The South African Hajj and Umrah Council (SAHUC) says it is awaiting clarity on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s latest announcement, that visitors are no longer required to be vaccinated to gain entry into the holy lands. This is according to Assistant Secretary General Muaaz Casoo, who is attending a three-day innovation conference by the Kingdom.
The Saudi Ministry recently stated that all guests will have to confirm their immunization status via the Muqeen website, details and navigation of which forms part of the conference. The site houses visitors’ vaccination status, including details such as which and how many vaccine/s has been administered, or not. These details are then synchronized with the Tawakkalna and Etermana, facilitating the visit.
According to Casoo, several franchised outlets are -still- requesting visitors to provide proof of immunization via the Tawakkalna app.
“Currently, the status quo is that when you arrive in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, you download these apps. The (synchronized) information you completed on Muqeen prior to your departure from your country, (will then allow) you to book for Umrah in Mecca Haram, book a time slot for the Roda in the Medina tul Haram. To enter the haram for salah you don’t need to use the app, it is more just so for Umrah and to go into the Roda,” explained Casoo.
He noted that the latest announcement by the Kingdom requires further clarification.
“Last night we received an announcement from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, that you no longer require to be vaccinated to come into Saudi, neither do you require a PCR test. We’re still unwrapping all this information and hopefully within the next few days we’ll get a clearer indication because some airlines are still requiring people to be immunized before boarding a flight. We’re still seeking clarity on (whether it is) specific for a certain type of Visa, or is it for all Visa requirements,” he elaborated.
The SAHUC spokesperson added that citizens around the globe are eagerly anticipating the quota for Hajj 1443/2022.
“At this point in time, there’s been no indication of the percentage of the Quota that will be given to South Africa, but every body has confirmed that – In Sha Allah – this year, there will be Hajj for all foreign pilgrims. The big question is, how much quota will be given per country, and no announcement has been made by the ministry of Hajj and Umrah.”
“We make dua that that will come soon. There’s no date given (and) there’s a lot of rumors going around but there is no clear indication when that announcement will be made.”
Casoo explained that the council was honoring an invitation by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, by attending an ‘Hajj and Umrah services’ Conference and Exhibition on Transformation Toward Innovation’ between 21-23 March 2022.
Various major organizations and service providers critical during the Hajj and Umrah season are present and will be hosting exhibitions around their latest technological advancements. This includes- but is not limited to -virtual reality and smart edge cards being used by companies such as bus services, catering, hoteliers, mobile providers, etc.
Casoo said that, over the next two days, various workshops will be held between 10 am to 2pm and then again at 5pm to 10pm by ministerial bodies. The sessions will cover the future of hajj and the enhancements that will need to be incorporated for hujaaj going forward.
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