Thai Umrah pilgrims arrive at the King Abdulaziz airport in Jeddah.
Thai Umrah pilgrims arrive at the King Abdulaziz airport in Jeddah. Illustrative picture. Image Credit: Okaz

Dubai: Expat residents of Kuwait will now be able to obtain Umrah visas electronically by registering their biometric data, according to the Kuwaiti Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs.

The ministry said in a statement that Saudi Arabia has decided to allow residents of Kuwait who wish to perform Umrah to register their biometric data, including fingerprint registration for those from five countries, in order to complete the procedures for issuing Umrah visas electronically before their arrival in Mecca and Medina.

The fingerprint registration is currently applicable to all pilgrims coming from the UK, Tunisia, Kuwait, Malaysia, and Bangladesh. These individuals will need to use the Saudi Visa Bio app, which allows for visa application, fingerprint registration and biometric data submission in order to attend the significant Muslim pilgrimage sites.

The biometric registration includes face, eyes, and fingerprints, as well as passport submission through the app. Registration of the biometric data on the app is completed through four steps: Automatic passport reading, determining the type of visa, taking a photo of the face, and taking fingerprints.

The launch of the new app comes in line with the Saudi government’s commitment to allowing biometric enrollment through mobile devices to allow pilgrims to Mecca to avoid visiting visa centers in person.

This makes Saudi Arabia one of the first countries in the world to accept biometrics via mobile phone for visa issuance. In February 2022, Saudi Arabia also released an electronic passport with a chip that stores the user’s biometrics for authentication purposes.