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Saudi opens borders to foreign pilgrimage, 10,000 fly in to perform Umrah

Sun 01 Nov 2020    
| 2 min read

Around 10,000 international pilgrims arrived in Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah, after a hiatus of seven months, after the Islamic pilgrimage was halted due to the rising number of coronavirus cases in the Kingdom and worldwide.

According to Deputy Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr Amr Al-Maddah, the 10,000 pilgrims arriving from abroad must first obtain a permit, Arab News reported on Sunday.

The publication also underscored that upon arrival, pilgrims must isolate for three days before being transported to Miqat sites, the principle boundaries where pilgrims intending to perform Umrah must change into Ihrams.

However, they can stay in the Kingdom for up to 10 days, three of which are in isolation.

As per precautionary measures, 500 groups of international pilgrims are dispersed throughout the day, each with 20 pilgrims. The maximum age limit for international pilgrims is set at 50.

Stressing that the holy mosques will be working at 100% operation to avoid any mishaps, the Saudi official said that if at any stage there is a cause for concern or danger to pilgrims, the ministry will move to evaluate and return to previous stages by decreasing capacity.

Currently, Saudi is the only certified airline allowed to transport pilgrims to and from the Kingdom. Pilgrims seeking to fly in from countries where the carrier does not operate must arrange for their travel through a third party — one accounted for by the Kingdom — the report highlighted.

Saudi Arabia is currently in the third phase of its revival of the Umrah service, slotted to pan out in four stages.

In the first phase, 30% of the pilgrims were allowed to perform the pilgrimage, at roughly 6,000 pilgrims per day. This stage began on October 4.

The second phase saw the capacity of the Grand Mosque increase to 75%, at an estimated 15,000 pilgrims and 40,000 worshippers a day, coming into fruition since October 18.

The Kingdom on Sunday opened its borders to permit foreign pilgrims to cross over and perform Umrah, allowing a capacity of 20,000 pilgrims and 60,000 worshippers per day, as of now.

The fourth, and final stage will see the Grand Mosque allow the usual amount of pilgrims.

However, the Kingdom only seeks to implement this when all COVID-19 risks have receded.

[Sourced from Agencies]