Umrah mecca saudi
Muslim worshippers perform the Umrah pilgrimage walk between the Marwa and Safa hills at the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Mecca. Image Credit: AFP

Cairo: Saudi Arabia has urged worshippers to follow a set of steps to help ease overcrowding at Islam’s two holiest sites during Ramadan.

Large number of Muslims from inside and outside the kingdom usually flock to the Grand Mosque in Mecca and the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina during Ramadan.

An official app set up by Saudi Arabia for booking to perform Umrah or minor pilgrimage shows no slots available for the rest of Ramadan. All days of Ramadan, including the last 10 days, appear in grey on the chart of the Nusuk app, meaning there is no room for any more reservations.

Last month, Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has advised the faithful to limit themselves to one Umrah or lesser pilgrimage, make their reservations enough time before undertaking the rites and abide by the timings specified in related permits.

Other recommendations include avoiding carrying large luggage on coming to the Grand Mosque, being keen to perform prayers in designated places without blocking corridors and cooperate with security personnel posted at the two mosques.

Worshippers are also exhorted to perform prayers within the perimetres outside the two mosques to give an easy access to fellows showing up for Umrah.

Umrah at the Grand Mosque surges particularly during the last 10 days of Ramadan, which marks the peak season of the minor pilgrimage that can be performed around the year.

Saudi Arabia has in recent months unveiled a slew of facilities for Muslims wishing to come to the country to undertake Umrah. The facilities apply to Muslims holding different types of entry visas such as the personal, visit and tourism visas.

Millions of Muslims, who cannot afford the annual Hajj rituals physically or financially, annually go to Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah.