The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, ever since
its foundation by the late King Abdul Aziz, has been serving the holy
places and those who visit them, to facilitate performance of Hajj or
Umrah (the minor pilgrimage).
In the era of the Custodian of the
Two Holy Mosques King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz, the Two Holy Mosques, the
Holy Cities of Makkah and Madinah, as well as the Holy Sites in Mina,
Arafat and Muzdalifa, have been developed with modern amenities and
facilities to receive visitors.
As a result of these massive efforts
of expansion, development and enhancement, Hajj seasons have witnessed
continual and successive increases in the number of pilgrims over more
than 60 years.
A survey conducted by the Saudi Press
Agency entitled: “The rising scale in the number of pilgrims coming
from abroad during the years from 1350AH to 1421AH” has used
information from the yearly statistics of the Passport Department.
In 1369 AH, the number of pilgrims
was under 100,000. By 1374 AH, this figure had doubled. For a decade,
the numbers fluctuated, until they began to increase again. By 1389
AH, the number of pilgrims exceeded 400,000 pilgrims, increasingd
steadily until it reached 645,000 in 1392 AH.
In 1394 AH, there was a 51% jump in
the number of pilgrims, bringing the total for that year to 918,000.
In the Hajj season of 1403 AH, the
number of pilgrims coming from abroad (1,005,060) exceeded one million
for the first time. In 1407 AH, the number of pilgrims from outside
the Kingdom dropped to 960,386.
Because of the underlying trend of
increase in the number of pilgrims, the Custodian of the Two Holy
Mosques King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz undertook to carry out an extensive
expansion project in the Two Holy Mosques and to develop the two Holy
Cities of Makkah and Madinah and the holy sites in Mina, Arafat and
Muzdalifa to their optimum level of capacity to house the growing
number of pilgrims.
The growing number of pilgrims
necessitated the issuing of a resolution in Amman, capital of Jordan,
during the 17th session of the Foreign Ministers of the Organization
of Islamic Conference (OIC), from March 21-25, 1988, to specify a
pilgrims quota for each country according to its population.
During the Hajj season in 1408AH,
there were 762,755 pilgrims, which reached 872,236 in 1410AH. This
number increased to 1,012,140 in 1412AH. In 1413AH, the number of
pilgrims from abroad was 992,813.
Numbers of pilgrims for the period
1414 AH to 1420 AH were:
1414 AH 995, 611
1415 AH 1, 043, 374
1416 AH 1, 080, 465
1417 AH 1, 168, 591
1418 AH 1, 132, 344
1419 AH 1, 704, 852
1420 AH 1, 267, 555
This massive increase in the number
of pilgrims from abroad has been the result of the tender care,
generous hospitality, security and safety which the pilgrims enjoy
while performing the fifth pillar of Islam - the Hajj.