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Monday, January 24, 2022

Heading to Umrah this year? Here’s what you need to know


Only those who have been fully vaccinated can perform Umrah in Saudi Arabia.

Those returning to Qatar from Umrah in Saudi Arabia can now undergo a PCR test on arrival at Hamad International Airport or Abu Samra port at a cost of QR 300 per test, Qatar’s ministry of health announced.

This is an option in case returning travellers are unable to provide a valid negative PCR test taken no longer than 72 hours prior to travel. Upon arrival, citizens and residents will be required to show evidence of vaccination along with their negative test, if carried out prior to departure.

If not, the returnees will be directed to the designated testing location to ensure they are free from the virus.

Likewise, Qatar residents visiting Saudi Arabia are also required to submit a negative PCR test issued by a reliable laboratory to ensure they are Covid-19 free. Per Saudi regulations, only those that have received both doses of the vaccine can perform Umrah and visit Mecca.

Read also: Saudi Arabia mulls another limited Hajj with no overseas pilgrims

All pilgrims are also required to wear masks at all times and abide by precautionary measures implemented in the kingdom. The regulations include social distancing inside the living quarter of pilgrims as well as a maximum of 100 people per group.

Those under 18 and over 60 will not be allowed to perform Hajj and Umrah this year due to the ongoing health crisis.

Limited Hajj?

Meanwhile, recent reports suggested that overseas Hajj pilgrims could be barred from participating in the annual Hajj pilgrimage for the second year in a row as Saudi authorities mull more restrictions as Covid-19 variants continue to appear.

Sources revealed authorities have already suspended earlier plans to host pilgrims from abroad, and will only allow domestic pilgrims who have been vaccinated or have recovered from the coronavirus at least six months before the pilgrimage.

Such a move would hold back even Saudi nationals and residents who have recovered from Covid-19 or received the vaccine in a period less than six months prior to attending the annual pilgrimage.

The initial plan was to allow a limited number of vaccinated pilgrims from abroad, but due to confusion over the types of vaccines, their efficacy and the emergence of new strains, officials are rethinking the strategy.

The kingdom has yet to confirm details of this year’s Hajj.

Read also: Travelling for Umrah from Qatar this year? Here’s all you need to know

Last year, foreigners from abroad were prohibited from performing the Hajj pilgrimage in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Only a limited number of Saudi citizens and residents were allowed to attend.

Prior to the pandemic, some 2.5 million pilgrims from around the world would visit Islam’s two holiest sites in Makkah and Medina for the week-long pilgrimage.

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