As part of a special program, the King of Saudi Arabia has sponsored the Hajj pilgrimage for around 60 individuals from Pakistan, who will be welcomed as guests in the kingdom. Men and women from Pakistan will travel to Saudi Arabia next week to perform Hajj. The Saudi King recently announced that the country would host 1,300 pilgrims from over 90 countries this year as part of the ‘Guests of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ Program.
Abubakar Siddique, an official at the Saudi embassy, explained that this initiative is organized annually by the Saudi Ministry of Religious Affairs. The ministry covers the expenses for travel, accommodation, and other arrangements for the Hajj journey, as these pilgrims are considered special guests of King Salman bin Abdulaziz.
The selection of these guests is based on their significant contributions to the host country, with a majority of them being religious scholars. Other participants are individuals who have served their communities and played a role in strengthening the relationship between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
Among the participants this year are religious scholars such as Hafiz Zubair Hassan from Lahore, Syed Hayat Ullah Khan from Peshawar, and Mohtasim Elahi Zaheer from Lahore, among others. It is worth noting that last year, 40 Pakistanis had the opportunity to perform Hajj as special guests of the Saudi King.
This year’s Hajj season is significant as it marks the first time Saudi Arabia is welcoming a large number of pilgrims, approximately 2.3 million, after the lifting of pandemic restrictions. In the 2022 Hajj season, around one million people were able to participate, with entry limited to those between the ages of 18 and 65 who were fully vaccinated or immunized against the virus and did not have chronic diseases.