Saudi prepares to receive foreign Umrah pilgrims for first time in 8 months

Foreign Umrah pilgrims will be welcomed by Saudi Arabia from November 1 onwards.

The Hajj and Umrah Terminal at the King Abdulaziz International Airport, Jeddah, has started preparations to receive foreign Umrah pilgrims after a hiatus of almost eight months.

The CEO of the company operating the Hajj and Umrah lounges at the airport said that the airport has set up a mechanism to apply precautionary measures to stem the spread of coronavirus in accordance with the approved protocol.

“We have put in place all preventive arrangements with regard to keeping physical distance between pilgrims inside the terminals as well as at the counters. The workers are at the highest levels of readiness, despite the fact not many pilgrims are expected to arrive in first batches during the third phase. However, the number of permitted pilgrims will increase in a phased manner over the period of time,” Adnan al-Saqqaf said.

Al-Saqqaf said that there will be a separation between entrances and exits of pilgrims and other areas, and all these facilities will be ready to receive pilgrims from next week.

Foreign pilgrims will be allowed to enter the Kingdom during the third phase of the gradual resumption of the Umrah service, effective from November 1. Around 20 percent of the capacity of Masjid al Haraam in Makkah will be accommodated by both the domestic and foreign pilgrims during the third phase.

A total of 120,000 pilgrims have so far performed Umrah and 45,000 people have offered prayers at the Grand Mosque during the current second phase of the gradual resumption of the Umrah service since October 18.

“The first phase was completed successfully by last Saturday, where we received more than 125,000 pilgrims. The first phase only focused on Umrah, no prayers,” said Dr. Amr Al-Maddah, undersecretary at the Ministry for Hajj and Umrah.

He said the Grand Mosque had received 40,000 worshippers and 15,000 pilgrims in the second phase of Umrah.

Al-Maddah emphasised that there was no permit for Umrah and visits except through the official app and that people should be wary of fake apps and platforms that set out to deceive pilgrims.

The ministry launched the app to help facilitate Umrah for those wishing to visit the Kingdom’s holy mosques amid the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, while maintaining strict health measures throughout the rituals.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health announced 385 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, meaning 342,968 people have now contracted the disease.

There were a further 16 deaths reported on Tuesday, bringing the Kingdom’s death toll to 5,217.

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