Saudi Arabia to resume umrah pilgrimage to Makkah

Published: 26 September 2020 - 3 a.m.
By: Josh Corder
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is to gradually resume the umrah pilgrimage which has been put on hold since March over COVID-19 fears.

"6,000 citizens and residents within the kingdom will be allowed to perform the umrah per day from October 4", the interior ministry said in a statement published by the official Saudi Press Agency.

From November 1, visitors outside the Gulf state may come to perform Umrah, limited to 20,000 pilgrims each day.

The Umrah is an optional pilgrimage that can be performed at any time of year. It includes some rituals of the Hajj pilgrimage, though shortened and fewer of them. Like the much larger Hajj, umrah is a huge religious tourism source for the Kingdom, drawing in Muslims from all across the world.

The ministry said umrah would be allowed to resume at full "natural capacity" once the threat of the pandemic has disappeared.

The resumption of the umrah follows on from what was Saudi’s smallest-ever Hajj in its modern history. In late July this year, just 10,000 Muslims were allowed to take part – all socially distanced – which is a fraction of the 2.5 million who took part last year.

The Hajj at Makkah is a must for able-bodied Muslims at least once in their lives, who often save up for years or use their life savings to fund the trip. Both Hajj and umrah are two of KSA’s largest sources of religious tourism income.

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