The faithful gather for prayer around the Kaaba at the Grand Mosque complex in Mecca on April 9, 2022. Image Credit: AFP

Cairo: Overseas Muslim women wishing to undertake Umrah or lesser pilgrimage can obtain related visas without the need for a male guardian or being members of a female group, a Saudi official has said.

Previously, Saudi laws required women entering the kingdom to perform Umrah to be escorted by a male guardian; but last month the restriction was relaxed for women above the age of 45 provided they come as part of a female group.

“[Now] the woman has the right to be issued an Umrah visa without the presence of a male guardian or a female group,” spokesman for the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah Hesham bin Saeed was quoted as saying by Saudi news portal Sabq.

“Previously, a male guardian was mandatory for the issuance of an Umrah visa for women below the age of 45 years. Now the woman is allowed to get the visa without obligating her to have a male guardian or a group of women,” the official added.

“Now there are no restrictions on issuing this visa.”

The holy Islamic month of Ramadan is usually the peak season for Umrah at the Grand Mosque in the Saudi city of Mecca.

Nearly 2 million performed Umrah in the early days of Ramadan, which started on April 2, according to Saudi figures.