201008 Umrah
Pilgrims practice social distancing while praying around the Kaaba. Image Credit: Saudi Ministry of Haj and Umrah.

Dubai: The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has announced that umrah pilgrims from five countries - UK, Tunisia, Kuwait, Bangladesh and Malaysia - must provide their biometric data, including “fingerprints” in order to get an electronic Umrah visa, local media reported.

Interested pilgrims will have to use the Saudi Visa Bio app that allows for visa registration via fingerprints and selfie biometrics to attend significant Muslim pilgrimages.

The new app delivers on a commitment made by the Saudi government late last year to allow biometrics enrolment through mobile devices so pilgrims to Mecca can avoid visiting visa centres in person, and makes the country one of the first in the world to accept biometrics by mobile for visa issuance.

In February 2022, the kingdom also released an electronic passport with a chip that stores the user’s biometrics for authentication purposes.