Saudi Arabia to allow women over 45 to perform Umrah without a male guardian

The kingdom has eased rules for women to make pilgrimages to Islam's holy sites

A handout picture provided by Saudi Ministry of Media on July 30, 2020 shows Mulism pilgrims praying on Mount Arafat, also known as Jabal al-Rahma (Mount of Mercy), southeast of the holy city of Mecca, during the climax of the Hajj pilgrimage amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Muslim pilgrims converged today on Saudi Arabia's Mount Arafat for the climax of this year's hajj, the smallest in modern times and a sharp contrast to the massive crowds of previous years. - === RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / HO / SAUDI MINISTRY OF MEDIA" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS ===
 / AFP / Saudi Ministry of Media / - / === RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / HO / SAUDI MINISTRY OF MEDIA" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS ===
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Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has announced that women over the age of 45 will be allowed to perform Umrah without being accompanied by a male guardian, known as a mahram.

The announcement on Tuesday was the first time the kingdom has opened up to Muslim women around the world who want to perform Umrah at the Grand Mosque in Makkah.

"So far women were only allowed to come in groups of women to perform Umrah or Hajj, or with a mahram," a travel agent in Jeddah said.

"The rules of the kingdom are now changing as it is opening up and this is going to make a lot of Muslim women happy because it is easing the rules and pressure on them coming here."

The change will also save money for many families, said Donna Mohammed, an Indonesian citizen who lives in Saudi Arabia.

"Usually they would have to bring a son, or brother if they are widowed or if their husbands can't travel," she said.

"That's women paying out of their pockets just so a male member of the family can accompany them – doubling costs of travel and spending money because you're paying for the mahram too.

"I think this is great for older women especially who don't necessarily have the means or availability of mahram."

In a similar move, last year's Hajj was made easier for women. Saudi authorities announced that women would be allowed to conduct the pilgrimage without a male relative.

In June last year, the country announced that Saudi women "can now live on their own without requiring the consent" of a mahram, after a new legal amendment by the kingdom.

Saudi Arabia has eased restrictions and opened up its borders to unvaccinated pilgrims to perform Umrah and pray in the two holy mosques, if they are not infected with Covid-19 and have now been in contact with a person who has the disease.

Pilgrims can now book their Umrah slots on the Eatmarna app before travelling to the kingdom.

Updated: March 30, 2022, 3:33 PM
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