Umrah saudi Grand mosque
Pilgrims keeping social distance perform Umrah in the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, July 17, 2021. Image Credit: Reuters

Cairo: More than 10 million Muslim pilgrims are expected in the new season of Umrah or lesser pilgrimage that is due soon in Saudi Arabia, an expectation reminiscent of pre-pandemic figures.

“It is expected that over 10 million Umrah pilgrims will enter [the kingdom] in the Hejira year 1444 and they will enjoy constant care from the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah,” said Hani Al Omairi, a member of the National Committee for Hajj and Umrah.

He added in media remarks that companies inside Saudi Arabia and overseas agents have been readied for serving Umrah pilgrims in the new season that is due to start on the first day of Al Muhram, the first month in the lunar Islamic calendar expected to begin on July 30 according to astronomical calculations.

“Over 2,000 qualified overseas agents from all countries of the world are accredited by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, plus 34 local and foreign booking platforms offering packages for groups and individuals,” Al Omairi added.

In October 2020, Saudi Arabia gradually resumed Umrah after about seven months of suspension due to the global pandemic.

In August last year, overseas Muslims wishing to perform Umrah were allowed back into Saudi Arabia under certain health conditions to curb COVID-19 spread.

In March, Saudi Arabia lifted most anti-coronavirus restrictions. This included scrapping physical distancing among worshippers at the Grand Mosque in Mecca and the Prophet’s Mohammed Mosque in Medina.