Kaaba umrah mecca Grand mosque
Pilgrims pray in the vicinity of Kaaba at the Grand Mosque in Mecca. Image Credit: The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah

Cairo: Saudi authorities are urging Muslims planning Umrah or minor pilgrimage at the Grand Mosque, Islam’s holiest site in Mecca, to ensure they will undertake the rites with ease.

The kingdom’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has advised the faithful to follow certain instructions while making their appointments for Umrah.

They include booking appointments that prevent crowding at the holy site, thus performing the rites with ease and comfort.

The pilgrims are also recommended to show up at the place at the specified appointment and present related permits upon arrival.

Saudi Arabia expects around 10 million Muslims from abroad to do Umrah during the current season.

The season commenced at the start of the new Islamic Hijri year, more than a month ago.

The season began after the end of annual Islamic Hajj pilgrimage that around 1.8 million Muslims attended for the first time in three years after pandemic-related restrictions were lifted.

Muslims, who cannot physically or financially afford Hajj, go to Saudi Arabia to undertake Umrah at the Grand Mosque.

In recent months, Saudi Arabia has unveiled a host of facilities for overseas Muslims to come to the country to do Umrah.

Muslims holding different types of entry visas such as the personal, visit and tourist 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 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.

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.

Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia announced adding eight more countries to its visit e-visa system, allowing their nationals to come to the kingdom for Umrah and tourism, raising the total number of countries whose citizens have access to this system to 57.

Holders of the Schengen, US and UK visas can also book appointments for Umrah and visiting Al Rawda Al Sharifa, via the Nusuk app before arrival in Saudi Arabia.