127,198 Bangladeshis set to perform Hajj in 2023 as Saudi Arabia lifts restrictions

Biman will carry half the pilgrims and the rest will take Saudia flights

Senior Correspondentbdnews24.com
Published : 15 Jan 2023, 03:04 PM
Updated : 15 Jan 2023, 03:04 PM

As many as 127,198 Bangladeshis will be able to perform Hajj, the biggest annual Islamic pilgrimage, in 2023 with no pandemic restrictions imposed by Saudi Arabia.

State Minister for Religious Affairs Faridul Haque Khan revealed the information at a press conference in Dhaka on Sunday.

Saudi authorities may change the quota for Bangladeshi pilgrims if the COVID-19 situation worsens again, he said, citing a deal with the Middle Eastern kingdom.

Under government arrangement, 15,000 pilgrims will travel to Saudi Arabia for Hajj. The rest will travel under private arrangement.

Biman Bangladesh Airlines will carry half of the pilgrims and the remaining half will take Saudia flights.

Immigration formalities of Bangladeshi pilgrims will be done at Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka under another deal with Saudi Arabia, Faridul said.

Saudi Arabia said last week it would remove COVID-19 restrictions for the 2023 Hajj season and host pre-pandemic numbers of pilgrims.

In 2019, the last year before the pandemic struck, some 2.6 million people performed the Hajj.

The kingdom allowed only limited numbers from its residents in 2020 and 2021 before it welcomed back one million foreign pilgrims in 2022.

The ministry of Hajj said in a Tweet that the kingdom, home to Islam's holiest sites in Makkah and Madinah, will impose no restrictions, including age limits, for this season.

Access was restricted in 2022 to pilgrims aged 18 to 65 who have been fully vaccinated or immunised against the coronavirus and did not suffer from chronic diseases.

As many as 60,146 pilgrims from Bangladesh were allowed to perform Hajj, a once-in-a-lifetime duty for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it, in 2022.

Hajj season is expected to begin by the end of June in 2023.

Faridul said the Hajj travel packages will be announced after Jan 25. The cost may rise as Saudi riyal has become pricier against taka.

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