Jakarta (Indonesia Window) – Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah pointed out that 788,038 people had performed umrah (the minor hajj) in total since the gradual resumption of the ritual began on October 4, 2020.
The third phase, which started on November 1, allowed pilgrims from abroad to perform the ritual alongside residents of the kingdom, Arab News reported.
Saudi Arabia suspended umrah in March and significantly downsized the hajj pilgrimage in July by only allowing about 1,000 pilgrims, all in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Amr Al-Maddah, undersecretary at the Ministry for Hajj and Umrah, all visas from abroad that have been filed through accredited agents and the offices of certified umrah companies have been accepted, provided they fulfilled the necessary requirements.
He noted that in the first phase of umrah which lasted for 14 days, 84,000 pilgrims were received with 6,000 people per day.
During the second phase 210,000 pilgrims performed umrah which lasted for 14 days, at a 15,000-pilgrims capacity per day.
Last week, Al-Maddah added, four groups totalling nearly 1,000 pilgrims came from abroad.
Meanwhile, Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, president of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques called for an increase in the number of paths around the Kaaba to accommodate the increased number of pilgrims performing umrah and to allocate paths for the elderly and people with disabilities, as well as paths for those in wheelchairs.
Al-Maddah said those applying for umrah from abroad must be between 18 and 50 years old, in accordance with the requirements of the Ministry of Health.
They should also submit their COVID-19 negative RT-PCR test, issued by a reliable laboratory and taken 72 hours prior to leaving for Saudi Arabia.
Pilgrims should book through the I’tamarna application to perform umrah, pray in the Grand Mosque, visit the Prophet’s Mosque and pray in the Prophet’s Sacred Chamber in the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, in accordance with the regulations and available capacity.
Each pilgrim should also have confirmed return air tickets.
Pilgrims who have booked only an appointment for prayer cannot perform umrah because they will not be able to enter the tawaf (seven circumambulations of the Kaaba) area.
Reporting by Indonesia Window