The six day Muslim pilgrimage known as the hajj will welcome 1.6 million Muslims as relations between Qatar and Saudi Arabia remain tense. Many Egyptians have been unable to afford the journey as the economy splutters.
Qatar has accused Saudi Arabia of barring its nationals from performing this year’s Hajj, a charge Saudi officials deny.
Around 1,200 Qatari citizens are allowed to attend the pilgrimage under a quota system, but Qatari officials say it has become impossible to register for the annual religious event.
Saudi Arabia, alongside the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt, severed relations with Qatar in June 2017, and has placed the Gulf state under a land, sea, and air blockade. Qatari nationals are also banned from entering the states, but Riyadh claims to have made an exception for the Hajj.
.Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee said Riyadh had shut down an electronic registration system used by travel agencies to obtain permits for Qatari pilgrims.
“There is no chance this year for Qatari citizens and residents to travel for hajj,” the committee’s Abdullah al-Kaabi said. “Registration of pilgrims from the State of Qatar remains closed, and residents of Qatar cannot be granted visas as there are no diplomatic missions.”