S Arabia says new app I’tamarna to facilitate pilgrims

RIYADH, Sept 27 (INP): The government of Saudi Arabia has announced that its new app, I’tamarna, will facilitate pilgrims and increase competition among marketing companies to enhance the Umrah experience for pilgrims.

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah’s chief planning and strategy officer, Dr Amr Al-Maddah, told media in Riyadh that “high-quality services” will be provided to people.

He said that the relationship between Umrah companies and their external agents will now, thanks to the app, be only limited to marketing. Pilgrims will be able to download the app on September 28.

“The newly adopted measures will free Umrah companies and motivate them, especially at a time when bookings are being performed through several electronic platforms,” said Al-Maddah. It would allow foreign pilgrims to “directly deal” with Umrah companies through the phone, the app and additional means other than the external agents, he added.

Al-Maddah said that the app was launched due to the coronavirus so that safety protocols can be enforced and the number of pilgrims is limited to prevent overcrowding.

Saudi Arabia will restart the Umrah service for pilgrims in four phases. In the first phase, 30% of the pilgrims will be allowed to perform the pilgrimage, which roughly makes it 6,000 pilgrims per day. This is slated to begin from October 4.

The second phase will see the capacity of the Grand Mosque increase to 75%, which means an estimated 15,000 pilgrims and 40,000 worshippers a day can be included from October 18.

The Kingdom will then permit foreign pilgrims to perform Umrah from November 1 in the third phase, allowing a capacity of 20,000 pilgrims and 60,000 worshippers per day.

The fourth stage will see the Grand Mosque allow the usual amount of pilgrims. However, this will take place when all COVID-19 risks have gone away.