KUALA LUMPUR – Saudi Arabia received the first batch of Umrah pilgrims from Pakistan and Indonesia on Sunday following the temporary suspension of Umrah visa in February this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a report by the Union of OIC News Agencies (UNA), the pilgrims were received at the King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah by Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Haj and Umrah, Muhammad Saleh Taher Benten, his deputy Dr Abdulfattah Suliman Mashat, and the airport’s director, Issam Nour.
The arrival of the pilgrims marked the third phase of the granting of the permit for pilgrimage at Masjidil Haram and Nabawi Mosque.
“Saudi Arabia’s Hajj and Umrah Ministry has stipulated that every foreign pilgrim must undergo a three-day compulsory quarantine before being allowed to perform umrah at certain hotels.
“Besides that, the ministry has also set a standard operating procedure (SOP), agreed by the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health, for umrah companies and services to ensure that COVID-19 virus prevention action can be taken,” the report said.
Based on the strategic plan compiled by the Government of Saudi Arabia, the third phase is expected to see the entry of 20,000 umrah pilgrims, 60,000 worshippers at the Masjidil Haram and Masjid Nabawi, and 19,500 visitors daily.
On Sep 23, Saudi Arabia announced four phases of re-acceptance and entry of umrah pilgrims with the SOP set by the country’s local authorities, to be conducted in stages.