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UAE: Pilgrims applying for Hajj must be vaccinated, boosted and under 65

The UAE on Tuesday set out safety measures for citizens and residents preparing to perform Hajj for the first time since the start of the Covid-19 pandamic Pilgrims must be under 65, have never performed Hajj previously, be fully vaccinated and have received a booster shot in order to travel to Saudi Arabia, the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCEMA) and the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments stated.

They must also present a negative PCR test result conducted within 72 hours of travelling to the Kingdom. Priority will be given to those who are registered in the Hajj e-system, and whose data have been previously updated. Saudi Arabia will allow one million pilgrims to perform Hajj this year after reducing numbers in the past two years because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Saudi authorities allowed only 1,000 pilgrims from within the kingdom to participate in the Hajj in 2020. The number was raised to 60,000 last year, with participants chosen through a lottery for fully vaccinated citizens and residents.

The quota for this year’s pilgrimage, which will take place over five days in June, is less than half of the 2.5 million people who performed Hajj in 2019. The pilgrimage is one of the five pillars of Islam and must be performed at least once in their lives by able-bodied Muslims.

The increase in this year’s attendance comes amid an easing of Covid-19 restrictions in the kingdom. In March it suspended “social distancing measures in all open and closed places” including mosques, while masks are now only required in closed spaces.

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