The Hajj - an annual pilgrimage to Mecca that many Muslims make at least once in their lifetime - is set to take place this year from Friday, August 9 to Wednesday, August 14. The five-day pilgrimage period includes the celebration of Eid al-Adha, a feast day of sacrifice in the Islamic calendar. Eid al-Adha is currently predicted to fall on Sunday, August 11 this year.
The Ministry of Health of Saudi Arabia has issued the annual health requirements and recommendations for Hajj. Pilgrims over two years of age who intend to undertake Hajj are notably required to provide proof of vaccination against meningococcal disease ACW135Y to obtain a visa for entry into Saudi Arabia. A conjugate ACW135 meningococcal vaccine should have been administered not more than five years and not less than 10 days prior to entry.
A heightened security presence along with localized traffic disruptions are to be expected in Mecca and its surrounding areas during the Hajj period. The full list of health requirements can be found here.
Due to overcrowding and the mass influx of visitors to the country, the security situation in Mecca and its surrounding areas can become destabilized during the pilgrimage period. In 2015, more than 2000 pilgrims died in a stampede during the Hajj. Similar incidents involving stampedes and trampled pilgrims have also occurred in past years.
It should be noted that non-Muslims are not permitted to enter the cities of Mecca and Medina.
Individuals present in Saudi Arabia are advised to exercise caution, allow for extra time to reach their destinations, and be prepared for increased demand for lodging and travel services.
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