Lesser Hajj -Umrah 2021: Since 1st Muharram 1443A.H. (August 10, 2021), Saudi Arabia began receiving Umrah pilgrimage requests from abroad for vaccinated pilgrims starting after about a year and a half of not receiving overseas worshippers due to the COVID-19 pandemic following a successful Hajj season without any virus victim, may Allah be praised.
With initial capacity of 60,000 pilgrims per month, this may rise to 2 million pilgrims in subsequent months as Mecca and Medina will start welcoming visitors from abroad to their mosques while maintaining COVID-19 precautionary measures.
However, the direct entry of foreigners for Umrah from nine countries facing travel bans remains in force. These countries are India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Egypt, Turkey, Argentina, Brazil, South Africa and Lebanon.
The ban doesn’t necessarily prohibit foreign pilgrims from said countries from entering Saudi Arabia provided that they are willing and able to spend 14 days in a third country following their departure. Foreign pilgrims outside the aforementioned countries may travel directly to Saudi Arabia to fulfill their religious calling including Nigeria.
Lesser Hajj- Umrah 2021 guidelines and vaccine requirement
Only pilgrims who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or who have recovered from coronavirus will be allowed to enter the Masjid al Haram in Mecca and the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina, according to the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah. Umrah visas will only be given to properly immunized persons in the event of international pilgrims.
In addition, officials need prospective pilgrims to be in good health and to follow rules aimed at guaranteeing the safety of pilgrims from other countries.
The vaccination status of an individual must first be recorded on the Saudi Arabian COVID-19 app, Tawakkalna, and the Umrah app Eatmarna. The only official portals permitted to provide legitimate licenses are the Tawakkalna and Eatmarna apps, and officials have urged the public to avoid dodgy websites and filling out fraudulent applications.
Approved COVID-19 Vaccine
Foreign pilgrims must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with complete doses of either listed vaccines as follows:
- Johnson and Johnson (J&J)
Complete doses of China’s vaccines with a booster shot of either Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or J&J.
Also age 18 and above will be allowed.
Regulation for foreign Umrah candidates
The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has put forth certain regulations and recommendations to be followed by international pilgrims who are authorized to visit the country and conduct the Umrah this year:
- Pilgrims must spend at least six hours in a Makkah care center before conducting Umrah. This will allow the authorities to verify their inoculation status based on the types of vaccinations that have been licensed.
- Pilgrims will then be given their bracelets, which they must wear. They will then be escorted to the Al-Shubaikha collecting facility, where they will be required to produce their wristbands in order for their data and permissions to be properly checked.
- All pilgrims must adhere to the Umrah date and time frame that has been assigned to them.