestic pilgrims to participate in the exercise.
Meanwhile the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has assured Nigerian pilgrims of a hitch-free hajj operations.
The commission gave the commitment during its visit to GACA’s office in Jeddah yesterday.
A statement by the commission’s Assistant Director of Press, Musa Ubandoma, said NAHCON was “ready to organise excellent and successful hajj. We are indeed committed to achieve that.
“Now that we have ample time and opportunities to plan and diligently screened the airlines, there won’t be room for complaint and excuses.”