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KUWAIT CITY, Jan 19: The Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs announced that residents of Kuwait will be able to obtain Umrah visas electronically by registering their biometric data, reports Al-Qabas daily. In a press statement, the ministry explained that Saudi Arabia has decided to allow the residents of the State of Kuwait who wish to perform Umrah to do the following –
1. Register their biometric data, including fingerprint registration for those pilgrims who come from five countries, to complete the procedures for issuing Umrah visas electronically before their arrival in Makkah and Madina.
2. The fingerprint registration is currently applicable to all pilgrims coming from the United Kingdom, Tunisia, the State of Kuwait, Malaysia, and Bangladesh. Interested pilgrims will have to use the Saudi Visa Bio app that allows visa application, register fingerprints, and register biometric data in order to attend the significant Muslim pilgrimage sites.
3. The biometric registration includes face, eyes, and fingers of the hands, and submission of passport through the app.
4. Registration of the biometric data on the app is done through four steps – automatic reading of passport, determining the type of visa, taking a photo of the face, and taking fingerprints.
The launch of the new app is based on a commitment made by the Saudi government late last year to allow enrollment of biometrics through mobile devices so that pilgrims to Makkah can avoid visiting visa centers in person.
This makes the country one of the first in the world to accept biometrics via mobile phone for visa issuance. In February 2022, Saudi Arabia also released an electronic passport with a chip that stores the user’s biometrics for authentication purposes.