The Jakarta Post
The Religious Affairs Ministry has established new criteria for Indonesians intending to go on umrah (minor haj) as Saudi Arabia is set to open its doors to international pilgrims on Nov. 1.
The ministry's umrah and special haj director, Arfi Hatim, said on Thursday that only pilgrims between 18 and 50 years old were eligible for the pilgrimage in line with Saudi Arabia’s latest policy.
"We are currently finalizing a ministerial decree on organizing umrah during the pandemic, which will stipulate the requirements for pilgrims," Arfi said in a statement.
Saudi Arabia has allowed people residing within the country to go on the pilgrimage since Oct. 4 following a seven-month pause due to coronavirus concerns. The Middle Eastern country will also allow international pilgrims from specific countries deemed safe starting on Nov. 1.
According to the ministry, nearly 60,000 pilgrims had received their umrah registration number, but could not travel due to the temporarily halt on the pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.
Out of the total, only around 26,000 would meet Saudi’s age requirement of 18 to 50 years old, Arfi said. Over 21,000 of them had completely paid their pilgrimage fee and received the registration number when Saudi closed its borders in February.
In addition to the age requirement, pilgrims will also be required to adhere to strict health protocols that would be stipulated in the ministerial decree.
"For those who have registered but do not meet the requirements for departure, please be patient. Do delay your departure until the pandemic ends," Arfi urged.