Mina: Saudi Arabia said on Tuesday that around 1.98 million pilgrims are performing this year`s annual Muslim pilgrimage, the hajj, sharply fewer than last year due to reduced quotas.
The Public Statistics Department said in a statement cited by the official SPA agency that 1.38 million pilgrims came from overseas, down 21 per cent on last year`s 1.75 million.
Another 600,700 pilgrims came from within the kingdom, a drop of 57 per cent from 1.4 million in 2012. Most of them are expatriates living in the kingdom.
The department said the total number of pilgrims is down 37.3 per cent from 3.16 million last year.
The kingdom cut quotas for pilgrims from abroad by 20 per cent and vowed to slash domestics by half due to construction work in the Grand Mosque in Mecca and because of fears from MERS coronavirus.