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Saudi Kingdom launches mobile app to regulate Umrah pilgrims amidst covid-19 pandemic

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The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has developed a mobile application that will be available a week before the umrah resumes so that pilgrims can register and book on it. They will also need to follow the health guidelines provided in the app.

The app will ensure the implementation of coronavirus regulations. The purpose of launching the app under the name of Itemarna is to provide immediate entry permits for those wishing to go to Makkah and Madinah for Umrah.

“The app is fairly new, we haven’t seen all the mechanisms that are included as yet, but we do know is that it will first apply to locals in terms of the logistics,” stated SA Muslim Travel Operators Association Chairperson Sedick Steenkamp.

Issuance of visa implementation of health standards during the coronavirus outbreak and facilitation of transportation accommodation facilities for Umrah pilgrims the app will provide high-quality services to Hajj and Umrah pilgrims.

“When you arrive in the kingdom and within the borders you will then be required to book a certain time for your intended umrah. It won’t happen as it usually did in the past and obviously these are all measures put in place to avoid the further spread of the coronavirus,” explained Steenkamp.

The proposed app will be able to open via iPhone and Android mobile. Through this app, all the data related to the health of Hajj and Umrah pilgrims will become part of the app system. Steenkamp explained the app will detail all novel regulations.

“The Umrah is set to take place between 6am and 12am, so that means for 6 hours nobody will be allowed to perform Umrah and this too is part of the ‘new-normal’ that we will experience in the haram to ensure the safety of pilgrims,” detailed Steenkamp.

The app launched by the Saudi government will provide high-quality services to Hajj and Umrah pilgrims ensuring that pilgrims and Umrah pilgrims do not have difficulty reaching their residential campuses.

“After the health ministry assess the risks with internationals that is when the app will be rolled out to other countries across the globe,” said Steenkamp

Through this app, foreign visitors will be able to deal directly with umrah companies and without the role of booking agents, this will free up umrah companies and improve their performance with the help of which they will travel to Saudi Arabia and will be able to bring their services to the market in and outside Saudi Arabia.

However, Steenkamp believes only a small amount of people will be confident enough to go about their travelling business on their own.

“We will obviously have to sit down and discuss how the app will affect the traveler and the travel operator but we are certain that in south Africa and specifically Cape Town the mu’tamireen will prefer to have the security of a travel operator as well as the added spirituality that comes from performing rituals in a group formation,” detailed Steenkamp.

“All we know is at this stage is there’s going to be an app that will regulate pilgrims but when it comes to visas, and quotas we haven’t heard anything as of yet,” added Steenkamp.

To download the app click on the following link: https://apps.apple.com/sa/app.

VOC


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