Saudi Arabia will begin receiving requests for worship from dying abroad for vaccinated worshipers on August 9th.
Saudi Arabia says it will begin receiving requests for Umrah worship from vaccinated foreign worshipers on August 9th.
The message in the state media early Sunday came about 18 months after the kingdom closed its borders to foreign worshipers due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Saudi news agency said authorities at the ministry in charge of coordinating foreign pilgrims would start “receiving Umra’s requests from around the world” on Monday.
Initially, the permits will be given to 60,000 Umrah worshipers a month, but that number will gradually increase to two million a month, the report said.
Overseas worshipers will have to include authorized COVID-19 vaccination certificates along with their Umrah application, the statement said.
Vaccinated pilgrims from countries not on Saudi Arabia’s list will be subject to institutional quarantine upon arrival, he added.
Umrah is a pilgrimage to the two holiest places of Islam in the cities of Mecca and Medina and can be undertaken at any time of the year. It differs from the Hajj, which is held once a year.
The COVID-19 pandemic interrupted both pilgrimages, which are usually key revenue earners for the kingdom. Together, they raise about $ 12 billion a year in normal times.
Saudi Arabia stopped Umrah after the pandemic, but reopened it to immunized home worshipers last October.
The Hajj took place in July both this year and last year, albeit on a reduced basis.
In all, Saudi Arabia has reported nearly 532,000 coronavirus cases and more than 8,300 deaths.
His government has accelerated the national vaccination campaign as it seeks to revive tourism and other sectors affected by the pandemic, such as sports competitions and entertainment.
Vaccination is mandatory for anyone who wants to enter public and private institutions, including educational institutions and entertainment venues, as well as use public transport.