Cairo: Saudi Arabia plans to allow overseas individual pilgrims to apply for performing the annual Hajj rites via an electronic platform, Saudi media reported.
The kingdom’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has disclosed it will soon launch the service for individual pilgrims to apply for Hajj from outside Saudi Arabia via the Nusuk platform, Okaz newspaper said.
Also on Thursday, the ministry announced that Saudi citizens and Muslim expatriates living in Saudi Arabia who want to perform Hajj rituals this year can now apply for the pilgrimage.
In a tweet, the ministry said applications for Hajj 2023 season had opened for pilgrims inside Saudi Arabia.
People can apply for Hajj via the ministry’s website localhaj.haj.gov.sa or Nusuk application, the ministry said.
Domestic pilgrims are selected randomly through an online lottery system after being approved to perform Hajj.
The nusuk.sa platform originally enables Muslims wishing to undertake Umrah or visit the holy sites in Saudi Arabia to obtain the necessary visas and permits as well as to book related packages electronically.
Women allowed to perform Hajj without male guardian
The ministry cited its efforts to give Umrah performers from five countries electronic access to bio fingerprinting registration to obtain immediate visas via a smartphone app. These countries are Britain, Tunisia, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Kuwait.
The ministry said it had provided its services for 7 million Umrah pilgrims, including 4 million coming in from abroad, last year.
Saudi Arabia has in recent months unveiled a host of facilities for Muslims wishing to come to the country to undertake Umrah and Haj.
In October last year, the ministry allowed women to perform Hajj without having a male guardian, known as a “Mahram,” on the condition that they go in a group. Female pilgrims can now perform Hajj without male guardians as part of new reforms.
Saudi authorities have also extended Umrah visa from 30 days to 90 and allowed holders to enter the kingdom via all land, air and sea outlets.
In yet a new facilitating step, Saudi Arabia has recently allowed its citizens to invite their friends abroad to visit the kingdom and undertake Umrah.
The Saudi Foreign Ministry said citizens can apply for the personal visit visa via its e-visa platform, allowing the holder to perform Umrah and move across the kingdom including the religious and historical sites.
Millions of Muslims, who cannot afford the Hajj rituals physically or financially, annually fock to Saudi Arabia to undertake Umrah.