Over 2.2 million visas issued since the beginning of this year’s Umrah season

A view of the Holy Kaaba at the Grand Mosque in Makkah packed with Umrah pilgrims and visitors on Dec. 20, 2019. (SPA)
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Updated 21 December 2019

Over 2.2 million visas issued since the beginning of this year’s Umrah season

  • 1.78 million pilgrims arrived in Saudi Arabia 

JEDDAH: The official statistics of the Umrah indicator have shown that 2,212,690 Umrah visas have been issued since the beginning of this year’s Umrah season.

According to these statistics, 1,782,554 pilgrims have arrived in the Kingdom, while 1,373,963 have already left Saudi Arabia after performing their Umrah.

The indicator looks into aspects such as the number of visas issued, the total number of pilgrims arriving by air, land or sea, the countries that account for the largest number of pilgrims and the number of pilgrims that leave the Kingdom after performing their rites.

The numbers also showed that 1,705,567 pilgrims arrived by air, 76,882 arrived by land and 105 arrived by sea.

Those who arrived included 450,011 Pakistanis, 399,103 Indonesians, 238,981 Indians, 110,739 Malaysians, 85,808 Egyptians, 70,626 Turks, 64,238 Algerians, 61,111 Bangladeshis, 37,191 Emiratis and 27,540 Jordanians.

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah launched its Inaya (care) centers to provide comprehensive and diverse services to pilgrims.

These centers contribute to the objectives of the Kingdom’s 2030 Vision and improve the pilgrims’ experience.

“The centers will be available in the areas where pilgrims are, in Makkah, Madinah and Jeddah. Pilgrims, those organizing their affairs or Hajj and Umrah services companies will be able to finalize their procedures in the centers through self-service systems or by directly contacting the centers’ qualified Saudi employees,” said the Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr. Mohammed Saleh Benten.


Saudi ban on Umrah pilgrims backed by OIC, Arab health ministers

Updated 26 min 28 sec ago

Saudi ban on Umrah pilgrims backed by OIC, Arab health ministers

  • The Egyptian minister of religious endowments also gave his support to the Saudi move
  • The common practice of foreign pilgrims visiting the Prophet’s Mosque before or after the completion of rituals in Makkah, has also been halted

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s temporary ban on Umrah pilgrims, imposed as part of efforts to prevent the spread of the killer coronavirus, was on Thursday backed by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
The OIC’s General Secretariat stressed its full support for the Kingdom’s preventive measures aimed at protecting its citizens and worshippers intending to perform Umrah or visit the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah.
In a statement, the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the decision to suspend entry to the country for Umrah pilgrims was made to ensure public safety and stop the deadly virus, known as Covid-19, from spreading.
The common practice of foreign pilgrims visiting the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah before or after the completion of their religious duties in Makkah, had also been halted, the ministry added.
Approving the move, the OIC said: “The Kingdom’s decision to ban the entry of pilgrims temporarily will help preserve their safety. It comes in line with the adopted international standards and supports the efforts of states and international organizations, particularly the World Health Organization (WHO).”
The OIC’s view was on Thursday echoed by the Council of Arab Health Ministers at the end of its 53rd session being held at the Arab League’s headquarters.
Council members highlighted the importance of “boosting cooperation between Arab states to implement joint measures preventing the transmission of Covid-19 and supporting the affected states when discovering new cases.”
The health ministers also emphasized the necessity of making the most of the adoption of risk assessment systems and approaches for dealing with the virus outbreak among Arab states.
The council commended measures already taken by Arab countries, in accordance with WHO guidelines, to respond, prevent and fight the spread of the coronavirus. It pointed out the importance of promoting communication, the exchange of information, and continuous coordination between Arab League member states and their relevant health bodies and sectors.
However, chairman of the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s committee on hotels, Abdullah Filali, warned of tough times ahead for the holy city’s accommodation sector.
He told Arab News that with more than 1,300 hotels, Makkah was heading toward a difficult season with high financial losses if the Umrah ban continued and was extended until Ramadan.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian Minister of Religious Endowments Sheikh Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa, gave his support to the Saudi move. “The decision to ban Umrah visas is justified, as it intends to preserve the lives of pilgrims from a certain doom. The Saudi foreign ministry said that this measure is temporary and will be continuously re-evaluated,” he said.
“We all know that crowded places are more vulnerable to the spread of the virus, which was confirmed by the WHO’s reports. We ask Allah to save all humanity and protect Saudi Arabia and the rest of the world against all harm,” the minister added.
Sheikh Dr. Khalid Al-Halibi, director of the House of Expertise for Research and Social Studies, said: “We support our government’s decision which aims to preserve the lives and the well-being of the people. It is a necessary preventive measure that was appreciated by the professionals.”
The Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques announced its readiness to deal with any epidemic, saying it would provide all necessary information to pilgrims and had doubled cleaning schedules for courtyards and corridors at the Two Holy Mosques.
Highly qualified cadres used the latest cleaning and sterilization tools, said Jaber Widaani, director of the mosques’ department of disinfection and carpets, noting that 13,500 prayer rugs were swept and fragranced on a daily basis.
The presidency added that it was raising media awareness in all languages and via information screens to pass on the latest medical instructions and emergency developments.