MAKKAH: Saudi Arabia has announced the resumption of Umrah services for pilgrims abroad from August 10 (1st Muharram) following a successful Hajj season.
Abdul Rahman Al Sudais, Head of the General Presidency for Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, directed all competent affiliates to finalise preparations for receiving Umrah pilgrims and other worshippers at the Grand Mosque in Makkah.
He urged the presidency’s employees to make all efforts and observe all precautionary measures at both the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, building on “distinguished work and organisation” shown during last week’s Hajj season.
All countries are allowed to send direct flights except for nine countries which are India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Egypt, Turkey, Argentina, Brazil, South Africa and Lebanon which require quarantine of 14 days in a third country before arriving in the Kingdom.
It is also a mandatory requirement of being vaccinated against COVID-19 with complete doses of either Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or J&J vaccine. Those who have received complete doses of China’s vaccines with booster shot of either Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or J&J are accepted.
It is also required to arrive via an agency accredited by Saudi Arabia’s ministry of Hajj and Umrah and all applicants must be aged above 18 years.
Umrah was suspended in February 2020 due to concerns about the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. It resumed for Saudi citizens and residents in the Kingdom from July 25.
Pilgrims should note that specific prayer locations have been designated as per COVID-19 standards. Pilgrims are also required to follow markings on the floor when performing Tawaf as was seen during Hajj and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year only 60,000 people performed Hajj from within Saudi Arabia’s borders due to the ongoing risks from the COVID-19 pandemic.
This was the second time in a row that the Saudi government had to reduce the number of pilgrims due to COVID-19. In 2020, only 10,000 pilgrims were able to perform Hajj due to the pandemic.