After a long break seven (07) months, Saudi Authorities decided on this Sunday to partially lift up the ban on Umrah for the local residents and citizens.
The first group of pilgrims performed Umrah on Sunday, 4th Oct 2020. It is expected that Muslims from around the world will be able to perform Umrah from the 1st of November 2020.
Saudi Arabia entertained nearly 19 million pilgrims of Umrah last year from around the world.
A resident of Makkah, who had been driving an Uber car after losing his job on a construction site due to a nation-wide lockdown in March 2020, asserted his feelings by saying that we are extremely happy today due to the uplifting of the ban to perform Umrah.
He also said that it felt like the end of gloomy days and it was no less than a nightmare for Muslims and this period should never come back again.
Above 1,300 hotels and restaurants in Makkah and Madinah were in service of pilgrims of Umrah and Hajj, that underwent a complete lockdown since March 2020.
Many of them have closed down for not being able to bear the running costs under the lockdown period.
Last midnight, hundreds of pilgrims entered the Mosque in order to perform in the shape of smaller groups. The authorities made sure all of them were wearing face masks and are at distance from each other.
They were not allowed to touch the wall of the Kaaba. The capacity of pilgrims has been reduced to 30% or around 6,000 per day.
The crew in Kaaba Sharif has also been instructed to keep an air filter cleaning several times a day as a precautionary measure to safeguard everyone.
The first time in history, Saudi Arabia hosted a very reduced no. of Hajj Pilgrims this year with thousands of pilgrims from the holy country instead of millions of Muslims that used to come from around the world.
The country has faced a huge loss of income from not entertaining the pilgrims from around the world due to the impact of Covid-19.
The revenue from pilgrimage exceeds nearly $12 Billion from different activities, as the records say. The business activities include transportation, food and fee, lodging, gifts, and hoteling business.
This year, the state is heavily facing a reduction in its income from this segment.
A diversification plan of Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, to expand the pilgrimage visitors to 15 million in 2020 and later to around 30 million in 2030, was diluted by the impact of Covid-19 early this year.
Sky-high Hotels and restaurants had been instructed to empty and shopping malls were closed down before the decision of lifting the ban on Umrah came into force.
Due to the impact of Covid-19, hundreds of shops, restaurants, and other businesses have come to an end. The economy of the world’s leading oil-exporting country has dramatically shackled during the last 07 months.
The authorities expect the economic situation to improve in days to come.
The financial analysts and economists have fairly estimated a 60 percent loss of income-driven from the only pilgrimage which is among the highest revenue-generating activity. The loss can even expand if the lockdown situation continues further.
Thousands of working people lost their jobs, who particularly worked at three to five-star hotels in Makkah and Madinah, under the lockdown period. People are still striving hard to earn a living to manage their shelter and kitchen.
A resident from KSA said that they wish the deadly virus gets closer to the end every new day. He still believes that it is harder to call now a new normal.
In order to get more knowledge about current affairs of Pakistan read other blog posts on our website.