Saudi Arabia granted additional visas to countries this year due to the reduction of quotas within the framework of pandemic measures in the previous 2 years and the age limit of 65.
Türkiye's fixed Hajj quota of 83,430 people, which is 1 in a thousand, provided visa opportunities for an additional 5,000 people. Thus, the number of pilgrims coming with the organization of the Presidency of Religious Affairs in 2023 became 88,430.
However, it is observed that the number of people coming from Türkiye with visas such as butchers and technical personnel is high this year. Approximately 120,000 Turkish citizens are expected to perform Hajj in 2023.
Due to the limited physical conditions available for Hajj in Makkah al-Mukarrama, the Saudi government can only allow a maximum of 4 million people into the city during Hajj.
For this reason, it applies quotas to countries for Hajj visas. The practice, which has been in place for many years, provides visa opportunities at the rate of 1 per thousand of the population of Muslim countries.
However, in countries like Türkiye, which has a large young population and a good economic situation, the 1 per thousand Hajj quota is not enough even in normal times. In Türkiye, about 2.5 million people are currently waiting in line for Hajj visas, which are granted by lottery. Every year lots are drawn. As the years go by, the number of people who enter the lottery increases exponentially.
There are also those who wait for 10 years to fulfill the pilgrimage. After the pandemic, Muslims mobilized all their means this year to fulfill their pilgrimage duty and reached the blessed lands.
The intensity in the Kaaba started as of today. On the first day of the month of Dhu al-Hijjah, the number of people arriving in the holy land reached 2 million. The pilgrims who can enter the blessed land with ihram, perform Umrah tawaaf and Say'ah and then shave and get out of ihram.
While those coming from distant countries reach Jeddah Airport by airplane, there are also flights by ships from African countries facing the Arabian Peninsula. Meanwhile, some Gulf countries can easily reach Saudi Arabia by land. Hajj visas are applied to all of these countries.
This year, Saudi Arabia is checking the visas of 5 countries, including Türkiye, which have regular systems, while boarding the plane from their homelands and allowing them to exit without waiting at Jeddah Airport. For each pilgrim, Saudi Arabia collects 5,100 riyals from Türkiye for some services such as footsteps and Arafat service.
Turkish pilgrims, like pilgrims from every country, are very excited when they see the Kaaba Muazzama. A pilgrim from Sanliurfa said, "Alhamdulillah, we came this year. May God grant it to everyone. It is very crowded this year. Our longing is over." It is seen that the profile of the pilgrims coming this year has also aged with the lifting of the age limit of 65, which has been in effect for 2 years.
The global economic downturn has also increased hotel and service prices in Saudi Arabia. This year, many countries have increased their hajj prices by 10 to 25 percent in riyal terms. There are pilgrimage groups from Türkiye with prices between 24,000 riyals (7,000 dollars) and 50,000 riyals. Muslims from Aleppo, who come from the Syrian quota, can fulfill their pilgrimage duty with a cost of 4,500 dollars and more limited opportunities. Each country has different service categories in its own organizations.
Source: Ihlas News Agency