MADRID, 14 Jun. (EUROPA PRESS) –
The Government of Saudi Arabia has announced that women will be able to make the pilgrimage to Mecca this year without the need for a man to be their ‘guardian’, as long as they travel with other women, days after confirming that, for second year in a row, there will be restrictions on ‘haj’ due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Ministry of Haj and Umrah – the major and minor pilgrimage – has detailed through its account on the social network Twitter that all registrations will have to be done “individually.” “Women can register without a ‘mahram’ (‘guardian’) alongside other women,” he said.
The Saudi Arabian Prosecutor’s Office announced in 2019 its intention to review the system of ‘guardians’ that is imposed on all women in Saudi Arabia, after years of complaints by NGOs and in the midst of a reform program promoted by the Saudi crown prince , Mohamed bin Salmán, who has included the authorization of women to drive and their integration into public sector jobs.
Despite the reforms, women continue to face numerous restrictions in the country, especially related to the way they dress and their social relationships with other men, for which Bin Salmán’s critics accuse him of hiding it under symbolic gestures repressive policy against women carried out by their predecessors.
On the other hand, the Ministry of Haj and Umrah has recalled that applicants must be between 18 and 65 years old, be vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19, not have chronic diseases and be a citizen or resident of Saudi Arabia.
The Ministry has stressed that priority will be given to those who have never made the pilgrimage to Mecca, taking into account that registration is open to those Saudi residents and citizens who have not made it during the last five years.
The Saudi authorities have launched a registration process with a total of three travel packages ranging between 12,000 and 16,500 Saudi riyals (between 2,640 and 3,630 euros), which include meals at Mount Arafat and Mina.
The Saudi government highlighted on Saturday that only 60,000 people will be able to make the pilgrimage this year, a decision taken “in line with the Kingdom’s constant intention to allow guests and visitors to the Great Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque to perform the rituals of the ‘haj’ and ‘umrah’ “.
The pilgrimage to Mecca, one of the five pillars of Islam, will start in mid-July, although for the second consecutive year it will have limits to its participation due to the pandemic, which has left more than 465,000 cases and 7,500 deaths to date in the country.
The Saudi Ministry of Health indicated on Sunday in its last balance sheet that in the previous 24 hours, 1,017 cases and 19 deaths had been reported, bringing the totals to 465,797 and 7,572, respectively, with 448,093 people recovered from COVID-19.