`Labaik Allahuma Labaik’: Grand Mosque at full capacity for the first time since COVID

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RIYADH: For the first time since COVID 19, Grand Mosque in Makkah is at full capacity.

Worshipers and Umrah pilgrims returned to the courtyards of the Grand Mosque in Makkah in full capacity last month after Saudi authorities announced the lifting of COVID-19 precautionary measures.

Over 3 million Saudi nationals and 3.4 million non-Saudis performed Umrah in 2021.

Arab News reported that the General Presidency of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque has reactivated its operational plans for full-capacity worship, with its field teams removing social distancing stickers.

Worshipers stood shoulder-to-shoulder in spiritual scenes after the end of social distancing measures for prayers and tawaf.

These preparations by the General Presidency of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque came ahead of the holy month of Ramadan.

There are about 100 Umrah travel operators spread throughout the capital, with a concentration of them in Hai Al-Wizarat and Batha districts.

Rates tend not to vary greatly among Umrah tour operators in Riyadh. Buses leave from Hai Al-Wizarat and Batha districts with stops at the central bus terminal so that authorities can take a tally of the number of pilgrims.

During the journey, coaches stop at three points for Maghreb prayers, Isha prayers, and dinner. Pilgrims change into their ihram at Meeqat in Taif, where they are given half an hour to don their ihrams at the Meeqat point, and they can perform Fajr prayers in the holy city of Makkah.

There are ample mosques, food outlets, and boutiques along the routes from Riyadh to Makkah.

Flights from Riyadh to Jeddah are also filling up. There are comparatively cheaper tickets for odd timings, but they too will total around SR1,000, operators said. 

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