Umrah pilgrims pack the courtyard of the Grand Mosque in Mecca during the Friday noon prayers. Image Credit: The General authority for Care of the Two Holy Mosques

Cairo: Saudi Arabia is seeking to increase the number of Muslims performing Umrah, or the minor pilgrimage, to reach 30 million a year, an official has said.

"Every year, there is an increase in numbers," Abdulrahman bin Fahd, an assistant undersecretary for Umrah Affairs, told Saudi television Al Ekhbariya. He cited a plan aiming to target more than 10 million Umrah pilgrims this year.

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The Umrah is undertaken year-round in the Grand Mosque in Mecca.

The new Umrah season started earlier this month, right after 1.8 million Muslims undertook the annual Hajj pilgrimage in and around Mecca.

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

Pilgrims holding different types of entry visas, such as 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.

Saudi 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.