New Saudi rules to
have negligible impact
on Pak Umrah pilgrims

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ISLAMABAD: A senior Pakistani official in Saudi Arabia said on Tuesday the kingdom’s new regulations for Umrah entry were designed to keep pilgrims save amid rising coronavirus infections, adding they would not have much of an impact on Pakistani nationals seeking to perform the religious ritual.
The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah on Monday announced it had updated the entry procedure for pilgrims who wanted to visit the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah.
It added that people arriving in Saudi Arabia from other countries were required to submit an approved negative PCR or antigen test 48 hours before their departure to the kingdom.

Khana e Kaaba

The updated procedure will come into force from Wednesday, February 9, 2022.
“The new Saudi regulations for Umrah pilgrims will have negligible impact on Pakistanis since they are already taking PCR tests,” Sajid Masood, the country’s director of Hajj in Jeddah, told Arab News on phone.
He added the Saudi government had taken the step for the safety of Umrah pilgrims from across the world due to rising COVID-19 cases after the emergence of omicron variant.
“Pilgrims from every part of the world visit the kingdom to perform Umrah and interact with one another,” Masood continued. “Strict measures were therefore required to ensure their safety.”
He said Pakistanis were already fully complying with the standard operating procedures devised by the Saudi government, adding the number of pilgrims from the country was gradually increasing
“Now they are also trained by agents to use the Tawakkalna app,” he informed while mentioning to Saudi government’s electronic mechanism to facilitate the issuance of movement permits for pilgrims amid the pandemic.
“The pilgrims who have taken Chinese vaccines require booster shots along with three days of quarantine in Saudi Arabia,” he said, adding the period of medical seclusion was not required by those who had taken vaccines like Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson since they had been approved by the kingdom.
Muhammad Faizan, a member of Umrah Travel Association in Pakistan, said the Saudi authorities had reduced the timeframe for the submission of negative COVID-19 tests from 72 to 48 hours before the pilgrim’s departure.
However, he maintained this should not be a major problem.
“There are about six approved laboratories to perform these tests in Pakistan and pilgrims can easily get their results before 48 hours of their travel,” he added.
Asked about vaccination, Faizan said the pilgrim must get the second dose at least 14 days before traveling to the kingdom.
“We also arrange for quarantine and booster shots for those who have received Chinese vaccines,” he said, adding that travel agents were there in Jeddah and Madinah to help Umrah pilgrims with the submission of their PCR tests through the Tawakkalna app.