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Worshippers at the Holy Kaaba at Grand Mosque in Ramadan. Image Credit: Source: The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah

Cairo: Saudi authorities have urged residents of Mecca to give precedence to visitors to access the Grand Mosque, Islam’s most sacred place, as the city witnesses an influx of worshippers in Ramadan.

In Ramadan, Muslims from inside and outside Saudi Arabia would head in large numbers to the Grand Mosque to perform Umrah or lesser pilgrimage, and offer prayers.

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“The Guests of God are the Mecca people’s guests. So, let’s be altruistic to them and give them room at the Grand Mosque,” the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said on its X account, formerly Twitter.

The ministry called on Mecca’s residents to ease congestion by performing prayers at other mosques in the city, pointing out that Mecca as a whole is haram or a sacred place being located within the boundaries of the Grand Mosque.

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Ramadan, which started in Saudi Arabia on March 11, usually marks the peak season of Umrah.

In recent months, the kingdom has introduced a host of facilities for overseas Muslims to come to the country to perform Umrah.

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

Saudi authorities have 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. Women pilgrims are no longer required to be escorted by male guardians.

The kingdom has also said that expatriates residing in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries are eligible to apply for a tourist visa, regardless of their profession, and be able to perform Umrah.