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Thu 6 Sep 2018 04:19 PM

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Millions of pilgrims expected in Makkah next week as Umrah begins

Umrah season - the minor pilgrimage which is undertaken by Muslims outside of the official Hajj - will begin next Tuesday

Millions of pilgrims expected in Makkah next week as Umrah begins
Muslim pilgrims perform the walk around the Kaaba Tawaf at the Grand Mosque in the Saudi holy city of Makkah. (MUSTAFA OZER/AFP/Getty Images)

The 2018-2019 Umrah season is due to begin next week with Muslim pilgrims descending on the Saudi holy city of Makkah.

Dr Abdulfattah Suliman Mashat, Vice Minister of Hajj and Umrah, said the new Umrah season - the minor pilgrimage which is undertaken by Muslims outside of the official Hajj pilgrimage - will begin next Tuesday.

The previous Umrah season, which started in late October 2017 and ended in early July, drew more than seven million pilgrims, according to the Ministry. 

It follows the 2018 Hajj pilgrimage when more than 2.37 million pilgrims travelled to Makkah to perform the pilgrimage, including more than 1.75 million from outside the Gulf kingdom.

Mashat said the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah it will work with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the issuance of visas to Umrah pilgrims.

This year's Umrah makes an earlier start than previous years as part of Saudi Vision 2030 which aims to increase the country's capacity to welcome Umrah visitors from 8 million to 30 million every year.

Mashat said 15 million pilgrims are expected to perform Umrah annually by 2022. The number will rise to about 30 million by the year 2030.

The Saudi government has been making improvements and enhancing the management and systems for both Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages as numbers increase.

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