Alert for Umrah pilgrims: Saudi authorities highlight banned items

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Saudi Ministry of Hajj issues warning to Umrah pilgrims regarding prohibited items.

SAUDI ARABIA, March 27: Saudi authorities have issued a warning to Muslims planning to embark on the Umrah pilgrimage within the kingdom, urging them to refrain from carrying specific items during their journey.

The Ministry of Hajj in Saudi Arabia has identified fireworks among the prohibited items for Umrah pilgrims. In addition to fireworks, the ministry has listed laser devices, fake currencies, and unregistered medicines as substances that are not allowed.

Addressing the pilgrims as “Guests of God,” the ministry emphasized the importance of ensuring compliance with the banned items list before arriving at the entry points in the kingdom.

The advisory comes as the Umrah season at the Grand Mosque in Makkah, Islam’s holiest site, reaches its peak during Ramadan. Umrah, which can be performed throughout the year, consists of two main rituals: Tawaf, the circumambulation of the Holy Kaaba, and Sa’i, walking between the hills of Safa and Marwa.

To manage overcrowding, Saudi Arabia has prohibited the repetition of Umrah during Ramadan. The Ministry of Hajj stated that no permits will be issued for multiple Umrahs during Ramadan, urging worshippers to undertake only one lesser pilgrimage to alleviate congestion and facilitate crowd management.

In preparation for the influx of pilgrims during Ramadan, Saudi authorities have implemented various measures to ensure a smooth and comfortable experience for worshippers. These measures include allocating specific areas around the Holy Kaaba and the ground floor for Umrah pilgrims, as well as designating certain gates of the Grand Mosque for pilgrims’ entry and exit to prevent overcrowding.

Last year, the number of Umrah pilgrims reached a record 13.5 million, according to Saudi Minister of Hajj and Umrah Tawfiq Al Rabiah.

In recent months, Saudi Arabia has introduced several facilities for overseas Muslims to perform Umrah. Muslims holding various entry visas, including personal, visit, and tourism visas, are permitted to undertake Umrah and visit Al Rawda Al Sharifa, the tomb of Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him), located at the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina, after booking an e-appointment.

Furthermore, the kingdom has extended the Umrah visa validity from 30 days to 90 days, and women pilgrims are no longer required to be escorted by male guardians.

Saudi authorities have also announced that expatriates residing in Gulf Cooperation Council countries can apply for a tourist visa and perform Umrah, regardless of their profession.

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