- Saturday, 15 December 2012 13:53
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Makkah, 01 Safar 1434/ 15 December 2012 (IINA) – The new Umrah season started today, Safar 1, 1434. Over five million pilgrims are expected to come over to the Kingdom from around the world to perform Umrah (the lesser pilgrimage) during the season, which would witness its climax with the holy fasting month of Ramadan.
Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Haj Dr. Bandar Hajjar announced the readiness of his ministry and all Haj-related institutions in the Kingdom to provide the best-possible services to Umrah performers. He said all Umrah applications have been electronically processed at Saudi embassies and consulates abroad. Last year around 5.5 million Umrah pilgrims visited the Kingdom, he said.
Umrah performers this season will find an expanded Grand Mosque, the ground level of which was opened to worshippers this Haj, increasing its capacity to accommodate 300,000 worshippers. A new three-phase expansion of Al-Mataf area was started after Haj. Once completed, the capacity of Al-Mataf area will go up from 45,000 persons performing Tawaf (circumambulation of the Kaaba) in an hour to 130,000 persons an hour. A $27 billion long-term Makkah master development plan is also underway which will allow the holy city to accommodate nearly four million pilgrims at a time in 2040.