Makkah: Recently, Saudi Arabia authorities have temporarily suspended entry for people planning to visit the Kingdom for ‘Umrah’ (Pilgrimage) or for visiting the Prophet’s mosque in Medina over fears of the deadly coronavirus, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
The Ministry said that this precautionary step comes in completion of the efforts taken to provide the utmost protection to the safety of citizens and residents and everyone who intends to come to the Kingdom to perform Umrah or visit the Prophet’s Mosque or for the purpose of tourism.
Deputy Minister of Haj and Umrah for Umrah Affairs disclosed that when the decision was announced, 469000 Umrah pilgrims and visitors to the Prophet’s Mosque were present in the Kingdom. Out of total pilgrims, 106000 have already left the country.
While addressing a press conference, Ambassador Tamim Al-Dosari, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Consular Affairs made it clear that the Kingdom has banned Umrah visas whereas, visit visas are suspended for citizens of some countries. All other types of visas are available, he added.
It may be mentioned that Saudi Arabia has also announced the temporary suspension of the entry of Gulf nationals to the holy sites of Makkah and Medina.
Ban on GCC nationals
On Friday, the Ministry said in a statement that the temporary ban does not cover Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nationals who have been in the Kingdom for 14 consecutive days without showing signs of coronavirus infection and wish to perform Umrah or visit the Prophet’s Mosque, reports Xinhua news agency.
Such GCC nationals can apply through the website of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah to obtain a permit.
Source: With inputs from IANS