Saudi Arabia to allow 2m
pilgrims monthly for Umrah

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JEDDAH:  Saudi Arabia has announced that beginning Monday applications for Muslim pilgrims wishing to perform Umrah from abroad will be received and 2 million requests will be accepted per month.

The Saudi news agency SPA cited Deputy Minister of Hajj and Umrah, Dr. Abdulfattah bin Sulaiman Mashat, on Sunday who said his ministry “has worked in coordination with other concerned authorities prior to the start of the Umrah season 2021/2022, to develop executive mechanisms and create a safe and accessible environment for the Umrah performers throughout their journey to achieve security, safety, and human health.”

A total of 60,000 umrah performers divided into eight operating periods will increase to 2 million per month, it added.

Deputy Minister of Hajj and Umrah, Dr. Abdul-Fattah bin Suleiman Mashat

Applications will be made through an integrated system of services and preventive measures.

Mashat said the ministry is working “to determine the countries from which Umrah performers come, and their numbers on a periodic basis according to the classification of preventive measures, and the requirements for the countries from which the Umrah performers and visitors come to the Kingdom.”

Umrah is a voluntary pilgrimage to Mecca that Muslims can perform at any time of the year. It was suspended in February 2020 because of fears of the coronavirus outbreak.

Due to the pandemic, umrah was limited to Saudis and foreign residents of the kingdom who were allowed to perform the ritual at the Grand Mosque at 30% capacity or 6,000 people per day.

Vaccinated pilgrims

Saudi Arabia will begin accepting vaccinated foreign pilgrims seeking to visit the Islamic holy city of Mecca, state media reported Sunday, around 18 months after a border closure prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Authorities in the ministry responsible for coordinating foreign pilgrims will from Monday begin “gradually receiving Umrah requests from various countries of the world,” the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The umrah is a pilgrimage that can be undertaken at any time — distinct from the hajj, which takes place once annually — and usually draws millions from around the globe each year.

Federal religious affairs minister Noor ul Haq Qadri said Monday Pakistani pilgrims, among those from nine states, haven’t been allowed entry into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) as it opens Umrah applications.

Khana-e-Kaaba

Speaking today to a news channel, the minister said Pakistan was still amongst the nine countries not allowed unconditionally into the Kingdom.

Saudi Arabia has conditionally allowed travellers who have completed two doses of the Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines only after they receive an additional dose of one of the four approved vaccines.

The guidelines were issued by the Saudi Arabian e-visa portal for the travellers after reopening the entry of vaccinated international visitors from August 1.

The Saudi authorities directed the guests, who have received two doses of the Chinese vaccines including Sinovac and Sinopharm, to get a booster shot of one of the four approved vaccines including Oxford/Astra Zeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna or Johnson and Johnson.

It read, “All visitors arriving in the country with a valid tourism visa must provide evidence of a full course of one the four vaccines currently recognized: two doses of the Oxford/Astra Zeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines or a single dose of the vaccine produced by Johnson and Johnson.”