RIYADH: The current Umrah season for Muslims traveling to Saudi Arabia from outside the Kingdom will end on May 31. The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has set Shawwal 30, the current Islamic month that follows the holy month of Ramadan and corresponds to May 31 in the Gregorian calendar, as the deadline for overseas Muslims to perform Umrah.
In a statement, the ministry said: “The deadline for applying to obtain an Umrah visa for those outside the Kingdom is Shawwal 15 in coordination with the Saudi Foreign Ministry.”
It pointed out that Umrah visas for foreign visitors could be applied for through approved online platforms, adding that dates for registration and submission for this year’s Hajj would be announced in due course via official channels.
The Kingdom is gearing up to receive Hajj pilgrims from around the world for the first time in two years. The coronavirus pandemic meant that last year’s Hajj was restricted to 60,000 worshippers, all from Saudi Arabia, while numbers were limited to just 1,000 at the peak of the global health crisis in 2020.
In April, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah announced that the Kingdom would be increasing this year’s Hajj capacity to 1 million pilgrims as part of the country’s efforts to enable the largest number of Muslims around the world to fulfill their religious duties.
However, the ministry noted that the number of people allowed to visit the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah would be dictated by government health and safety considerations.
Pilgrims would be required to follow preventive measures while performing their Hajj duties, the ministry said, adding that those aged under 65 — according to the Gregorian calendar — would be required to have had full immunization against COVID-19 with an approved vaccine.
Smart wristbands for children
Sheikh Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, president of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, launched a wristbands for children initiative, with communication data of relatives inscribed to make it easier for authorities to communicate quickly with parents.
The initiative will distribute bracelets to children accompanying their parents to perform Umrah in case they get lost in crowds at the Grand Mosque.
The undersecretary-general for social and voluntary services, Amjad bin Ayed Al-Hazmi, said the presidency is keen to provide the best services to the Grand Mosque’s visitors.
Meanwhile, the presidency distributed nearly 7,000 umbrellas to Umrah performers and visitors to the Grand Mosque. This initiative “Your Umbrella is in Your Hands” comes to protect Umrah performers from the heat of the sun during Tawaf, and employees who serve the worshippers.