Browsing 'hajj' News

Al Jazeera English

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In a possible sign of thawing relations, Saudi Arabia is reopening its land border with Qatar so that pilgrims can cross over to perform Hajj.

The decision comes by order of King Salman, after his son Crown Prince Mohammed met with an envoy from Doha yesterday, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said.

The meeting, in which officials expressed “brotherly feelings,” marked one of the first times Saudi and Qatari authorities have spoken since the dispute began in June.

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That’s when Saudi, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain cut economic and political ties with Qatar and closed their borders to its nationals, citing political reasons.

Free flights

According to SPA, the King has also instructed Qatari pilgrims be flown to Jeddah via private jets at his expense.

The Hajj announcement comes as the Gulf dispute enters its third month, and after Saudi Arabia drew international criticism for politicizing the pilgrimage.

Omar Chatriwala / Doha News

Pilgrims at Mt. Arafah during Hajj

Officials had previously said Qatar residents were welcome to perform the Hajj, but they couldn’t use Qatar Airways to fly into Saudi Arabia.

This year, Hajj starts at the end of August.

A Muslim who is physically and financially able is required to perform the pilgrimage at least once in their lives.

Thoughts?

Omar Chatriwala / Doha News

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Residents who wish to perform Hajj this year from Qatar can apply for visas online starting tomorrow, government officials have announced.

The pilgrimage, which a Muslim is required to perform at least once in his or her lifetime, will take place at the end of August and beginning of September.

The registration process launches online here at 8:30am tomorrow.

It runs until 11:59pm on March 30, the Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs (Awqaf) said this week.

Omar Chatriwala / Doha News

Pilgrims at Mt. Arafah during Hajj

Each year, people are chosen through an electronic drawing and informed via text message.

Last year, some 18,400 people in Qatar applied for 1,200 spots. Of those, 900 were reserved for nationals.

However, that might change. Saudi Arabia is expected to increase quotas for visitors starting this year, because construction work is winding down.

Requirements

According to QNA, Qataris who wish to go to Hajj should be at least 18 years old, or 16 if accompanied by an adult.

Expats must be 18 years or older. They should have lived in Qatar for at least three years and not performed Hajj in the past five years.

Females who are not traveling with close male relatives must be at least 45 years old, as per rules set by Saudi Hajj officials.

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Qatar residents who aren’t approved to go to Hajj from Doha can still apply through their home countries, through the Saudi embassies there.

In this case, applicants would also have to travel to Saudi Arabia from their home country (not Qatar) and be part of a local Hajj company from that nation.

Anyone with Hajj-related questions in Qatar can call a special hotline at 132 during “business hours,” QNA reports.

Thoughts?

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After years of reducing Hajj visa numbers due to construction in Makkah, Saudi Arabia is now reportedly planning to increase quotas in the coming years.

According to Arab News, King Salman has approved a proposal to increase the number of pilgrims from inside and outside of Saudi Arabia during this year’s Hajj.

The move to restore quotas comes after years of construction work in the holy city winds down.

Omar Chatriwala / Doha News

Pilgrims at Mt. Arafah during Hajj

It will likely come as good news for people around the world who have been frustrated with a scarcity of Hajj visas, including in Doha.

Last year, some 18,400 people in Qatar applied for 1,200 spots. Of those, 900 were reserved for nationals.

10-year low

The pilgrimage, which a Muslim is required to perform at least once in his or her lifetime, will take place at the end of August and beginning of September.

According to Arab News, the number of pilgrims hit a 10-year low in 2016, at 1.86 million. In 2007, it was reportedly at 2.4 million.

Before the quota was frozen at 1,200 people from Qatar a few years ago, thousands of visas were available to residents here, a local tour operator previously told Doha News.

Residents who are not approved to go to Hajj from Doha can still apply through their home countries, through the Saudi embassies there.

In this case, applicants would also have to travel to Saudi Arabia from their home country (not Qatar) and be part of a local Hajj company from that nation.

Thoughts?