Going for umrah is out of the question for South Africans including those from Southern Africa– but Saudi authorities are welcoming most other countries.
Ismail Olla of the South African Muslim Travel Operators Association told Al Qalam the travel path for South Africans is completely blocked by Saudi Arabia following the Omnicron warning alert.
“We are banned.We are back on the red list, and there’s nothing we can do,” he said forlornly.
South Africans can only go to Kenya and Tanzania at the moment but with certain restrictions applied.
Meanwile, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah in Saudi Arabia announced that foreign Umrah pilgrims can now stay up to 30 instead of 10 days.
“According to details, foreign pilgrims were allowed to stay up to 30 days in Saudi Arabia. When the temporary ban on Umrah pilgrims was lifted and the service resumed on November 1, foreign pilgrims were allowed a 10-day stay in the kingdom.”
If the pilgrims belong to countries where travelling bans were lifted, they can now directly arrive in Makkah and perform Umrah without the need for institutional quarantines. However, it was decided that if the pilgrims are immunized with two doses of vaccines approved by the World Health Organization (WHO), they will be subjected to a 3-day institutional quarantine.
The ministry stated, “Such pilgrims have to carry out PCR laboratory test after 48 hours of institutional quarantine, and will be allowed to perform Umrah directly if they submit a negative PCR report.”
Under the observance of terms shared by the ministry, all foreign pilgrims aged 18 and above will be given a permit to enter the kingdom and perform Umrah.
It is pertinent to mention here that domestic pilgrims, including those aged 12 and above are allowed to perform Umrah.