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Saudi Arabia reopens holy sites for Umrah pilgrimage

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has reopened Muslim shrines for the Umrah pilgrimage from today, Anadolu reported, citing state-run Saudi Press (SPA).

“The Grand Mosque is ready to receive pilgrims and parishioners for Umrah,” as of Sunday, July 25, SPA quoted the deputy head of the Grand Mosque, Saad bin Muhammad al-Muhaimid, as saying.

He said the pilgrims will be received with the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of visitors to the Grand Mosque.

Muslim pilgrims on Friday completed the annual Hajj pilgrimage, an act of worship that Muslims must perform at least once in their lives if they have the means to do so in order to fulfill one of the five pillars of Islam.

This year’s Hajj was larger than a stripped-down version of 2020 amid the Covid-19 pandemic, but significantly less compared to normal times.

Last year, the Saudi Arabian authorities limited the Hajj pilgrimage to 10,000 Muslims due to the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Umrah is a small voluntary pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca, which Muslims can make at any time of the year. Umrah was put on hold last February over fears of a coronavirus outbreak.

In October 2020, the Saudi Arabian authorities reopened the Muslim holy sites for Umrah pilgrimage after a six-month hiatus.

Due to the pandemic, Umrah was restricted to the Saudis and foreign residents of the kingdom, who were allowed to perform the ritual at the Grand Mosque at 30 percent capacity, or 6,000 people a day. –Burnama

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