The first group of pilgrims, allowed in the mosque compound by appointment, practice social distancing, as they perform Umrah in the Grand Mosque, after Saudi authorities ease coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions, in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, October 3, 2020. Image Credit: Reuters

Cairo: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has denied cutting short a 90-day visa issued for performing the lesser pilgrimage in the country, according to a local media report.

“The stay duration for arrivals on Umrah visas is 90 days. The 90-day Umrah visa duration cannot be extended,” Saudi news portal Ajel quoted the ministry as saying.

The confirmation came in response to a query about claims that the Umrah entry visa to the kingdom has been reduced from 90 days to one month.

Also read

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

Saudi Arabia issued 4 million visas for overseas Muslims to perform Umrah since the start of the current season in July, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said last month.

Muslims holding different types of entry visas such as the personal, visit and tourism visas are allowed to undertake Umrah in the Grand Mosque in Mecca and visit Al Rawda Al Sharifa, where the tomb of the Prophet Mohammed (Peace be upon him) is located at the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina after booking an e-appointment.

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 ports.

In yet a new facilitating step, Saudi Arabia recently allowed its citizens to invite their friends abroad to visit the kingdom and undertake Umrah.

The Saudi Foreign Ministry said citizens can apply for the personal visit visa via its e-visa platform, allowing the holder to perform Umrah and move across the kingdom including the religious and historical sites.

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