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Without Vaccines, Saudi Efforts to Restore Hajj 2021 Won’t Be Enough

MIN READMar 11, 2021 | 18:38 GMT

Hajj pilgrims gather around the Kaaba in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on Aug. 2, 2020.

(STR/AFP via Getty Images)

Saudi Arabia is trying to set up its tourist industry for success ahead of this year’s hajj pilgrimage, but hitting pre-pandemic numbers isn’t likely until vaccine distribution increases in the Muslim world, slowing the kingdom’s economic recovery while stalling its Vision 2030 development trajectory. On March 9, Saudi King Salman approved a series of measures designed to help restart the kingdom’s dormant hajj economy ahead of the annual pilgrimage, which this year will take place in July. The measures include easing fees for companies, residents and transport that rely on the annual hajj pilgrimage for income. This indicates that Saudi Arabia is preparing to restart its religious tourism industry after a quiet 2020, in which annual numbers of hajj pilgrims tumbled from 2.5 million in 2019 to only a few thousand. ...

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