Was it three million or only two million? This Asharq Alawsat piece notes that international media have been coming up with their own figures, but the Saudi Central Department of Statistics has put the number a just under two-and-a-half million.

Hajj Media Reports and Conflicting Figures
Ayman al Khaddaf
Jeddah, Asharq Al-Awsat – There have been a number of discrepancies within media reports on this year’s Hajj pilgrimage regarding the number of pilgrims taking part. The total number of pilgrims according to some media reports has reached three million. This issue has gained much attention from correspondents covering the religious event.

Despite that the Saudi Central Department of Statistics had announced Wednesday that the total number of pilgrims from this year’s Hajj reached 2,454,325, (1,707,814 from outside of Saudi Arabia and 746,511 from within the kingdom), a state of confusion within the media prevailed over the past few days.

In one Gulf newspaper, the headline read, “Here I am Lord, here I am: Repeated Three Million Pilgrims,” and this was the largest figure used in the media.

On one of the satellite channels, reporters differed over the number of pilgrims with one claiming that it exceeded two and a half million whilst another argued that there were no more than two million pilgrims.

This annual estimate of the total number of Hajj pilgrims is a statistical crisis for reporters with over 180 international, Arab and local media organizations within the holy areas. These organizations rely on official figures that are announced from the beginning of the pilgrimage until the day of “Woqouf” [standing] on the plain of Mount Arafat that takes place on the ninth day of Dhul Hijjah and that signifies the completion of the pilgrimage.

December:23:2007 - 14:55 | Comments & Trackbacks (4) | Permalink
4 Responses to “‘How Many Attended the Hajj?’”
  1. 1
    Carol Said:
    December:24:2007 - 03:08 

    It is a daunting task for authorities to keep track of how many pilgrims actually attended Hajj. Of course each agency provides details to the Saudi government but at the same time there are always a significant number of “illegal pilgrims” who have made their way to Hajj and were not registered with an Agency. In addition I also am aware of a number of Saudis who spontaneously decided to join the pilgrimage and perform Hajj without informing or registering with an agency of any kind.

    What we are hearing through reliable sources is that Hajj 2007 had in excess of 2 million pilgrims.

  2. 2
    anon Said:
    December:24:2007 - 06:56 

    2.45 million + uncountable illegal pilgrims who came for Umrah and stayed for Hajj + Saudi-based pilgrims that didn’t get a permit and = an uncountable number that’s very likely to put the number at or near three million.

    It’s probably best to say in news stories what the official number is along with the caveat regarding the uncounted pilgrims.

    People have to keep in mind that the Saudi officials are going to downplay the problem of clandestine pilgrims and clam they did a stellar job keeping them out. In fact, it was fairly easy to get in and set up camp in the hills around Mina. And telling from the picture there were A LOT of pilgrims that were still setting up tents here and there willy-nilly. These pilgirms are not counted in the official number. It’s really not that complicated.

    This is also good to keep in mind with the difference between “overstayers” (“documented” illegal migrants who were issued visa but have remained in the Kingdom beyond their legal limit) and undocumented immigrants (people who sneak into the Kingdom, usually through Yemen who are uncountable because the government doesn’t have a record of their entry).

  3. 3
    American Bedu Said:
    December:25:2007 - 04:50 

    I was at a gathering last night when included a group of Mecca residents who also had rented out their homes to pilgrims. (One can easily rent even just 2 rooms plus a bath in a residence for US$300 per day during Hajj so this is an attractive opportunity for many Mecca residents) Under for what it is worth, they were stating that if one counts the unregistered pilgrims, they placed the Hajj figures at 5 million. Frankly I think this is an exaggeration but do not doubt that it probably felt like that many to the Mecca residents who remained in the city during Hajj.

  4. 4
    Naheed Hussain Said:
    January:07:2008 - 04:19 

    I was blessed this year (2007) to peform Hajj. I must commend the Saudi Government for doing such an excellent job in managing so many people effectivey. Jamrat at Mina was very well organized and we got done in 15 – 20 minutes every day we went to stone.
    However, I would like Saudi Government to properly organize the departure from Jeddah – it was a nightmare at the Hajj Terminal in Jeddah. There was no information for the departure gates, no lines were formed for boarding the plane. Since our flight was a chartered one, there was no assigned seating. Everyone was pushing and I almost lost one of my arms being pulled and squeezed from all angles. Please have someone form a line to board the plane, it was very hard to see and believe that so many Hajjies who showed so much patience in performing Hajj were behaving like holligans with no respect for women what so ever.
    A concerned Muslim
    Naheed Hussain

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