Mecca: Saudi Arabia Devotes Mataf Yard for Umrah Pilgrims


Rabat – Saudi Arabia’s General President for the Affairs of the Grand Mosque of Mecca and the Prophet’s Mosque, Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, announced on Wednesday the allocation of the Grand Mosque’s mataf (circumambulation) yard for Umrah pilgrims starting next Sunday.

The decision comes to facilitate the pilgrims’ performance of rituals to the fullest, according to the official Saudi Press Agency, noting that this move is part of its gradual Umrah facilitation.

Al Sudais stressed that the presidency of the mosques took all necessary measures to ensure the safety and the comfort of pilgrims, and offer them the “best and finest services.”

The presidency also discussed the executive plan to receive Umrah pilgrims and organize their gathering places, which they developed in collaboration with Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah.

Saudi Arabia announced in February its decision to ban the Umrah pilgrimage temporarily amid mounting fears over the COVID-19 outbreak. The kingdom decided to ban visitors from the holy mosque on March 5.

Morocco’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs commended Saudia Arabia’s temporary ban on Umrah pilgrims entering the country, calling it a “judicious and responsible” decision in light of the COVID-19 threat.

On June 22, Saudia Arabia announced it would organize a “very limited” Hajj allowing only people who live in the country to perform the religious ritual. In 2019, the Hajj season attracted nearly 2.5 million pilgrims from across the world.

The decision affected 34,000 Moroccan pilgrimage candidates who had already made payments to take part in the 2020 Hajj season.

Morocco’s Royal Committee for Hajj announced its decision to reimburse the Moroccan candidates one day after Saudi Arabia revealed its limited Hajj procedure.

The Hajj and the year-round Umrah pilgrimage are a critical source of foreign currency for Saudi Arabia. The country’s revenue from the pilgrimage nears $12 billion annually, according to Reuters.

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