islam-3782623_1920 Umrah
The Holy Kaaba in Mecca. Picture for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Agency

Cairo: The current Umrah season for overseas Muslims in Saudi Arabia is due to end on the 30th of the Islamic month of Shawwal, Saudi authorities said as the kingdom is gearing up for receiving Muslims from abroad to attend the annual Hajj pilgrimage for the first time in two years.  The date corresponds to May 31 in the Gregorian calendar.

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah set Shawwal 30, the month that follows Ramadan, as the deadline for overseas Muslims to perform umrah or lesser pilgrimage, Saudi news portal Ajel reported.

“The deadline for applying to obtain an umrah visa for those outside the kingdom is Shawwal 15 of every Hijira [Islamic] year] in coordination with the Saudi Foreign Ministry,” the ministry added, according to Ajel.

Saudi Arabia has issued around 5 million mandatory umrah permits since Ramadan started on April 2, according to a Saudi official.

More than 1 million visas have since been issued for Muslims from abroad, spokesman for the ministry told Saudi state TV Al Ekhbariya, citing an increase in numbers of umrah pilgrims after recent relaxation of anti-coronavirus restrictions in the kingdom. Ramadan is usually the peak season for umrah.

Saudi authorities have recently eased measures for performing umrah as the kingdom has largely relaxed restrictions against COVID-19.

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has lifted several precautionary measures including cancellations of permits for praying at the Grand Mosque in Mecca and visiting the Prophet’s Mohammed Mosque in Medina.

The Ministry has also said the immunisation check to enter both holy sites has been scrapped for all worshippers.

The ministry has, moreover, cancelled the once-obligatory registration of immunisation data for overseas Muslims to get an umrah permit.

A mandatory presentation of a negative PCR test result to get access to both sacred places has been lifted too.