According to Haj Ministry records, 257,000 of the pilgrims were from Iran, 235,000 from Turkey, 171,000 from Pakistan and 132,000 from Indonesia.

“This is a large number compared to previous years,” said a spokesman for the ministry.

Officials involved in the Umrah business said that around 8 million Umrah pilgrims are expected to visit the Kingdom this year; the bulk will visit in the months of Ramadan and Shabaan.

Meanwhile, the Department of Umrah Affairs at the Haj Ministry warned all Umrah companies against signing contracts with foreign Umrah agencies after June 1. “This is the standard practice every year. The contracts should be signed long before the advent of the pilgrimage season,” the ministry said in a circular.