Riyadh: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has banned the direct entry of expatriates for Umrah from nine countries facing travel bans unless they spend two weeks in a third country after leaving these countries, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Sunday.
All countries are allowed to send direct flights except for nine countries: India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Egypt, Turkey, Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, and Lebanon, which require a quarantine of 14 days in a third country before arriving in the Kingdom.
Saudi Arabia on July 25 announced the resumption of Umrah service for pilgrims worldwide from 1st Muharram 1443 (August 10, 2021), following a successful Hajj season.
“The Grand Mosque is ready to receive pilgrims and worshippers for Umrah,” said the deputy head of the affairs of the Grand Mosque, Saad bin Muhammad al-Muhaimid.
Beginning from July 25, Umrah agencies have been authorized to issue Visas for Umrah for entry beginning from 1st Muharram 1443 (10 August 2021).
About 500 companies and establishments for Umrah services and more than 6000 foreign Umrah agents have been prepared to receive vaccinated foreign Umrah pilgrims.
Aspiring pilgrims can book Umrah packages and make all payments through about 30 websites and electronic platforms available for global bookings, Saudi Gazette quoted Hani Ali Al Amiri, a member of the National Committee for Hajj and Umrah.
Only those who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can apply for an Umrah visa. The committee member said in a statement that Umrah seekers also need to be in excellent health conditions and adhere to protocols aimed at ensuring the safety of pilgrims coming from abroad.
Mandatory requirement of being vaccinated against COVID-19 with complete doses of either Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or J&J. Complete doses of China’s vaccines with a booster shot of either Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or J&J. Age 18 and above will be allowed.
Saudi Arabia has reopened Islamic holy sites for performing Umrah from July 25 for citizens and residents after the end of the Hajj season, according to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
Umrah is a voluntary pilgrimage that Muslims can perform at any time of the year. In February of 2020, it was suspended due to concerns about the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.
However, in October 2020, the Saudi authorities reopened the Islamic holy sites for Umrah after a six-month hiatus. It was limited to Saudis and foreigners residing in the kingdom who were allowed to perform rituals in the Grand Mosque with a capacity of 30 per cent, i.e. only 6,000 people per day.
This year’s Hajj received only 60,000 people from within Saudi Arabia’s borders due to the ongoing risks from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Authorities announced a “successful” end to the annual event-Hajj, citing no cases of COVID-19 being recorded.