Thai Umrah pilgrims arrive at the King Abdulaziz airport in Jeddah.
Thai Umrah pilgrims arrive at the King Abdul Aziz airport in Jeddah. Image Credit: Okaz file

Cairo: Around 800,000 Muslims from outside Saudi Arabia have so far registered for undertaking Umrah or lesser pilgrimage in the upcoming Ramadan, according to a Saudi official.

Last week, Saudi Arabia said Umrah permits during Ramadan, due to begin later this month, can be obtained for Muslims from inside and outside the kingdom via the app Nusuk.

“The number of those from outside the kingdom, who have registered on the Nusuk platform for the Ramadan Umrah, have reached nearly 800,000 until now,” Abdul Rahman Shams, the assistant undersecretary of the Ministry of Hajj for Umrah affairs, told Saudi television Al Ekhbariya.

The platform enables Muslims wishing to undertake Umrah or visit the holy sites to obtain the necessary visas and permits as well as to book related packages electronically.

Saudi Arabia expects the number of Umrah pilgrims since the onset of the season last July will reach 9 million by the end of Ramadan, which usually marks the peak of the Umrah season.

Overseas applicants for the Umrah permits in Ramadan must have valid visas at the time of registration.

Saudi Arabia has in recent months unveiled a slew of facilities for Muslims wishing to come to the country to undertake Umrah.

Muslims holding different types of entry visas such as the personal, visit and tourism visas are allowed to undertake Umrah and visit Al Rawda Al Sharifa, where the tomb of the Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) is located in the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina.

Saudi authorities have also extended the Umrah visa from 30 days to 90 and allowed holders to enter the kingdom via all land, air and sea outlets and leave from any airport.

In yet another facilitating step, Saudi Arabia has said its citizens can apply for visas inviting their friends abroad to visit the kingdom and undertake Umrah.

Saudi Arabia has also issued a stopover transit visa, allowing the holder to perform Umrah, visit the Prophet’s Mosque and attend different events across the kingdom.

The four-day transit visa is valid for 90 days.

The kingdom has also said GCC residents are eligible to apply for a tourist visa, regardless of their profession, allowing them to perform Umrah.

Millions of Muslims, who cannot afford the annual Hajj rituals physically or financially, annually flock to Saudi Arabia to undertake Umrah.