The 2015 Hajj season: tips , information


Each year Saudi Arabia hosts over than three million visitors coming for the hajj. The Islamic ritual takes place at Mecca at a determined period. This year it is estimated to take place between the 20th to the 25th of September. The Hajj visa, as its name suggests, is only delivered for the period of Hajj and is only delivered to pilgrims via a tour operator. Visas start to be delivered one month before the Hajj season. The visa is neither valid for work nor for residency and its territorial validity is restricted to Al Medina and other determined places related to the Hajj rituals. 

The number of pilgrims still not taking an increasing axe

The last Hajj seasons have witnessed a reduction in the number of pilgrims due to the expansion of the Grand Mosque. Since 2013, the total number of pilgrims has fallen by approximately 1, 100,000 compared to 2012 in which Saudi Arabia host more than 3 milllion pigrims. In 2014, the number slightly increased. This year the number wouldn’t see rising features since part of Al Masjid Al Haram is still under reconstruction for expansion. Apart from the decreasing numbers given by the Saudi department of Hajj, many countries issued advicing updates on their official websites urging their nationals to « reconsider their need to travel to Saudi Arabia for Al Hajj » after the terrorist attack in the 4th of this month. 

Useful information and tips for the 2015 Hajj season

There are two options for muslims wishing to attend the Hajj pilgrimage .The first is via the state-related option « bit’ha » : the ministry of al Hajj gives determined quotas of visas to muslim countries. It folllows a principle of 1 visa per 1000 inhabitant and it allows institutions to organize the trip in the form of official delegations. The second option is personal option : it organized either by a travel agency or by an association/group. The trip and the overall organization is treated through a direct contact between the Ministry of the pilgrimage and the Travel agencies or the qualified associations (and whose qualifications are only granted by the ministry of pilgrimage).

The ministry of Al Hajj posted on its official page that the Hajj visa is a free of charge visa. It cautioned against fake travel companies and adviced pilgrims to be vigilant when choosing the travel agency. The fake ones post online offers of low-cost packages including the trip, accomodation and visa. Not to be caught in such trapping situation, it is advisable to :

« - Not to complete the registration procedures with the travel agency except after making sure that it is licensed (with a four-digit license) in the pilgrim's home country and in the Ministry of Hajj in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The pilgrim can do this by checking the Hajj Portal or the official website of the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in his country.

- Make sure to conclude a contract that shows all the services agreed on between the company and the pilgrim. » (source : )

Newly-set measures for the 2015 Hajj season

The chief of the Saudi Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice declared by the end of august that strict and firm measures will be taken against any pilgrim not abiding by the Sharia Law.

At another level, the ministry of Hajj announced prior to this month that it is possible that it might provide each pilgrim with an e-bracelet, a project that the ministry of Al Hajj and that of fianance are co-working on, containing a barcode where all the individual’s needed information are put. The barcode stores the pilgrim’s address in Saudi Arabia and information having to do with his/her medical record. It has other functions like a GPS system, prayer time alerts, al Qibla and ther useful information that a foreigner pilgrim would want to ask about.

(conclusion) However the pre-Hajj period has witnessed tragic moments, the Saudi King has promised to investigate what has caused the crane collapse as massive crouds of pilgrims were arriving at the Grand Mosque and which killed 107 pilgrim during a thunderstorm. Along with authorities, the king sends reassuring messages to pilgrims affirming that « Hajj will go on, for sure. »

Nidhal Chemkhi