Saudi Arabia to Introduce Age Restriction for International Umrah Pilgrims
Saudi Arabia has recently announced the introduction of the age restriction for all foreigners who plan to perform Umrah. According to the new regulation, the youngest visitors who can obtain Umrah permission need to be at least 18 years old, while the oldest pilgrim cannot be older than 50 years.
What is Umrah?
Umrah is a pilgrimage to Mecca. It can be done at any time of the year, but it is most commonly performed during Ramadan and Hajj season, which are times when Muslims believe that spiritual rewards are multiplied.
Umrah includes some rituals that differ from those found in the hajj, including circling around the Kaaba seven times and running between Safa and Marwah on opposite sides of Mount Arafat.
Umrah Pilgrims make this journey to Mecca at least once in their lifetime if they can afford it. All Muslims around the world want to come here at some point during their lives; however, many cannot due to financial issues or other reasons that may prevent them from undertaking such a pilgrimage.
Umrah Latest Regulations
Having observed a significant decrease in positive coronavirus cases, the country started to relax covid-related restrictions last month. As a result, it is no longer obligatory to remain socially distant when visiting two holy mosques in Medina and Mecca. Moreover, both mosques were reopened and started to operate at their full capacity for pilgrims again. Worshippers need to remember that masks remain in place though.
Apart from the specific age requirement, every pilgrim must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with one of the coronavirus vaccines approved by Saudi Arabia. A valid vaccination certificate will be necessary to apply for an electronic entry visa.
List of vaccines approved in Saudi Arabia
Pilgrims who fulfill the age requirements must be vaccinated with one of the following approved vaccines:
- Johnson & Johnson (one-dose vaccine)
The Saudi Arabian Ministry introduced a new service issuing permits to foreign pilgrims who wish to visit Masjid al-Haram and the Masjd-e-Nabwi for worshipping purposes. They can book a visit to both mosques via Tawakkalna and Eatmarna apps recently launched in the country.
Firstly, it is necessary to register on the Saudi Quddum platform in order to secure permits on one of the abovementioned apps. Entering the holy mosques is possible only with a permit. The immunity status of visitors will be checked before entering the mosques.
e-Visa to Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia offers electronic tourist visas that cover all types of tourism-related activities, visiting relatives or friends as well as pilgrimage to Mecca (Umrah).
KSA e-Visa is valid for one year from the date of issue and can be used for numerous entries to the kingdom. Its holder can feel free to re-enter Saudi Arabia as many times as needed throughout its validity period. The total stay, however, cannot exceed 90 days.