Nearly two million pilgrims perform hajj

Muslim pilgrims arrive to cast seven pebbles at a pillar that symbolizes Satan during the annual haj pilgrimage, on the first day of Eid al-Adha in Mina, near the holy city of Mecca October 15, 2013. (Reuters)

Saudi Arabia said Tuesday that around 1.98 million pilgrims are performing this year's annual Muslim pilgrimage, the hajj, sharply fewer than last year due to reduced quotas.

The Public Statistics Department said in a statement cited by the official SPA agency that 1.38 million pilgrims came from overseas, down 21 percent on last year's 1.75 million.

Another 600,700 pilgrims came from within the kingdom, a drop of 57 percent from 1.4 million in 2012. Most of them are expatriates living in the kingdom.

The department said the total number of pilgrims is down 37.3 percent from 3.16 million last year.

The kingdom cut quotas for pilgrims from abroad by 20 percent and vowed to slash domestics by half due to construction work in the Grand Mosque in Makkah and because of fears from MERS coronavirus.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 13:51 - GMT 10:51