COVID-19: Umrah pilgrimage rituals taking 80 minutes to complete on average

Cairo: The duration of performing the Umrah or minor pilgrimage is estimated at 80 minutes on average, according to a Saudi state religious agency.

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The Umrah, which can be undertaken round the year in the Grand Mosque, comprises two key rituals: Tawaf or the circumambulation of the Holy Kaaba; and Sa’i, which is walking seven times back and forth between the hills of Safa and Marwa.

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The General Presidency for Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques explained in a report that the average duration of Tawaf reaches 27 minutes, while that of Sa’i takes up to 47 minutes. Moving from the Tawaf site to that of Sa’i takes six more minutes.

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The holy month of Ramadan is usually a peak Umrah season.

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Saudi authorities have increased the capacity of the Grand Mosque to reach 50,000 Umrah pilgrims and 100,000 worshippers per day in current Ramadan.

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11 tracks

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The number of tracks designated for encircling the Holy Kaaba has also increased by 11 tracks to reach 25 to ensure safe distancing among pilgrims and help them perform the ritual comfortably.

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In October, Saudi Arabia set into motion a plan for gradual resumption of the Umrah after suspension of around seven months amid stringent precautions against COVID-19.

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The first phase of the plan, which began on October 4, allowed 6,000 Umrah pilgrims from inside the kingdom per day into the mosque.

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The second went into effect on October 18, allowing about 40,000 worshippers and 10,000 pilgrims a day into the site. As many as 20,000 Umrah pilgrims and 60,000 worshipers per day were allowed into the mosque according to the third phase that started in November.

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Earlier this month, Saudi authorities announced that only “immunised” people against COVID-19 will be allowed to perform the Umrah and visit the Prophet’s Mosque starting from Ramadan 1.

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The Ministry of Haj and Umrah has defined the eligible “immunised” worshippers as those who have received two doses of vaccination against COVID-19; those receiving a single dose of inoculation at least 14 days in advance; and those who have recovered from the virus infection.

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