The Saudi Arabian Government has lifted the travel restrictions it earlier placed on Nigeria and other countries from attending the 2021 Hajj due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Intending pilgrims for the lesser Hajj, also known as Umrah, are expected to present their requests ahead of the period, according to the new directive.
The Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported that the deputy hajj minister, Abdulfattah bin Sulaiman Mashat, in a statement, said foreign pilgrims must be immunised with a Saudi-recognised vaccine — Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — and agree to undergo quarantine if necessary.
The government added that issuance of permits to all intending pilgrims would be through the mobile applications the “Eatmarna” and “Tawakkalna” launched to prevent the spread of coronavirus across the country.
The Tawakkalna is a COVID-19 application designed by the government for contact tracing while Eatmarna app was launched to allow pilgrims apply for visit permits to the two Holy Mosques during the religious rites in the country.
According to the government, Umrah requests from Nigeria and other countries would be entertained beginning from Monday, August 9, 2021, for pilgrims to perform the Islamic rituals in the holy mosques.
Mashat also hinted that the government aimed to reach 60,000 pilgrims distributed over eight operational periods, in order to bring the capacity to two million pilgrims monthly.