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An Uncertain World Threatens Saudi Arabia’s Tourism Goals

MIN READJul 7, 2022 | 21:45 GMT

Muslim pilgrims walk at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia's holy city of Mecca on July 6, 2022 during the annual hajj pilgrimage. 

Muslim pilgrims walk at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia's holy city of Mecca on July 6, 2022 during the annual hajj pilgrimage. 

(AFP via Getty Images)

New COVID-19 variants and global economic uncertainty could force Saudi Arabia to recalibrate its tourism development strategy, potentially leaving ongoing projects and plans either abandoned or delayed. Saudi Arabia’s post-pandemic hajj season is underway, with a reported 1 million foreign and domestic pilgrims visiting Mecca for the pilgrimage ahead of Eid al-Adha, which begins July 8. These numbers are an improvement from 2020 and 2021, when only 1,000 and 60,000 pilgrims were allowed to visit Mecca for the annual pilgrimage, respectively. But 1 million is still a far cry from the 2.5 million hajj pilgrims that Saudi Arabia welcomed in 2019 -- due in part to continued COVID-19 restrictions, which include testing and vaccine requirements, capacity limits and age limits....

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