After two years, Saudi Arabia recently has lifted all restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic on foreign travelers, including mandatory vaccinations. The 7-month restriction on prayer and Umrah was also have been lifted last October.
The easing of restrictions appears to be welcome by pilgrims wishing to perform Umrah during Ramadan 2022. It can be seen from the large number of pilgrims who are expected to perform Umrah during the fasting month of Ramadan, as stated by the Deputy Minister of Hajj and Umrah Saudi Dr. Abdulfattah Mashat. He said that Masjidil Haram is expected to welcome over 400,000 pilgrims during the holy month.
Umrah is widely open for foreign travelers. Saudi Arabia will not limit the number of upcoming travelers. However, the daily number of pilgrims will be determined according to the capacity at the Grand Mosque to avoid overcrowding, explained Dr. Abdulfattah Mashat in his speech to Asharq Al-Awsat.
He said Umrah pilgrims experienced a significant increase as the Kingdom gradually eased coronavirus-related restrictions. It is known that the Two Holy Mosques now welcome hundreds of thousands of pilgrims every day.
Mashat said that the policy of lifting restrictions was considered the pandemic situation in the Kingdom, which seemed to be making progress. It is also supported by the high rate of vaccination and the level of health services in Saudi Arabia.
Furthermore, he also praised the Eatmarna application, which the minister of health developed for having played a major role in facilitating the official process for pilgrims worldwide.
When asked about the estimated number of pilgrims who will make the holy journey this year, he replied that it was too early to tell, considering the Ministry of Health is still assessing the development of the pandemic and its impact.
He also stressed that Saudi Arabia had not set a limit on how many pilgrims it would accept. The Kingdom will accept anyone who obtains permission to perform Umrah until now.