West Asia

Saudi Arabia to reopen borders to vaccinated pilgrims for ‘umrah’ at Mecca

Published : August 09, 2021 14:50 IST

Pilgrims keeping social distance perform their umrah in the Grand Mosque during the annual hajj pilgrimage in Mecca. Photo: Saudi Ministry of Media/REUTERS

The move comes 18 months after a border closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Saudi Arabia will gradually begin accepting vaccinated pilgrims from abroad to the Islamic holy city of Mecca starting August 9 as part of the umrah pilgrimage, the state news agency reported.

"The Ministry of Hajj and umrah announced the start of receiving umrah performers of citizens and residents, in addition to gradually receiving umrah requests from various countries of the world," the Saudi Press Agency said on August 8.

According to the report, vaccinated worshipers from countries that the Middle Eastern kingdom includes on its entry-ban list will have to undergo institutional quarantine upon arrival. Foreign pilgrims must also be inoculated with a Saudi-recognized vaccine.

Umrah — which is undertaken at any time of the year unlike the annual pilgrimage of hajj — was reopened for domestic pilgrims in October. Both pilgrimages are key revenue earners for Saudi Arabia, bringing in around $12 billion (10.3 billion euros) annually in normal times.

dvv/sms (AFP, Reuters)

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