ISLAMABAD: Hajj may be more expensive this year if it allowed by the Saudi government amid the COVID-19 pandemic, says Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri.
Saudi Arabia has yet to tell any country if it will allow Hajj in 2021 or not. But Pakistan’s Hajj Directorate in Jeddah is in regular contact with the Saudi Arabia Hajj Secretariat. The operational cost of Hajj is expected to increase for every country this year because of the implementation of coronavirus SOPs.
“We have officially written to the Ministry of National Health Services Regulations and Coordination for provision of COVID vaccine for pilgrims. The ministry is planning to procure vaccines for healthcare personnel initially from China. We have requested the ministry to put pilgrims in the priority category too,” Qadri said.
He said if the Saudi government allows Hajj this year, Pakistan will then vaccinate the pilgrims before their departure. But it is yet to be seen if the Saudi government approves the Chinese vaccine or not, he said, hoping Saudi Arabia doesn’t object to the Chinese vaccine.
Last week, Pakistan’s Hajj director-general had a meeting with Saudi Arabia’s Hajj secretary to inquire about the Hajj plans for 2021. The Saudi authorities assured that they will inform the directorate about the Hajj plans soon.