Jakarta (Indonesia Window) – A total of 108,041 permits have been issued for pilgrims since the launch of the umrah registration application, I’tamarna, on September 27 to October 1, according to official statistics released by the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah.
Of the number, Saudis are granted 42,873 permits, while expats are granted 65,168, Arab News reported.
As many as 16,000 pilgrims registered for umrah (the minor hajj) on the app in the first hour of its launch.
The number reached 309,686 Saudis and expats by the end of the first week of its launch, consisting of 224,929 registered pilgrims and 84,757 companions.
Statistics also show that among those wishing to perform umrah, pilgrims aged between 51 and 60 years old represented the lowest percentage with 8 percent, followed by pilgrims between 41 and 50 years old with 14 percent, pilgrims between 20 and 30 years with 17 percent, pilgrims between 31 and 40 years old with 26 percent and pilgrims over 60 years old with 35 percent.
The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques told Arab News that several scenarios have been adopted to organize the pilgrims’ movement inside the Grand Mosque during this year’s exceptional umrah season.
In the first scenario, pilgrims will perform umrah rituals in a spiral motion, from the outside to the inside of the Grand Mosque, and in the second pilgrims will be divided into groups of 50 accompanied by supervisors.
The ministry said the first phase will run for 13 days, and in the second phase permits will be issued for prayers in the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Sacred Chamber.
In the third stage, Muslims from outside the kingdom will be allowed to perform umrah.
The deputy president for administrative and financial affairs, Dr. Saad bin Mohammed Al-Mohaimeed, said the presidency has recruited more than 1,000 employees to follow up on pilgrims at the Grand Mosque.
“Employees will be working according to shifts to serve 2,000 pilgrims, with 125 supervisors in each shift. Supervisors from the presidency and the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah will cooperate and coordinate to organize the crowds,” he noted.
Meanwhile, the deputy president of services and technical affairs at the Grand Mosque, Mohammed bin Musleh Al-Jabiri, said thermal cameras will be installed at the gates, pilgrims will be banned from taking food and beverages into the Grand Mosque, social distancing between pilgrims will be observed, and the use of public touch screens will not be allowed.
The deputy president of architectural studies and projects, Sultan Al-Qurshi, pointed out that two tracks have been set for thawaf (circumambulation of the Kaaba for seven times), where each group of 100 pilgrims will be given 15 minutes to perform the ritual.
Under the arrangement 6,000 pilgrims are expected to perform thawaf during the 15 hours allocated for the ritual.
He added, there is a possibility of adding a third track, where up to 150 pilgrims will be allowed 15 minutes to perform thawaf, allowing 6,000 pilgrims in 10 hours.
Reporting by Indonesia Window