First flights of Ramadan Umrah pilgrims arrive in Jeddah

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Facilities in place to ensure smooth entry for arrivals

Foreign pilgrims planning Umrah arrive at the King Abdulaziz airport in Jeddah.

The first flights carrying foreign Muslim pilgrims have arrived in the Saudi city of Jeddah ahead of performing Umrah or minor pilgrimage in Mecca during the current Islamic month of Ramadan.

Passport personnel manning the King Abdulaziz airport in Jeddah finalised the arrivals’ entry procedures smoothly, the Saudi news agency SPA reported without specifying the numbers of the passengers.

Ramadan usually marks the peak season of Umrah at the Grand Mosque in Mecca.

In the lead-up to the lunar month that started in Saudi Arabia on Monday, the Saudi General Directorate of Passports said it is ready to receive foreign Umrah pilgrims arriving at different entry points across the kingdom with well-qualified staff and equipment including dual translation devices and mobile counters.

Authorities have urged visitors to abide by regulations since arrival until departure.

After performing Umrah in Mecca, many pilgrims would head to the city of Medina to offer prayers at the Prophet’s Mosque, Islam’s second holiest site and visit other Islamic landmarks in the city.

Saudi Arabia has in recent months introduced a slew of facilities for Muslims wishing to come to the country to undertake Umrah. Visa holders are allowed to enter the kingdom via all land, air and sea outlets.

Saudi citizens can apply to invite their friends abroad to visit the kingdom and undertake Umrah. Women pilgrims are no longer required to be escorted by male guardians.

The kingdom has also said that expatriates residing in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries are eligible to apply for a tourist visa, regardless of their profession, and be able to perform Umrah.

Source: Arab News

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