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Haj Pilgrim Numbers Will Drop Sharply

ImageSaad  Al-Qurashi, head of the Haj and Umrah Commission at the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said this there will be a sharp drop in the number of Saudi and non-Saudi domestic pilgrims.  He said “There will be 70 percent fewer domestic pilgrims this year compared to last year.”  He said about 68,000 Haj permits have so far been issued to domestic pilgrims, and this includes expatriates from neighboring countries.  

About 1.7 million Haj visas have been issued to foreign pilgrims.   Experts estimate that losses in the Haj and Umrah sector will reach hundreds of millions of Saudi riyals.  The sharp decrease in numbers is attributed to people limiting their travel because of fears over the swine flu virus.

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