Saudi Arabia is one of the top countries to visit for Muslims around the world. Every year, millions of Muslims fly here to fulfill the fifth pillar of Islam, the hajj pilgrimage. However, 2020 held a hajj season with only 10.000 pilgrims, the smallest number ever recorded in history.
With the current situation, it'll take some time until Muslims everywhere get to perform the hajj and umrah pilgrimage. Find out the latest updates on the country's terms and conditions below.
The first case of Covid-19 in the kingdom was confirmed by the Minister of Health on 2 March 2020. By the end of the month March 2020, the total number of confirmed cases had risen to more than 1.400. It took less than 3 months until the Covid-19 cases in Saudi Arabia surpassed 100.000 on 7 June 2020.
However, the kingdom took huge action by announcing the suspension of all domestic and international travel on 21 March 2020. Curfews and lockdowns were also implemented on several administrative levels to reduce the people's mobilization. The numbers of daily confirmed cases decreased dramatically, and the domestic travel ban was lifted by 21 May 2020.
By the second week of July, the daily recoveries outnumbered new cases in the kingdom. After being closed for 7 months with a very limited number of hajj pilgrims in mid-July, the holy mosque or Masjid Al-Haram was finally reopened on 19 October 2020.
Saudi Arabia recorded 413.174 Covid-19 cases to date with 6.913 deaths and an average of 1.000 new cases this past week.
The first 100.000 Saudi Arabian received their first dose on 6 January 2021. By 26 April, more than 8,4 million doses of vaccine were distributed all across the kingdom. Saudi Arabia distributed AstraZeneca and Pfizer to its people, assuring that all of the vaccines were licensed and approved by the Saudi Food and Drug Administration (SFDA), Ministry of Health, and international authorities such as the US FDA, WHO, and European Medicine Agency (EMA).
Like any other country, Saudi Arabia prioritizes categories at risk of complications (people above 65 years old, people with obesity, immunodeficiency) and professional categories (security and military sectors, health practitioners) in the first phase.
Meanwhile, the second phase targeted professionals in vital jobs, essential workers in public and private sectors, other health practitioners, and people with asthma, diabetes, kidney disease, and other diseases with complication risk.
Finally, the rest of Saudi Arabia residents will be vaccinated in the third phase.
Can I travel to Saudi Arabia now?
Saudi Arabia has suspended all international flights to the kingdom for tourists as well as residents (with exceptional cases). However, this limitation is regularly reviewed by the Ministry of Interior.
Even though the two holy mosques are opened for pilgrims, only Saudi Arabia residents and residing expatriates are allowed to perform umrah. The registration for umrah e-visa must be done through Eatmarna and Tawakalna mobile application. This app can be accessed by the umrah agency from the country that is permitted to enter Saudi Arabia.
Every pilgrim that enters the kingdom must have been vaccinated with the vaccine certified by WHO, which are Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Moderna. Only those aged 18-60 years old are allowed to perform umrah, while the age limit has extended to 70 years old for Saudi Arabian.
Do I need quarantine?
All guests arriving in Saudi Arabia will undergo self-quarantine as the following:
- All guests arriving from countries (Argentina, United Arab Emirates, Germany, United States of America, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Pakistan, Brazil, Portugal, United Kingdom, Turkey, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, France, Lebanon, Egypt, India, Japan) shall be quarantined in their homes for a period of (14) days.
- All guests arriving from countries in which cases of the strain of the new Corona Virus (B.1,1,7) were registered shall be quarantined in their homes for a period of (7) days.
- All guests who are arriving from the rest of other countries, the (7) days mandatory home quarantine shall be applied for (3) days at least with a mandatory laboratory PCR exam.
All guests also must download and register on Tatamman and Tawakkalna mobile app.
Tourist attractions in Saudi Arabia\
Known for the holy mosques, Masjidil Haram in Mecca and Nabawi Mosque in Medina, Saudi Arabia is the number one dream destination for Muslims. However, there are a lot more than the holy sites. Here are some of the must-visit destinations in Saudi Arabia:
- The ruins of Al Ula, featuring golden rock formations, citrus farms, and the remains of ancient kingdoms. One of the most famous ruins is Mada'in Saleh, a cluster of 2.00 years old Nabatean tombs.
- The Red Sea, featuring turquoise water and beautiful coral reefs around the coast.
- Riyadh, the kingdom capital with bustling traditional markets and historic sites. The locals spend their time hiking at the "Edge of The World", the plateau that can be reached with a two hours drive from the capital.
- Jabal Nour in Hejaz, a rocky mountain near the holy mosque in Mecca. Not only for a hike, but you can also see Hira Cave, the place where the first ayah of Al Quran descended to Prophet Muhammad.
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