Saudi Arabia

Where Most Non-Domestic Hajj Pilgrims Come From

More than 1.8 million people attended Hajj in 2023, approaching pre-pandemic levels. According to Saudi officials, they expect the figure to exceed the two million mark in 2024.

As Statista’s Anna Fleck reports, each year, Saudi Arabia issues a set number of Hajj pilgrim visas. Quotas are calculated for Muslim-majority countries at a rate of one pilgrim visa per 1,000 Muslim citizens. These are intended to not only control the numbers of people visiting Mecca (a necessity given the ritual has seen mass crushes in past years), but also to level the playing field in terms of distribution for those who wish to visit.

As this chart shows, many of the countries with the highest number of non-domestic pilgrim visas issued are in Asia, with the most given to Indonesia (229,000), followed by Pakistan (179,210) and India (175,025).

In 2023 the Kingdom also introduced the new Nusuk online system, whereby Western Muslim pilgrims are no longer able to book visas through travel agencies but instead must apply for a visa directly from the Kingdom. Applicants are then chosen on a first-come first-serve basis and those successful are able to book travel packages through the platform.

Prices have skyrocketed following the lifting of the Covid pandemic restrictions, in part due to global inflation, as well as a VAT hike from 5 percent up to 15 percent in Saudi Arabia in 2020. This is in addition to multiple economic crises around the world. According to AP, these higher costs mean some countries even struggled to meet their visa allocations in 2023, which is unusual given that previously there had usually been far greater demand than visas available.

The Hajj is the final of the five pillars of Islam, outlining that every Muslim who is of adult age is to complete the religious pilgrimage in their lifetime, so long as they are financially and physically able.



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