JEDDAH — The number of Umrah pilgrims dropped this season by 10 percent compared to the same period last year, according to Abdullah Ghadi, deputy head of the National Committee for Haj and Umrah at the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI).
This season 1.8 million Umrah pilgrims have arrived so far. Last year two million Umrah pilgrims had arrived during this period.
The Ministry of Haj had set a target of 1.2 million pilgrims each month, but the average is only 800,000.
Ghadi said the countries that witnessed a drop include Indonesia, Turkey, Jordan, Morocco, Iraq, Libya and Iran. Only Egypt and Pakistan witnessed a 20 percent increase in the number of their pilgrims.
Ghadi attributed the drop to a number of factors including economic and political issues.
He said that countries that have no Saudi embassies cooperate with Saudi missions in nearby countries for visas as was the case with Iraq. Currently Libya sends its pilgrims on visas issued by Saudi missions in Tunisia.