Muslim pilgrims pray during the symbolic stoning of the devil ritual during the Hajj pilgrimage in Mina, near Saudi Arabia s holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Tuesday, July 20, 2021. AP
On 28 November, the Saudi Ministry of Haj and Umrah said that all pilgrims arriving on Umrah visas from non-restricted countries that have been jabbed by the four Saudi-approved vaccines – Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca – can immediately perform Umrah with no need to quarantine.
However, pilgrims that have been fully vaccinated by other vaccines that have not been approved by the kingdom will have to be subjected to a three-day quarantine followed by a PCR test 48 hours after concluding their isolation.
On 25 November, the Saudi Ministry of Interior announced that travellers from Egypt would be allowed to directly enter the kingdom starting 1 December, removing the country from its restricted list.
Last February, the kingdom imposed a ban on direct flights from several countries due to a global surge in coronavirus cases.
The countries on the list had initially included Egypt, the UAE, Lebanon, Turkey, the US, the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Ireland, Portugal, Switzerland, Sweden, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Japan.
Millions of Muslims from around the world travel every year to Saudi Arabia to perform the small pilgrimage, starting the beginning of the year and peaks in the fasting month of Ramadan, which is set to begin in mid-April.
In early August, Saudi Arabia started gradually receiving requests for Umrah and Haj visas from various countries after an 18-month-long suspension due to restrictions on entering the kingdom prompted by the pandemic.