Travelers visiting Makkah to observe Umrah during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan will find their visits smoother and safer thanks to the Ministry of Haj and Umrah’s Eatmarna app.
Eatmarna, which translates as ‘let’s perform Umrah’ was originally developed to manage visits during the pandemic while social distancing regulations were in place. The success of the app in ensuring equal access to all worshippers and providing a smooth, seamless experience has led the Ministry of Haj and Umrah to continue its use after the lifting of restrictions.
“Eatmarna uses modern technology to ensure that spiritual practices that have endured for centuries are today smoother and safer than ever before, helping people enjoy their religious observances with complete peace of mind at this blessed time of year,” said His Excellency Tawfig Al-Rabiah, Minister of Haj and Umrah.
“We understand how difficult it has been for Muslims from around the world to perform Umrah during the pandemic and are delighted to be able to welcome back the 25 percent of the world’s population who adhere to the Muslim faith and for whom a pilgrimage to the Holy Mosque in Makkah is a lifetime dream.”
The app, which is freely available for Android, Apple and Huawei smartphones, provides a convenient way for Muslims to book their Umrah ritual and ensures that everyone can enjoy Umrah smoothly and safely. The app also allows visitors to book a slot for prayer in the Al-Rawdha Al-Sharifa in the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina.
Visitors to Saudi can register with their passport details and visa number and quickly book a date and time for their ritual. After showing the confirmed time slot to officials, pilgrims are free to carry out their religious observances.
Earlier this month Saudi announced the removal of all COVID-related travel restrictions. Travelers no longer need to provide PCR tests or proof of vaccination to enter the country and institutional quarantine requirements have been removed.
Saudi has also reintroduced visa-on-arrival for holders of valid US, UK and Schengen visas, making it easier for travelers to visit the country for Umrah.
With vaccination rates approaching 99 percent of the adult population of Saudi – and with COVID insurance included in all visit visas – pilgrims can be assured that both their physical and physical health are protected.
A central part of praying is standing shoulder to shoulder among worshippers. This physical connection with members of the faith from around the world is even echoed in the call to prayer, when the imam calls upon worshippers to close ranks and join as one.
The social distancing restrictions in place during the pandemic meant that this could no longer be done safely, and so the instruction was dropped from the call. The lifting of social distancing regulations means that pilgrims will once again be able to pray together as they have for hundreds of years.
“Prayers are once again conducted safely across all mosques, including the Holy Mosque,” said Abdullah Abdulshakour, an imam in Al Nour Mosque in Makkah. “I feel honored to be calling for prayers, knowing the comfort it brings to people, especially those coming to Makkah to feel connected with their fellow Muslims.”
“Ramadan is one of the most favored times of year for pilgrims to perform Umrah and Muslims are looking forward to being able to enjoy the experience as they did before the pandemic,” said Minister Al-Rabiah.
“This Ramadan, the traditional call to prayer will ring out once more and pilgrims can once again stand shoulder to shoulder, as one global community in peace and harmony before God.”