As reported by Saudi Gazette, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah officially announced that the Eatmarna application does not yet provide services or options for booking an appointment to kiss Al-Hajar Al-Aswad (the black stone located in the eastern corner of the Kaabah).
The Ministry explained that the tradition of kissing the Black Stone is subject to the regulations of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Mosques. The Ministry also added that permission to enter the Holy Temple had been temporarily abolished without explaining how long the decision would be applied.
The Ministry’s decision is allegedly in line with the Kingdom’s efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus, especially after a new variant of Omicron was confirmed to have entered Saudi Arabia in early December.
The decision is contrary to the steps of the Ministry which had previously taken which announced that there would be an option on the Eatmarna and Tawakkalna Apps to allow worshipers to book an appointment to kiss the Black Stone, touch the Yemeni Corner (Al-Rukn Al-Yamani), and perform prayers in the Hijr Ismaila portion of which is considered as part of the Holy Kaaba.
The Ministry had said that the arrangement was made after adding the “Tawaf” icon on the Eatmarna and Tawakkalna applications to facilitate booking appointments for the performance of tawaf for non-Umrah pilgrims.
Not only that, the Ministry has also made several procedures regarding this, including submitting a proposal to utilize the barriers available in the mataf (the circular area around the Holy Kaaba) so that it can be used to regulate the entry and exit of pilgrims and other worshipers to kiss the Black Stone. Even the ministry sources said that the proposal had been referred to the competent authorities.