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Tips For Umrah During COVID

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COVID-19 has changed our lives forever and one of the main impacts it has also had on Muslims is our ability to perform Hajj and Umrah as we please. International borders have opened up and governments such as Australia and Saudi Arabia have eased restrictions. This is great news as it now allows travel to Saudi Arabia and entry to perform Umrah. For many of us, this is the first place we want to travel to.

The purpose of this article is to both hopefully inspire you to go and perform Umrah and enlighten you with all the practical and logistical steps that need to be taken in order to do so. Please note that if you have never performed Hajj or Umrah, then it is highly recommended that you go with a reputable group and spiritual guide for your first visit! Please ensure you choose your group carefully as the spiritual guide on your first trip will make all the difference and ensure that you perform all the rites of Umrah correctly.

Currently children under the age of 12 are not permitted to visit the holy mosques in Makkah or Madinah and therefore are unable to perform Umrah.

Children between the ages of 12-18 are permitted provided they meet the vaccination requirements for the respective visa and entry requirements into Saudi Arabia.

Step 1: Obtain a valid visa

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In order to enter into Saudi Arabia you must have a valid visa for entry. There are now 2 types of visas available: a Tourist Visa or an Umrah Visa. Both of these visas allow you to enter Saudi Arabia and perform Umrah. Read more about the differences between a Tourist Visa and Umrah Visa.

Watch video instructions on how to apply for a tourist visa.

Step 2: Book Your Flights and Accommodation

Given current uncertainty that exists due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is recommended that you book accommodation that has a flexible cancellation or full refund option. Try and choose an airline that will refund your money as opposed to issuing travel vouchers where possible.

If you are travelling with a group, the flights and accommodation will obviously be taken care of for you.

Step 3: Registering on Muqeem

Once you have obtained your visa you will need to register your Covid-19 vaccination details into the Saudi government portal.

Register your vaccine status before departing for Saudi Arabia and after obtaining your tourism visa. The site is available in Arabic and English.

Please note that this cannot be done until 7 days before your intended date of arrival.

Watch a video on how to complete this registration:

A sample arrival registration certificate after successful registration on Muqeem.

Step 4: Vaccination Certificate

You will need to download your international vaccination certificate. In Australia, this can be done directly from the Medicare app, you will need to ensure that your Medicare account is linked to your Mygov account.

Sample international vaccination certificate

Step 5: Negative PCR COVID-19 Test Certificate

You will need to ensure that you obtain a negative travel PCR COVID-19 test 72 hours before departure to Saudi Arabia. A SMS is not acceptable; it must be a written document and will cost you approximately $150. In the United States, many insurance companies cover this test. You should take the printed version of the test result with you to the airport.

Please note that you will also need to get a negative PCR COVID-19 test in Saudi Arabia up to 72 hours before departing to return to your home country. The hotel can generally arrange this for you and it will cost around 300 riyals. The results take up to 24 hours. There are also places in Makkah and Madinah, for example Al Borg Diagnostics, that can do the test for you. If you need a more rapid test, then you are able to get tested at Jeddah airport and obtain the result in 40 minutes. There is a premium for this service though and it currently costs 500 riyals.

Rapid PCR tests are available at Jeddah airport with results in less than 40 minutes and are located between Gates C and D.

Step 6: Download Applications

HajjAp

Umrah information

• Hajjap is an end to end guide on how to perform Umrah. The app includes a list of all the duas needed to perform Umrah, as well as audio versions of the duas to help you say them correctly. It also has historical information on the sites to be visited during the journey
DOWNLOAD FOR ANDROID 
DOWNLOAD FOR APPLE 

HajjAp Reviews

Mandatory requirement for COVID contact tracing, Umrah Permit, Prayer permits in Makkah and Rawdah / Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) grave in Madinah

• Tawakkalna (please note you will not be able to sign up or register until you actually land in Saudi Arabia, it will not work outside the country)

This application is mandatory and must be downloaded on each visitors smartphone. It will contain your confirmed vaccination status which will need to be shown to be allowed into all hotels, restaurants, transportation and the Haramain. It will also contain your permits once you have booked them on Etamarna (see below).
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DOWNLOAD FOR APPLE 

Watch a video on how to register on Tawkkalna:

Watch a video on how to use Tawkkalna:

• Etamarna (please note you will not be able to sign up or register until you actually land in Saudi Arabia, it will not work outside the country)

This app is used to book your permits for Umrah, prayer, Rawdah etc and can also be used to book transportation if required. However, please refer to Step 7 for recommended travel between Makkah and Madinah.
DOWNLOAD FOR ANDROID 
DOWNLOAD FOR APPLE 

Watch a video on how to register on Etamarna:

Watch a video on how to use Etamarna to book your Umrah and prayer permits:

Other useful apps:


• Haramain Recordings (to listen to translations of Juma Khutbahs, see imam schedule for leading prayers and prayer times, watch Haram tv channels live)
DOWNLOAD FOR ANDROID
DOWNLOAD FOPR APPLE 

Step 7: Transportation options between Madinah & Makkah

It is highly recommended that you book the Haramain High Speed Rail Train to travel between Madinah and Makkah. It is the quickest, comfortable and best value option. You will need to arrange transportation from your hotel in Madinah to the train station as well as transportation from the train station in Makkah to your hotel in Makkah. Taxis are readily available. The cost is approximately 40-70 riyals from Madinah to the train station. From Makkah train station to the Haram hotels, the cost is between 20-50 riyals.

If you are travelling with a group it is most likely they will take care of all your transportation requirements so you won’t need to book the train. When choosing a group, ask if they are going by train or bus as that will make a difference to your experience!

Duration:
• 15-20 minutes travel time from Madinah hotel to Madinah train station.
• Arrive at Madinah train station 30-45 minutes before departure.
• 2 hours 19 minutes travel on train from Madinah to Makkah via Jeddah or 2 hours 6 mins non–stop from Madinah to Makkah.
• 15-20 minutes travel time from Makkah train station to hotel.

Total time estimated: 3-4 hours (Bus trips take between 7-8 hours normally and taxi trips take between 4-5 hours)

Cost: 170 riyals economy, 290 riyals business class (taxis will cost 400-500 riyals).

Weight: According to the ticket you are allowed 1 x 25 kg luggage piece and 1 carry on bag.

Meeqat: Intention to perform Umrah can be said whilst moving on the train this is usually within a minute after leaving the train station, or alternatively can be said from leaving your hotel in Madinah or by visiting the Meeqat at Dhull Hulaiyfah and saying intention before proceeding to train station.

Website: https://sar.hhr.sa/web/booking/home#undefined

Watch an instructional video on how to book the train:
http://bit.ly/Haramainrail

The train between Makkah and Madinah is a must!

New Jeddah Airport and Zam Zam

Finally Jeddah has an airport that won’t leave you having nightmares after your Umrah trip. The Hajj Terminal was often the final straw that would break the camel’s back!

Currently, Zam Zam is not available at Jeddah airport and due to operational issues, they are not letting anyone on any airline take Zam Zam with them! This can be a shock if you do not know before hand.

If you are leaving from any airport other than Jeddah, you are able to take Zam Zam with you. You can readily purchase Zam Zam now from most supermarkets including Bin Dawood. Note they do not come in boxes suitable for air travel at the supermarket like they normally do at the airport. In Makkah, you can visit the Zam Zam factory in Kudai,  just 3km from the Haram.

 

I pray that these steps will help ensure you have a hassle free Umrah, in sha Allah. Please note that the information is based on my recent trip. If you become aware of any information that has changed or been updated or have any questions, please don’t hesitate to leave comments below.

I also ask that if any of this information aids you that you share it with others, that you make dua for the author, their family and friends who helped put this together.

May Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) allow you to perform Umrah Mabroor soon and keep us in your dua.

Ameen.

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Shan is an Entrepreneur with a passion for Adult Vocational Education. He is committed to working to empower the Muslim community and loves to travel. He is an Australian Hajj and Umrah guide for Sunnah Foundation and has been assisting pilgrims for over a decade.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Hosam

    January 24, 2022 at 10:52 PM

    JazakAllah Khair. I wanted to add if anyone has issues with the Tawakkalna app not working correctly or listing them as quarantine status despite being vaccinated or recovered (and it is too late to correct it themselves because they already arrived in Saudi). If you are in Medina you can go to the 3rd floor of the Al Fath Health Center, 7084 Khalid Ibn Al Walid Rd, Al Anabis, Medina 42312. If this doesn’t suffice then you can also go to
    Raidah Digital City, 7th Floor,
    Prince Turki Ibn Abdulaziz Al Awwal Rd, Prince Turki Bin Abdulaziz، in Riyadh.

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