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Manama: More than a million foreign pilgrims have arrived in Saudi Arabia to perform Haj later this month.
-The number of pilgrims who came to Saudi Arabia by late Friday was 1,056,662,- said Salem Bin Mohammad Al Belaihid, the head of passport control.
The overwhelming majority — 1,003,149 people — flew into the country while 42,472 arrived in vehicles and 11,034 reached the kingdom by sea, he said.
The number is expected to double within the next few days.
These visitor numberd will be boosted by the one million people living in Saudi Arabia who will perform Haj.
Haj is expected to start on October 23 and end on October 28.
A Haj quota was introduced in 1987 following an agreement by all member countries of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to limit the number of pilgrims allowed by each country to 0.1 per cent of its population.
Several countries have requested an increase in their quotas, but Riyadh said that construction work in Makkah has put heavy pressure on the possibility to accommodate more pilgrims.
In Jeddah in western Saudi Arabia, the pilgrimage minister said that King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud would host 2,000 Palestinians from the families of martyrs and prisoners held in Israeli jails.
-An ad-hoc committee has been set up to look after these special guests to ensure they receive the utmost care and services,- Bandar Hajjar said, quoted by local Arabic daily Al Watan.
Islam requires all physically fit and financially able Muslims to perform Haj at least once in their lives.