The annual Hajj is set to take place in the sacred city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The pilgrimage is one of the most important events in the Muslim calendar. It lasts approximately 5 to 6 days and is a mandatory religious duty for Muslims. Hajj must be carried out at least once in the lifetime of all adult Muslims. However, they must be physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey and must be able to support their family during their absence. This year's Hajj has been greatly scaled down because precautionary measures for coronavirus have been put in place. The pandemic has meant the postponement of numerous events, causing considerable disappointment for pilgrims.
The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah announced last month that it was severely limiting the number of pilgrims allowed to enter the holy site this year. Officials said the measures were to avoid any further outbreaks of COVID-19 and contain the risks of infection. Many Muslim-majority countries around the world have cancelled pilgrimages to Mecca. The result is that Mecca will see only a tiny fraction of the two million pilgrims it usually receives during Hajj. This year, places will be restricted to a few thousand Saudi Arabian citizens. Twenty-two-time pilgrim Wafa Shaheen said: "I was not upset by the Hajj news this year as I know there are plenty of ways to take advantage of this precious spiritual time."