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Worshippers gather at the Grand Mosque in Mecca. Image Credit: The General Presidency for Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques

Cairo: Saudi authorities have urged Umrah pilgrims not to sleep at the Grand Mosque, Islam’s holiest site in Mecca, to head off congestion in the place as more Muslims are heading to the kingdom to perform lesser pilgrimage.

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has told Umrah pilgrims and visitors to the site to avoid reclining and sleeping at the mosque, home to the Holy Kaaba.

The ministry noted that the practice infringes regulations at the sacred site.

“The Guest of Allah, we hope you’ll shun reclining or lying, particularly in the corridors, prayer places, the tracks of emergency carts or those designated for the physically disabled,” the minister said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

The ministry had earlier exhorted the worshippers to shun jostling and crowding at the Grand Mosque. The faithful are also urged to give priority to women and the elderly at the site.

The ministry has stressed the necessity of observing order, regulated lines and cooperating with security guards.

Millions of Muslims from around the world annually flock to the Grand Mosque to perform Umrah and offer prayers.

10 million faithful expected

Saudi Arabia expects around 10 million Muslims from abroad to do Umrah during the current season.

The season commenced weeks ago, timed with the start of the new Islamic Hijri year.

The season began after the end of the annual Islamic Hajj pilgrimage that around 1.8 million Muslims attended for the first time in three years after pandemic-related restrictions were lifted.

In recent months, Saudi Arabia has unveiled a host of facilities for overseas Muslims to come to the country to do 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 in Medina 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.