Saudi Arabia Halts Umrah Visa Services

Saudi Arabia has reportedly suspended the visa program for Umrah (minor Hajj) pilgrimage.

Saudi sources quoted the kingdom’s Ministry of Hajj and Umra as announcing on Tuesday that it has halted visa services for the Umrah pilgrims.

The Saudi ministry has not mentioned any reason for the new decision.

The Umrah is a pilgrimage to Mecca performed by Muslims. Unlike the Hajj, which is also known as the “major Hajj pilgrimage”, it can be undertaken at any time of the year.

In 2016, more than 1.8 million pilgrims attended Hajj, but Iranians stayed at home after tensions between Riyadh and Tehran boiled over following a deadly crush of people during the 2015 pilgrimage.

On September 2, 2015, thousands of people lost their lives in the deadly crush after Saudi authorities blocked a road in Mina during a ritual, forcing large crowds of pilgrims to collide.

The crush marked the deadliest incident in the history of the pilgrimage.

Saudi Arabia claims nearly 770 people were killed, but officials at Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization say about 4,700 people, including over 460 Iranian pilgrims, lost their lives.

   
   

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