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Stage set for Umra by foreign pilgrims

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MAKKAH: After a seven-month hiatus, some 10,000 pilgrims were scheduled to arrive in Saudi Arabia from abroad to perform Umra and visit Masjid-i-Nabawi in Madina on Sunday, the first day of the third stage of the resumption of Umra.

The 10,000 international pilgrims will first have to obtain a permit and upon their arrival in Saudi Arabia they will be kept in isolation for three days before being transported to Miqat sites, principal boundaries at which pilgrims intending to perform Umra must change into Ihram.

The kingdom’s deputy minister of Haj and Umra, Dr Amr Al-Maddah, said that the 10,000 pilgrims can stay in the country for up to 10 days, three of which are for isolation. As per protocol, 500 groups of international pilgrims are dispersed throughout the day, each with 20 pilgrims. The maximum age limit for international pilgrims is 50.

According to Arab News, the deputy minister said that countries are subject to continuous evaluation as part of the government’s approved standards and protocols. Visas for pilgrims arriving from countries that are seeing a noticeable increase in numbers will be placed on hold.

With the start of the third stage, the holy mosques will be working at 100 per cent capacity, a pivotal stage for companies in the sector.

According to the deputy minister, if at any stage there is a cause for concern or danger to pilgrims, the ministry will evaluate the situation and return to previous stages and decrease capacity.

Published in Dawn, November 2nd, 2020

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