Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah airport prepares to welcome foreign Umrah pilgrims
Tamara Abueish, Al Arabiya EnglishFriday 23 October 2020
A traveler walks with his luggage as part of the first group of arrivals for the annual Hajj pilgrimage, at the Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport. (File photo: AFP)
Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah is preparing its Hajj and Umrah Terminal for foreign Umrah pilgrims after entry was restricted for almost eight months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The airport has put in place several precautionary measures to ensure that pilgrims arriving in the Kingdom are safe, the Jeddah-based Okaz newspaper reported.
Entrances and exits will be separated at the airport to prevent crowding, and social distancing measures will be enforced, according to the newspaper.
A passenger sits beside posters displaying social distancing restrictions as he waits for his flight at the King Abdulaziz International Airport. (File photo: AP)
Pilgrims outside Saudi Arabia will be allowed to travel to the Kingdom to perform Umrah starting from November 1.
The travelers will be allowed to pray in the Two Holy Mosques and visit the Rawdah in the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina – the chambers where the Prophet Muhammad was buried.
However, the number of pilgrims allowed to perform the ritual will be limited to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease.
Gradually easing restrictions
The Kingdom will gradually begin easing restrictions at a later time if the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah determines that it is safe to do so.
The gradual resumption of Umrah comes as part of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to contain the coronavirus outbreak during pilgrimage, which sees hundreds of thousands of visitors each day.
Up to 250,000 pilgrims have been allowed to perform Umrah under the second phase of the gradual resumption of Umrah services plan currently in place.
Each small group of pilgrims has only given three hours to complete the ritual, and no one is allowed to approach the Kaaba and the Black Stone.
The Grand Mosque is also sterilized 10 times every day and Zamzam water is being distributed in packaged bottles.
Medical teams are stationed in several areas around the courtyard and an isolation and medical check-up room has been designated in case of a suspected coronavirus case.