Saudi Arabia has allowed women to register for the annual Hajj pilgrimage without a male guardian.
“Those wishing to perform Hajj will have to register individually. Women can register without a mahram [male guardian] along with other women,” Al Arabiya News quoted the Saudi Hajj ministry as saying.
Last week, Saudi Arabia had announced that it would allow 60,000 residents, vaccinated against Covid-19, to perform Hajj this year, as the kingdom bars Muslims from abroad from entering the country for the annual ritual for a second straight year.
The Hajj – a must for able-bodied Muslims at least once in their lives – typically packs millions of pilgrims into the holiest sites of Islam.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, only up to 10,000 pilgrims took part in the Hajj in July last year, a far cry from the 2.5 million who participated in 2019.
This year’s pilgrimage, scheduled to be held in July, would be limited to those who have been vaccinated and are aged 18-65 with no chronic illnesses, the Hajj ministry said.
The Hajj would be “open for nationals and residents of the kingdom, limited to 60,000 pilgrims”, the ministry added.
“In light of what the whole world is witnessing with the coronavirus pandemic... and the emergence of new variants, the relevant authorities have continued to monitor the global health situation,” said the health ministry in a separate statement.
“Considering the large crowds that perform Hajj, spending long periods of time in multiple and specific places... requires the highest levels of health precautions,” the statement added, according to the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
(With input from AFP)