COVID-19: Over 108,000 Umrah permits issued

Cairo: Over 108,000 Umrah permits have been issued in Saudi Arabia in the first days of the launch of a smartphone application processing application for performing the ritual, the Ministry of Haj and Umrah has reported.

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Starting from Sunday, Saudi Arabia will resume Umrah and visits to the two holy mosques in Mecca and Medina according to a phased plan amid observance of stringent measures against the coronavirus.

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The entry of pilgrims to the Grand Mosque is regulated through the application “I’tamarna” which translates to “We’ve performed the Umrah”.

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Since the launch of the app on September 27 and until October 108,041 permits have been issued. They include 42,873 permits for Saudi citizens and 65,128 for foreign residents, the ministry’s figures showed, according to the Saudi news agency SPA.

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Around 16,000 pilgrims were registered via the app in its first hour. Muslims aged over 60, wishing to perform the Umrah, accounted for the highest age group with 35 per cent of the total of those who registered for the ritual, according to the figures.

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The first group of pilgrims and visitors will be received at 6am (7am Dubai time) on Sunday, SPA said.

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According to a gradual plan announced by Saudi authorities last month, Saudis and foreign residents in the kingdom will be allowed in the first phase to perform Umrah at a capacity of 30 per cent amid stringent precautions against the spread of COVID-19.

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Muslims abroad will be allowed to go to Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah as of November 1.

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