Riyadh: The ministry of Hajj and Umrah said on Monday that fully vaccinated children between the age of 12 to 18 years can apply for Umrah permits.
Children of citizens and residents above the age of 12 who have recieved two doses of COVID-19 vaccine can now apply for permits of Umrah, Ziyarah and Prayers at Rawdah and Masjid Al Haram.
The ministry added that it has issued more than 13 thousand Umrah permits for this age group, allowing them to perform Umrah and visit the Prophet’s Mosque, on the first day of Muharram 1443 AH— August 9 (according to the Ummul Qura calendar).
The announcement follows the inauguration of the 2021 Umrah season on August 10.
The Deputy minister of Hajj and Umrah, Dr Abdel Fattah bin Suleiman Mashat, confirmed that Umrah permits are issued through the “Eatmarna and Tawakkalna” applications, with an integrated system of services and preventive measures that guarantee the safety and health of those wishing to perform Umrah.
Mashat said that the ministry worked with other officials before the Umrah season this year to put in place executive mechanisms and create a safe environment for pilgrims.
He pointed out the need to adhere to the health procedures set by the ministry to ensure the safety of pilgrims and those who serve them, and to prevent the spread of the COVID-19.
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, later, 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.
A total of 58,518 pilgrims performed the Hajj this year. Of them 32,816 were male and the remaining 25,702 were females.
This was the second time in a row that the Saudi government had to reduce the number of pilgrims due to COVID-19. In 2020, only 10,000 pilgrims were able to perform Hajj due to the pandemic.
Authorities announced a “successful” end to the annual event, citing no cases of COVID-19 being recorded.
“I would like to announce that this Hajj was successful, with neither COVID-19 infection nor any other epidemic diseases reported,” Saudi minister of health Dr Tawfiq Al-Rabiah said.