Jakarta (Indonesia Window) – At the first stage of umrah (the minor hajj) resumption, pilgrims only have three hours to complete the rituals, starting and ending in the triage area around Makkah, according to Arab News sources.
The first phase is scheduled to start on October 4, and will be operated via the I’tamarna app.
The plan is to have triage areas around the holy city, allowing 6,000 pilgrims to perform umrah each day at six different times, with each group of 1,000 pilgrims being given three hours.
Ahmed Bajaiffer, an investor in umrah companies, said the Saudi government had decided to resume Umrah services after their suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic “as it believes that Muslims should not stop performing pilgrimage, while respecting the precautionary measures.”
The first stage will allow umrah for Saudis and expats residing in the kingdom, before expanding to a bigger capacity in the next stages to allow pilgrims from outside Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile, Ahmed Saleh Halabi, a journalist and writer specializing in hajj and umrah services, said the decision to restore umrah stresses the Saudi leadership’s concern to help people perform the ritual safely and securely, in line with the precautionary measures.
“The gradual restoration of umrah might help mitigate the financial damage to the Umrah companies and institutions,” he told Arab News.
Halabi quoted the Minister of Hajj and Umrah saying “there are more than 30 local and international companies that can handle the umrah services provided for pilgrims,” and he hoped that this will not cause new financial losses to the companies providing Umrah services.
Reporting by Indonesia Window