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

Dubai: Saudi authorities announced that there is no cap on the number of Umrah pilgrims during the Hijri New Year, which will start next Thursday. State media reported.

Dr. Abdul Fattah Mashat Deputy Minister of Hajj and Umrah, revealed that there is no ceiling on the number of pilgrims for the new Umrah season during the Islamic New Year, provided that the number does not contradict requirements set by the competent authorities, and is in compliance with the precautionary measures in place.

The deputy minister made the announcement during a meeting of the National Committee for Hajj, Umrah and Visit Activities.

Mashat said that the concerned authorities have been instructed to extend the necessary support to the licenced companies providing Umrah services and exclude agents who are found to be flouting visa rules.

“Violating Umrah operators will be excluded from providing Umrah services and hefty fines for flouting visa rules,” he said. There are hundreds of Umrah operators who have been fined a total of 2 billion riyals for breaking visa rules during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Saudi authorities have shut down 540 Umrah service providers after their pilgrims overstayed their visas. Each will have to pay between 150 million and 200 million riyals, with the total fines amounting to 2 billion.