Cairo: Saudi Arabia said it has cancelled the Umrah host visa that allowed foreign residents and Saudi citizens to host Muslims from outside the kingdom to perform the lesser pilgrimage.
The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah announced the cancellation of the visa in replay to a related query.
“The Umrah host visa has been cancelled. In case of any update, it will be announced via the ministry’s official channels,” it added, according to Saudi news portal Sabq without details.
Saudi authorities have recently tightened rules for undertaking the Umrah rituals at the Grand Mosque in Mecca as part of precautions to curb spread of COVID-19. Last month, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said a decision restricting repetition of Umrah to a 10-day gap also applies to overseas Muslims.
Pilgrims arriving from abroad are allowed to stay in Saudi Arabia for 30 days and have to meet certain requirements, according to the ministry.
They have to be aged 12 and above, and show status of immunization on the health app Tawakkalna.
Based on the 10-day interval for repeating Umrah, the overseas Muslims could undertake the rituals three times at most during their 30-day stay.
The ministry attributed the decision to restrict Umrah repetition to recent precautions against COVID-19 reimposed in the two holy mosques in Mecca and Medina.
In October 2020, Saudi Arabia resumed Umrah after about seven months of suspension due to the global pandemic.
Last December, Saudi Arabia reintroduced physical distancing in the two holy mosques after it was cancelled in October.