The faithful performing the Maghreb (sunset) prayers on Saturday at the Grand Mosque. Image Credit: Source: General Authority for Care of the Two Holy Mosques

Cairo: Saudi Arabia has said repetition of performing Umrah or minor pilgrimage in Mecca during Ramadan is not permitted to ease overcrowding.

Ramadan, which started last week, usually marks the peak season of Umrah at the Grand Mosque, Islam’s holiest site.

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The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said no permit is issued for performing two or more Umrahs in Ramadan, urging the faithful to make do with one lesser pilgrimage in the sacred month.

The ministry explained that the restriction aims to ease congestion, give others the chance to undertake Umrah and help in crowd management, a Saudi newspaper reported.

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According to Nusuk, a Saudi government platform facilitating Umrah procedures electronically, in case of trying to obtain a permit for a second Umrah by the same person, a message would appear reading: “The permit issuance fails. To give everyone the chance to perform Umrah, the lesser pilgrimage can’t be repeated in Ramadan”.

Umrah visa

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

To cope with the expected influx, Saudi authorities have unveiled a series of measures to help worshippers perform rites smoothly and comfortably.

The circumambulation courtyard of the mosque around the Holy Kaaba and the ground floor are designated for Umrah pilgrims during Ramadan.

Likewise, authorities have allocated certain gates of the sprawling mosques for pilgrims’ entry and exit to stave off overcrowding.

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 also extended the Umrah visa from 30 days to 90.