Pilgrims perform Umrah at the Grand Mosque in Mecca during rain on Sunday. Image Credit: General Authority for Care of the Two Holy Mosques

Cairo: Muslims planning to perform Umrah or lesser pilgrimage in Mecca in Saudi Arabia these days need to get anti-slippery footwear, umbrellas and pay attention to weather updates.

Saudi Arabia has this week experienced heavy rains in several regions, prompting suspension of classes at education institutions.

Presenting a set of advice to the faithful, the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has advised women pilgrims to put on rain overcoats as part of preparations for undertaking Umrah rites at the Grand Mosque, Islam’s holiest site in Mecca.

In the event of rainfall while undertaking Umrah, pilgrims are advised to take steady steps during the ritual encircling of the Holy Kaaba at the Grand Mosque, remove socks to avoid slipping, complete the circumambulation indoors on the upper floors of the sacred site during heavy rainfall and heed security personnel’s directives.

In case of experiencing a health problem, the pilgrim should stop circumambulation immediately, the ministry said.

Saudi Arabia expects around 10 million Muslims from abroad to perform Umrah during the current season that started more than three months ago.

The season began after the end of annual Islamic Hajj pilgrimage that around 1.8 million Muslims attended in Saudi Arabia 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.

In recent months, Saudi Arabia has unveiled 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 tourist 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 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. Women pilgrims are no longer required to be escorted by male guardians.

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.