Saudi to allow foreign pilgrims aged 12 and above to perform Umrah

Riyadh: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah on Tuesday announced that the foreign pilgrims aged 12 years and above will be allowed to enter the Kingdom and perform Umrah, local media from the gulf country reported.

Foreign children above the age of 12 who have received two or one dose of COVID-19 vaccine can now apply for permits of Umrah, Ziyarah and prayer at the Grand Mosque and Al-Rawdah Sharif at the Prophet’s Mosque. The pilgrims must register proof of their vaccination status on the Muqeem platform before their entry into the Kingdom.

According to the Arabic daily Okaz, under the new regulations, foreign pilgrims can come and perform Umrah in accordance with precautionary measures and preventive protocols to stop the spread of the COVID-19.

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The children below the age of 12 can enter the outer courtyard of the Grand Mosque in Makkah and Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah.

On November 27, 2021, the Kingdom has dropped the maximum age limit of 50 years for foreign pilgrims performing Umrah.

On November 19, 2021,  the Kingdom announced that foreign pilgrims under the age of 18 will not be allowed to perform Umrah. As for domestic pilgrims, everyone 12 years and older gets a permit to perform Umrah and pray in the Two Holy Mosques, provided they receive two doses of vaccine against the COVID-19.

On November 13, 2021, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has launched a service enabling foreign Umrah pilgrims to obtain permits for performing the rituals in the Grand Mosque in Mecca. Pilgrims will also be permitted to offer their respects to Prophet Mohammed in Madinah through the health apps Eatmarna and Tawakkalna after registering in the platform Qudum.

On October 17, due to a consequential decline in COVID-19 cases and a considerable development in vaccinations in the Kingdom, the interior ministry of Saudi Arabia eased COVID-19 restrictions.

About Umrah

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.

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