CAIRO: Ten thousand Egyptian applicants were randomly selected in an annual electronic lottery to perform the pilgrimage (Hajj) holy rite in Mecca for the year 2015, according to a statement by the Ministry of Social Solidarity Thursday.
Nearly 121,000 applicants vied for 10,000 visas through the Egyptian government’s Hajj program this year, said the statement adding that the ministry has created a separate website for applicants to verify their names through entering their national ID number.
The central lottery was conducted in the Ministry of Social Solidarity in presence of representatives of Egypt’s 27 governorates to ensure transparency in selecting pilgrims, the statement added.
This year’s Hajj lottery packages, which is supervised by the ministries of Interior and social solidarity through a random draw of applications, costs anywhere between EGP 30,000 and 41,000 depending on travel services including hotels and transfers, Youm7 reported.
Every year, Saudi Arabia allocates each country a specific amount of hajj visas based on the population of Muslims in each country. In Egypt, 50-60 percent of the Hajj visas are granted to tourism companies while the remaining is given away in the annual Hajj lottery.
The price includes flight tickets, 3 or 4 star hotel accommodations near places of worship and internal bus transportation.
According to the Saudi rules, women under 45 years old must be accompanied by an unmarriageable mahram (male guardian) with whom sexual intercourse would be considered incestuous and a punishable taboo.
The lottery winners were given their hajj visas along with round trip air tickets, said the statement.
Hajj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, and a mandatory religious duty for Muslims that must be carried out at least once in a lifetime only by Muslims who are physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey, and can support their family during their absence.
The pilgrimage occurs from the 8th to 12th of Dhu al-Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar which corresponds to late September in the Gregorian calendar.
The five-day hajj rituals are attended by over 2 million Muslim pilgrims every year.