According to a new study by political science researchers Dr. Leila Seurat and Dr. Jihan Safar, thousands of French pilgrims, including a growing number of young people and women, will perform Haj this year. The study revealed that the number of pilgrims has increased substantially from 20,000 last year to an expected number of 26,000 in 2018.
The study was revealed at a conference at the French Consulate in Saudi Arabia organized by the cultural department in partnership with the “Cercle des Amis de la Culture Française” (CACF). In attendance was Mostafa Mihraje, Consul General of France in Jeddah, as well as a number French and Saudi personalities.
During the event, Dr. Seurat noted that the number of pilgrims from France performing the Haj has doubled in the last ten years, attracting youth and original French citizens in large numbers. She explained that Haj is no more associated with old people, as French Haj trips have seen thousands of 15 to 35-year-olds performing the Islamic spiritual journey to sacred places in Saudi Arabia.
She went on to say that since the attack on Paris, the French government has implemented new measures for a better organization of the Haj from France.
“We have conducted surveys and sought advice from all those who performed Haj in previous years in order to organize Haj for French pilgrims in a better way from the arrival of pilgrims to their departure,” she said. “The rising number of young French Muslims and French citizens performing Haj could be attributed to their keenness on discovering more spiritual horizons and on getting closer to their faith, in a social and cultural reality that makes religious practices very limited.”
In the Kingdom, preparations are underway to receive pilgrims from around the world. For instance, Khaleej Times reported that Saudi Arabia's Public Transport Authority (PTA) announced dedicated taxis will be launched to serve Umrah pilgrims, worshippers, and visitors to the Grand Mosque in Makkah. According to the chairman of PTA, Rumaih Al-Rumaih, the dedicated taxi service termed as 'Haram Cabs' will be launched in six months.