Cairo: Over 4 million Muslims have performed Umrah or lesser pilgrimage in the first 20 days of the current sacred Islamic month of Ramadan, a Saudi official has said.
“Since the start of holy Ramadan and until its 20th day, 4.2 million pilgrims were allowed to undertake Umrah in the Grand Mosque in line with health precautions,” said Osama bin Mansour, the deputy head at the Presidency General for Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques for Congregation Management.
The lunar month of Ramadan, which began this year on April 2, is usually the peak of Umrah. Pilgrims are required to obtain mandatory permits specifying timings for undertaking the rituals inside the Grand Mosque in the Saudi city of Mecca.
Bin Mansour said competent agencies have optimised their operational capacity to serve Umrah pilgrims during Ramadan including designation of the circumambulation (Tawaf) courtyard that houses the holy Kaaba at the Grand Mosque for pilgrims.
The Saudi news agency SPA quoted the official as citing integrated services made available to pilgrims and worshippers at the Grand Mosque. They include allocating tracks for the elderly and physically disabled people.
“Umrah pilgrims should comply with timings issued for them in their permits,” he added.
Saudi authorities have recently loosened measures for performing Umrah as the kingdom has largely relaxed restrictions against COVID-19.
The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has lifted several precautionary measures including cancellations of permits for praying at the Grand Mosque and visiting the Prophet’s Mohammed Mosque in Medina.
The Ministry has also said the immunisation check to enter both holy sites has been scrapped for all worshippers.
The ministry has, moreover, cancelled the once-obligatory registration of immunisation data for overseas Muslims to get an Umrah permit.
A mandatory presentation of a negative PCR test result to get access to both sacred places has been lifted too.