As the holy month of Ramadan approaches, the Middle East witnesses a huge influx of travellers every year, particularly for Hajj and Umrah. Hajj and Umrah are two of the most important Muslim pilgrimages held every year, with millions of Muslims from across the globe travelling to the holy cities of Makkah and Medina in Saudi Arabia.
Hajj is a mandatory pilgrimage that every able-bodied Muslim is required to undertake at least once in their lifetime, while Umrah can be performed at any time of the year, except during the days of Hajj. The importance of these pilgrimages in Islam cannot be overstated, and thus, millions of Muslims from all over the world come to the Middle East to perform these religious duties.
The first evening of Ramadan is expected to begin on March 22, 2023, and will last a whole month. During Ramadan, the number of visitors to Saudi Arabia increases significantly. It is believed that performing Umrah during this holy month carries more blessings than performing it at any other time of the year. Additionally, many Muslims combine their Umrah pilgrimage with the observance of Ramadan, which adds to the already high travel volume.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Saudi Arabia saw a significant decrease in the number of travellers, particularly for Hajj and Umrah. In 2020, Saudi Arabia imposed a ban on pilgrims coming from outside the country. Only a limited number of domestic pilgrims were allowed to perform the Hajj.
This year, Saudi Arabia expects to host around three million worshippers at Mecca and Medina during Ramadan. Timings of essential and non-essential services like banks, restaurants, etc. may be affected during this period. Staff and security may be increased at train stations, airports and other public transportation hubs across Saudi Arabia to manage the influx of travellers.
Ramadan Mubarak in advance!
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