The General Presidency which oversees the affairs of the Two Holy Mosques issued some new protocols for the gradual resumption of Umrah from October 4th.
One of the main protocol was the continuation of barring access to the Kaâbah during Tawaaf. The pilgrims will not be able to touch the Kaâbah nor kiss the Black stone as a precautionary measure and barriers will remain around the Kaâbah
Some sources suggested to âHaramain Sharifainâ that women and men will be divided into different groups as we had seen during the Hajj season however this is yet to be confirmed by officials.
"No children allowed"- Only people between the ages of 18-65 will be able to register and perform Umrah
Also Read: âRawdah to reopen after 7 monthsâ
Zamzam coolers will remain inoperational however disposable Zamzam bottles will be distributed among the pilgrims
Among other protocols will be maintaining social distancing during Tawaaf as we have seen during the Hajj season. Pilgrims on any day during the first phase will be divided into groups of 12 and will be headed by a leader who will guide the pilgrims throughout their 3 hours of the allotted time. A health professional will also accompany each group.
The Presidency also announced that no one will be allowed to enter the Masjid without a valid Umrah permit.
The Sanitization department told that that Mosque will be sanitized 10 times per day and before and after the departure of each Umrah the group as well.
The President of the General Presidency Sheikh Abdul Rehman Al Sudais also announced the setting up an executive committee which will serve pilgrims and would have members from all institutions.
The Kingdom is adopting extra vigilance during the Hajj and Umrah seasons to protect Muslims around the world
Umrah app to be available on Android soon
MAKKAH: Pilgrims must wait 14 days before booking another date for Umrah, while the Eatmarna app will be launched on Android soon, the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said.
âPilgrims can perform Umrah twice, but must wait 14 days before performing Umrah the second time, to give a chance to everyone to perform Umrah in line with the necessary precautionary measures brought about by the coronavirus,â Dr. Amr Al-Maddah, the ministryâs chief planning and strategy officer, told Arab News.
The ministry is studying the available spots that can be used by the pilgrims to perform Umrah while maintaining social distancing, ensuring health protocols.
Al-Maddah said that so far 35,000 requests have been registered to perform Umrah.
Pilgrims will start performing Umrah on Oct. 4 within the first stage of the Umrah plan this year, in line with health protocols and procedures.
In the first phase, pilgrims will perform Umrah at six different times a day, giving each pilgrim three hours.
He added that between the sunset and evening prayers, pilgrims will not be allowed to perform Umrah and, instead, this period will be allocated to cleaning and disinfecting. âPilgrims will start performing Umrah at midnight, with the place disinfected before the arrival of each group.â
Each group will be accompanied by supervisors who will ensure pilgrims respect social distancing, and follow instructions and a pre-adopted timeline. Isolation rooms will be provided at the central areaâs hotels to handle any potential cases.
The second stage, scheduled to start two weeks later, will be preceded by a comprehensive assessment of the first stage to address any shortcomings.
âThe Kingdom is adopting extra vigilance during the Hajj and Umrah seasons to protect Muslims around the world, and allow them to perform their pilgrimage in ease and peace in line with precautionary measures,â said Al-Maddah.
âThe three-stage plan will provide feedback on pilgrimsâ commitment to protocols and adjustment to current circumstances.â
He said that the app was supposed to be launched earlier, but was delayed due to Android policies.
The app was presented to both Apple and Android at the same time, but Apple completed the procedures earlier, he added.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance, Sheikh Dr. Abdullatif bin Abdul Aziz Al Al-Sheikh, announced the ministryâs readiness to receive Umrah performers in all Miqats in accordance with approved health protocols.
He commended leadership efforts to confront the pandemic, in addition to the government sector role in ensuring the safety of citizens, residents and Umrah performers.
The presidency stressed the Grand Mosqueâs readiness to receive pilgrims. (REUTERS)
arab.news/gddeb Saudi pilgrims were granted 42,873 permits while expats were granted 65,168
October 02, 2020
MAKKAH: A total of 108,041 permits were issued for pilgrims between the launch of the Eatmarna app on Sept. 27 up to Oct. 1, according to official statistics released by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah.
Saudis were granted 42,873 permits while expats were granted 65,168.
As many as 16,000 pilgrims registered for Umrah on the app in the first hour of its launch; the number reached 309,686 Saudis and expats by the end of the first week of its launch, including 224,929 registered pilgrims and 84,757 companions.
Statistics have also shown that among those wishing to perform Umrah, pilgrims aged between 51 and 60 years old represented the lowest percentage with 8 percent, followed by pilgrims between 41 and 50 years old with 14 percent, pilgrims between 20 and 30 years with 17 percent, pilgrims between 31 and 40 years old with 26 percent and pilgrims over 60 years old with 35 percent.
The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques told Arab News that several scenarios have been adopted to organize the pilgrimsâ movement inside the Grand Mosque during this yearâs exceptional Umrah season. In the first scenario, pilgrims will perform Umrah rituals in a spiral motion, from the outside to the inside of the Grand Mosque, and in the second pilgrims will be divided into groups of 50 accompanied by supervisors.
The ministry said that the first phase will run for 13 days, and in the second phase permits will be issued for prayers in the Grand Mosque and the Prophetâs Sacred Chamber, while in the third stage Muslims from outside the Kingdom will be allowed to perform Umrah.
The presidency stressed the Grand Mosqueâs readiness to receive pilgrims â an integral plan was developed for this Umrah season to serve pilgrims and ensure their safety.
This came during a remote press conference held recently by the presidency, during which the deputy president for administrative and financial affairs, Dr. Saad bin Mohammed Al-Mohaimeed, said that the presidency has recruited more than 1,000 employees to follow up on pilgrims at the Grand Mosque.
FASTFACT The number of pilgrims registered for Umrah on the app by the end of the first week of its launch reached 309,686.
The presidency, he added, has taken proactive measures with a plan that ensures the development of work, improvement of performance and training of human cadres.
âEmployees will be working according to shifts to serve 2,000 pilgrims, with 125 supervisors in each shift. Supervisors from the presidency and the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah will cooperate and coordinate to organize the crowds,â he said.
Meanwhile, the deputy president of services and technical affairs at the Grand Mosque, Mohammed bin Musleh Al-Jabiri, said that thermal cameras will be installed at the gates, pilgrims will be banned from taking food and beverages into the Grand Mosque, social distancing between pilgrims will be observed, and the use of public touch screens will not be allowed.
The deputy president of architectural studies and projects, Sultan Al-Qurshi, said that two tracks have been set for Tawaf (circumambulation), where each group of 100 pilgrims will be given 15 minutes to perform the seven rounds of Tawaf, allowing 6,000 pilgrims to perform Tawaf during the 15 hours allocated for the ritual.
He said that there is a possibility of adding a third track, where up to 150 pilgrims will be allowed 15 minutes to perform Tawaf; 6,000 pilgrims in 10 hours.
At least 1,000 employees have been enlisted to monitor Umrah rituals at the Grand Mosque
The Mataf area will only be used by Umrah pilgrims to perform the Tawaf ritual to ensure their safety and comfort
October 03, 2020
RIYADH: Makkahâs Grand Mosque will see the return of Umrah pilgrims on Sunday for the first time since the pilgrimage was temporarily suspended due to the coronavirus, with the exception of Hajj.
Pilgrims will gather at allocated sites in Makkah including Ajyad, Al-Shasha, Al-Gazzah and Al-Zahir, and will be transported to the mosque by special busses. They will be accompanied by a health care professional.
The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques is prepared to receive pilgrims and has various preventative measures in place to ensure their safety, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
At least 1,000 employees have been enlisted to monitor Umrah rituals at the Grand Mosque and it is cleaned 10 times a day.
The mosqueâs toilets are cleaned six times a day and carpets, floors, Zamzam water fountains and all maintenance vehicles are sanitized around the clock.
Sanitizing devices have been installed at the entrances of the mosque and on escalators. Air-conditioning systems are cleaned with ultraviolet rays and scent is sprayed in the mosque frequently.
Thermal cameras are being used in the mosque to identify people with high body temperatures.
The Mataf area surrounding the Kaaba will only be used by Umrah pilgrims to perform the Tawaf ritual to ensure their safety and comfort.
Seeing the mataf around the Kaaba filled with pilgrims again offers a sight to behold, say pilgrims
October 05, 2020
JEDDAH: Viewers across Saudi Arabia and the world tuned in last night to watch the first of the Kingdomâs residents perform Umrah after a more-than-six-month hiatus. It was once impossible to image that the two Holy Mosques would shut their doors to pilgrims and worshippers for so long. With the return of prayers at the Prophetâs Mosque on May 31, the suspense grew and many were anxious to see when Makkahâs Grand Mosque would resume activities as well.
After a grueling wait, royal decrees and safety and protection plans by authorities, the first group of pilgrims appeared on viewersâ screens circumambulating around the Kaaba after midnight on Sunday.
âSeeing the Mataf around the Kaaba filled with pilgrims again, even at minimum capacity, was a sight to behold,â said 30-year-old Dania Ahmed, a private sector employee in Jeddah. âYou can sense the intensity of the situation with the months closure and though weâll gradually be able to perform Umrah again, itâs comforting to see people fill up the blessed place again.
Theyâre the lucky ones and weâll soon follow suit.â
After the lifting of the ban on performing Umrah, which was imposed months ago due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, 1,000 pilgrims arrived at the Grand Mosque in Makkah.
Preventive measures applied to those entering the Grand Mosque included temperature checks, sanitization operations, smart bands, face coverings and social distancing while performing Umrah rituals.
For the residents of Makkah, used to visiting the Grand Mosque to pray, recite the Qurâan, attend classes or sit across the Kaaba and take in the grand site, it has been a difficult adjustment. For centuries, the cityâs residents walked through the mosqueâs gates with ease until the coronavirus struck.
Thoraya Abdulghaffar Abulshakour, an elderly resident of Makkah who frequents the Grand Mosque to perform prayers, was in a state of disbelief at being able to return after seven months.
âI longed to visit the mosque, and tears would well up in my eyes every time I saw it on TV,â she said. âThe pandemic spread and prevented us from doing many things. It closed our mosques and deprived us of our families, but this was only to protect our health and ensure our safety. Our wise leadership had a great role, and we are proud to live in this country that puts the safety of citizens and residents above all else.â
Abdulghaffar was impressed by the preventive measures implemented inside the Grand Mosque to ensure the safety of pilgrims and staff. She said that these measures and services had been provided for decades, only now they were delivered with more concentration due to the threat of COVID-19 to the community, especially for the elderly.
Abdulghaffar performed the ritual with her son after he successfully applied to do so using the Eatmarna app. âI was delighted to be able to perform Umrah after having not done so for seven months. I live in Makkah and never expected to be able to enter the Grand Mosque for months, but tonight we see pilgrims return amid the distinguished services provided by the General Presidency of the Grand Mosque and the Prophetâs Mosque,â she said.
Abdulwahhab Mohammed Al-Amin, a Yemeni national who lives in Makkah, said that he had been looking forward to the visit, especially after learning that the coronavirus ban on Umrah has been lifted. This prompted him to apply for a permit and be among those in the first group of Umrah pilgrims to enter the Grand Mosque
Al-Amin said: âSince entering the Grand Mosque, I noticed that all services were well provided to me and to the Umrah pilgrims, and the preventive measures were being applied in an organized manner.â
He highlighted that the most notable services had been the high level of cleanliness, the sanitization operations, and the provision of Zamzam water bottles in a safe and orderly manner. He noticed a number of officials supervising the work to ensure it flowed in an organized and competent manner, giving him a sense of calm and ease.
Arriving from Riyadh, Mishaan Al-Harbi, a Saudi national, performed the ritual with his family. He said that seeing the Grand Mosque on television made it easy to apply, especially as he and his wife had always hoped to perform Umrah in an empty Mataf (the circumambulation area around the Kaaba).
HIGHLIGHTS â˘ It was once impossible to image that the two Holy Mosques would shut their doors to pilgrims and worshippers for so long.
â˘ With the return of prayers at the Prophetâs Mosque on May 31, the suspense grew and many were anxious to see when Makkahâs Grand Mosque would resume activities as well.
Al-Harbi said that he and his wife were hesitant to bring along their toddler daughter because she might not be allowed to enter the mosque, but things went smoothly and everyone had been helpful throughout the process.
Born and raised in the Kingdom, Saleh Mohammed Hajj, a Pakistani national living in Makkah who was also one of the few that entered the Grand Mosque on the first day, said that he was proud to have been born in Saudi Arabia. He added that he was fortunate to live in a country where people, their health and their safety were a primary goal. âThis is evident in the way the Saudi government addressed the pandemic,â he said. âAnd today, we see these measures and organization, which aim to protect peopleâs health and ensure their safety.â
Applicants can register on the Eatmarna app and gain access to dates and book time slots in advance.
Hard work and planning behind successful return of Umrah
arab.news/8cwva The app not only provides Umrah licenses but allows pilgrims to book transportation from parking lots to the Grand Mosque
October 05, 2020
MAKKAH: After careful coordination and planning, the first phase of the resumption of Umrah has brought joy to Muslims everywhere, but hard work still lies ahead for authorities ensuring the safety of pilgrims at the Makkah Grand Mosque, officials say.
Saudi Deputy Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr. Abdulfattah bin Sulaiman Mashat said that the decision to restore Umrah had made Muslims in Saudi Arabia and abroad very happy. âThe plan (has been) developed in coordination with all relevant authorities, and all authorities concerned with Hajj and Umrah are cooperating and coordinating according to one plan,â he said.
He added that all phases will be assessed and reviewed to ensure successful implementation. A meeting with the Ministry of Health will be held after the second phase to determine the list of countries that will be open to Umrah, as well as the number of pilgrims to perform Umrah through the Eatmarna app.
The app not only provides Umrah licenses but allows pilgrims to book transportation from parking lots to the Grand Mosque. The app will soon cover other services such as hotel bookings.
Serving pilgrims has always been a priority in Saudi Arabia, since its establishment by founder King Abdul Aziz. âThe Ministry of Hajj and Umrah is monitoring and improving services to provide pilgrims with a beautiful and memorable spiritual journey,â the deputy minister said.
Serving pilgrims has always been a priority in Saudi Arabia, since its establishment by founder King Abdul Aziz.
Dr. Wael Hamzah Mutair, director general of Makkah Health Affairs, told Arab News that the central area had been fully prepared to receive pilgrims, in line with plans developed by coordination committees. Dr. Mutair said that social distancing between pilgrims was being observed and health measures taken by all hospitals near the central area surrounding the Grand Mosque to be ready to deal with any emergency.
âEmergency centers in the central area are highly efficient and provided with modern medical equipment and treatment services to deal with the pandemic,â he told Arab News. âField teams have been deployed inside the Grand Mosque to ensure pilgrims and relevant authoritiesâ commitment to health measures.â
Osama Samkari, general director assistant for transport at the General Syndicate of Cars at the Grand Mosque, said the syndicate has provided 50 buses to transport the groups of pilgrims.
Each group includes 200 pilgrims, who are granted three hours to perform Umrah rituals; beginning and ending in the triage areas.
âPilgrims are given access to free parking before being transported in sterilized buses to and from the Grand Mosques, in line with the precautionary measures,â he said.
Pilgrims assembling at each area will need to be aware of the time needed to reach their starting point and are advised to be ready at the check points well ahead of schedule.
Competitiveness in the sector âlikely to return by 2023â
October 07, 2020
MAKKAH: Makkah hotel prices have been slashed to unprecedented levels in the Umrah season, with the price of rooms dropping as low as SR38 ($10) in some areas.
Five-star hotels with a full view of the Grand Mosque in Makkah are getting ready to resume their activity and restore normality to the hotel industry by offering great discounts.
The holy city contains more than 1,400 hotels, which make up more than two third of the accommodation sector in the whole of Saudi Arabia.
Known to have the highest prices through the year, which peak about three times during busy seasons, hotel rooms near the Grand Mosque currently cost between SR250 and SR700 ($77-$187).
A tweet by Hajj and Umrah Minister Dr. Mohammed Saleh Benten, brought attention to central Makkah hotels that have endured through the testing times of the pandemic.
Benten expressed his gratitude and happiness for the striking offers made by Makkah hotels, and described them as safe environments that take health requirements into account.
Abdullah Filali, chairman of the hotel committee at the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told Arab News that the promotions announced by some hotels are a gradual means to revitalize the sector. He said the pricing is just the beginning of a gradual, progressive return to health for the troubled industry.
Filali noted that prices do not reflect employment volume, which fell to the low levels after the pandemic hit. âAll hotels had to resort to the state aid âSANED,â to keep their employees and fix their documents,â he said.
The price of rooms has dropped as low as SR38 in some areas.
He added that only four central hotels had started to come back to life and that the recovery of the accommodation sector will be well underway by October 2021. Competitiveness will return by the end of 2023, Filali said.
The manager of one hotel overlooking central Makkah, Fadel Munqal, said that state efforts to serve Muslims are clear and evident through the protection of pilgrim safety. Steps to resume Umrah were compliant with health and precautionary plans and ensure the protection of health and safety, he added.
âThe Kingdom seeks to reach the highest levels of reassurance and readiness for all pilgrims of different nationalities, which will be achieved with the beginning of the third phase of the plan. It will indicate the actual comeback of the accommodation sector and enable pilgrims to experience an integrated spiritual and tourism experience,â Munqal said.
He added that the Kingdom sacrificed economic welfare in a noble move to protect pilgrim safety during Hajj and Umrah.
Munqal said that Saudi Arabia possesses the capabilities to help hotels compete â in compliance with precautionary measures â with the arrival of pilgrims from across the world. He added that Makkah provides Islamic sites, in addition to important historical museums.
Grand Mosque library
The library of Makkahâs Grand Mosque has launched more than 16 initiatives to start welcoming visitors. The library will receive 30 visitors per hour amid strict social distancing measures.
It is considered a beacon of knowledge, covering an area of 1,000 square meters and containing 30,000 books and 5,600 titles.
Tens of thousands of Zamzam bottles have been distributed among pilgrims on a daily
Air-conditioning systems and filters were receiving nine daily cleans using ultraviolet sanitizing technology
October 07, 2020
JEDDAH: At least 24,000 pilgrims have performed Umrah since the Grand Mosque in Makkah reopened its doors to worshippers on Saturday, with no reported cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), figures have revealed.
The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques on Wednesday said that strict health and safety measures had been introduced to protect pilgrims and help stop the spread of the virus.
âOur precautionary measures plan for Umrah with COVID-19 is based on protection, sanitization, crowd management, and raising awareness,â said presidency spokesperson Hani Haider.
âWe have prepared four isolation sites for pilgrims with suspicious symptoms. However, no suspected COVID-19 case has yet been reported.â
In order to ensure social distancing, the presidency has designated special pathways for elderly and disabled people to help them safely perform Umrah rituals.
Haider pointed out that efforts were being concentrated on the sanitization of the Grand Mosque and its arenas with 4,000 workers doing an average 10 cleans a day. More than 1,800 liters of eco-friendly disinfectants and sanitizers were also being used to clean toilets six times each day.
Air-conditioning systems and filters were receiving nine daily cleans using ultraviolet sanitizing technology, and more than 200 hand-sanitizing devices had been distributed around the Grand Mosque.
A ban on food and drinks at the Grand Mosque remained in place but the presidency was looking to employ the latest technology to redistribute Zamzam water containers again while maintaining precautionary measures and preventing contact between pilgrims, added Haider.
Meanwhile, the presidency has been distributing tens of thousands of Zamzam bottles among pilgrims on a daily basis and its dedicated 1966 hotline was available around the clock to answer calls from worshippers.
The Saudi Ministry of Health announced on Wednesday 468 new cases of COVID-19 in the country, taking the total number of confirmed cases in the Kingdom to 337,711. There were currently 9,556 active cases, 913 of which were receiving medical care.
Madinah recorded the highest number of newly confirmed cases at 71, with Makkah reporting 53, Yanbu 31, and Al-Hofuf 29.
In addition, 596 patients had recovered from COVID-19, raising the total number of recoveries to 323,208. The death toll reached 4,947 with 24 new deaths reported.
Madinah was the Saudi city that witnessed the highest number of recoveries at 118, with Jeddah and Riyadh recording 43 each, and Makkah 34 recoveries in the past 24 hours.
Ministry spokesman, Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly, pointed out the importance of people adhering to rules about wearing face masks.
âFace masks are extremely important to maintain health in these circumstances and no harm will result from wearing them on a daily basis. Some people have been wearing them for years due to their work necessities without any harm coming to them,â he said.
Al-Aly noted that the Kingdomâs success in curbing the spread of infection was chiefly due to public diligence on the wearing of masks, adding that some countries were witnessing a second wave of COVID-19 partly as a result of people going too far in relaxing their commitment to preventive behaviors.
The ministry has so far conducted 6,828,117 polymerase chain reaction tests since the virus outbreak in the country in early March, with 52,184 carried out in the latest 24-hour period
This cannot be undone and I am sure it will be greatly appreciated.
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