Saudi Arabia to issue permits for iftar meals during Ramadan

Kingdom to issue permits to those allowed to deliver iftar meals in Makkah during Ramadan

FILE PHOTO: Muslim pilgrims wearing face masks and keeping social distance perform Tawaf around Kaaba during the annual Haj pilgrimage amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia July 31, 2020. Saudi Press Agency/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY./File Photo
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Saudi authorities announced that they will issue permits to distribute iftar meals in an attempt to return to normal as prayers and Umrah resume at the Grand Mosque in Makkah during Ramadan this year.

Strict measures were imposed in Makkah during the holy month last year because of the coronavirus outbreak, which forced the government to stop meal distribution in the Grand Mosque and residential spaces in the city.

Traditionally restaurants, charitable people and families provide food for Muslims to break their fast in the kingdom. The packages usually comprise a hot meal, dates and a drink.

The announcement was welcomed by volunteers who missed the opportunity to distribute meals in the mosques in Makkah and Madinah last year.

"I am really excited to volunteer this year. Once we know which entities are authorised by the government in Makkah, we can sign up to join their teams," Mohammed Ihsan, a Makkah resident, told The National.

He said it was common for citizens and residents to volunteer to distribute iftar meals in their cities and in the mosques during Ramadan.

Specific conditions are designated for each area of the city to ensure a smooth distribution campaign.

Packed food boxes can be distributed to families, hot meals can be given in neighbourhoods and outlets and dry meals can be distributed inside the Grand Mosque, as well as residential neighbourhoods, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Those who want to be part of the distribution campaign can apply for the permit through an online portal.

Authorities said they would select volunteers based on the number of applicants and plans for distribution.

This month, Saudi Arabia's King Salman approved measures to help Umrah and Hajj pilgrimage operators, providing compensation for companies and people whose work revolves around the pilgrimages and lost income because of the pandemic.

The government launched more than 150 initiatives, allocating more than 180 billion Saudi riyals ($48bn) to the cause since the pandemic, the SPA reported.