Over 2 million haj pilgrims are expected to participate in the 2023 pilgrimage season in Mecca and Medina.
Despite the global economic conditions and higher prices for haj services, the number of pilgrims continues to rise.
Saudi authorities reported that more than 1.6 million pilgrims had already arrived by Sunday, with the official start of the gathering scheduled for Tuesday.
The haj pilgrimage, an obligatory once-in-a-lifetime duty for financially capable Muslims, serves as a vital source of income for the Saudi government.
Revenue is generated from various aspects of the pilgrimage, including lodging, transportation, fees, and gifts.
Before the pandemic, the kingdom earned approximately $12 billion annually from the 2.6 million haj pilgrims and an additional 19 million visitors for the umrah pilgrimage in 2019.
Despite the financial strain and commodification by Saudi officials, many pilgrims still continue to fulfil this religious duty and express their gratitude for the opportunity to embark on this spiritual journey by purchasing gifts for their loved ones.
As pilgrims gather in Mecca and Medina, their unwavering commitment to their faith transcends economic challenges, affirming the timeless significance of the haj pilgrimage.