Saudi Arabia announced on Thursday that it had temporarily suspended entry for pilgrims embarking on the Islamic pilgrimage of Umrah and for any visitors to the Prophet's Mosque in Madina due to concerns over the spread of coronavirus.
With millions of Muslims embarking on Umrah to Mecca and Madina in the Kingdom throughout the year every year, the decision will have a large impact on Muslims across the world, but comes amid sharp increase in the number of coronavirus cases across the Middle East.
Here are the facts you need to know:
Saudi Arabia is now prohibiting anyone from entering the Kingdom to perform the pilgrimage of Umrah in Mecca.
The Kingdom is also prohibiting visitors from entering the country to visit the Prophet’s Mosque in Madina.
Anyone entering the Kingdom for other purposes must use their passport and not a national identity card with two exceptions:
1) Saudi nationals who left Saudi Arabia using their national identity cards
2) Citizens from Gulf Cooperation Council countries who want to return home from Saudi Arabia using their identity cards
Saudi Arabia says that the measures are temporary and will be reevaluated continuously.
UAE-based Emirates airlines and travel agents began enforcing the measures to anyone who is not a Saudi national on Thursday lunchtime.
Saudi Arabia has also prohibited travel to the Kingdom on a tourist visa from countries hit by coronavirus. Find out which countries are banned here.