Around 10,000 foreign pilgrims per week expected for Umrah

Monday, October 26, 2020

MAKKAH: November will bring relief for the more than 500 Umrah companies in the Kingdom that have been badly affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has laid out the guidelines for receiving pilgrims from outside the Kingdom, to be applied from Nov. 1, in its phased resumption of Umrah services.

And now Saudia airline has announced the reopening of 33 travel destinations, most of which are green countries where COVID-19 is not spreading and preventive measures are being successfully implemented.

Ahmed Bajaifer, an investor in Umrah companies, said that an estimated 10,000 pilgrims will arrive each week in Saudi Arabia, adding that the Umrah companies can easily handle this number while applying preventive measures.

The ministry will only allow pilgrims between 18 and 50 years old to come for Umrah, in line with the requirements of the Ministry of Health. They must present a PCR test certificate proving that they have tested negative for COVID-19. The certificate must be issued by a trusted laboratory in the pilgrim’s country no more than 72 hours before departure.

Pilgrims must book their Umrah and prayers at the Two Holy Mosques, including visits to the Prophet’s Mosque and prayers in the Prophet’s Chamber. All bookings can be done through the Eatmarna app.

They are also required to have confirmed return flights that suit their Umrah programs.

The mandatory components of the service package for each pilgrim include booking accommodation that provides three full-board meals for the quarantine period, which should be at least three days, and transport from the port to the accommodation. They must also have a comprehensive insurance policy.

Pilgrims arriving from abroad will be divided into groups of at least 50 pilgrims. Unified programs must be booked for the groups, including all services that match the date of their booking to perform Umrah and visit the Two Holy Mosques.

A guide will be appointed for each group, and the Saudi agent will be obliged to provide the contracted service packages.