Saudi Arabia to fine Ramadan pilgrims without permits

saudi arabia and ramadan

Sarah Peddie

Saudi Arabia will hand out fines if pilgrims attempt to perform Ramadan Umrah without a permit. 

Pilgrims will be fined over $2,000 (10,000 Saudi riyals) if they are without an official permit according to the Kingdom’s Ministry of Interior.

The Kingdom will grant permits to those wishing to perform Umrah or visit the holy sites during the holy period of Ramadan if they are vaccinated.

Those wishing to get a permit must have had two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine. It also applies to a person who has been vaccinated 14 days after their first dose or a vaccinated person who has recovered from coronavirus

Mecca at Ramadan

The Saudi Press Agency quoted a Ministry of Interior source saying: “It has been decided that whoever found attempting to perform Umrah during the Holy Month of Ramadan without holding an official permit will be subject to a SR10,000 fine and whoever caught attempting to enter into the holy site of Mecca (Al-Haram Al-Makki) to pray without holding a permit will be subject to a SR1,000 fine. 

“This penalty will be implemented until the pandemic is over and public life returns to normal.”

The report added: “The source called on citizens and residents to abide by all the instructions requiring those wishing to perform Umrah or pray in the holy site of Makkah (Al-Haram Al-Makki) to obtain a permit, stressing that security personnel will carry out their duties in all roads, security control check points, sites and corridors leading to the central area surrounding the holy site of Makkah (Al-Haram Al-Makki) to prevent any attempt to violate the regulations in force.”

Expats and Ramadan

Being an expat in majority Muslim countires like these during Ramadan comes with rules that you must abide by. Muslims do not expect expats to practice the principles during Ramadan but there are certain rules put in place that expats must respect and embrace as part of the Islamic culture.

Expats should know that it is a criminal offence to eat, drink or smoke in public between sunrise and sunset. Dressing conservatively during Ramadan is a must and women should cover their arms and legs - as well as toning down their makeup. Muslims are not allowed to listen to music during the festival so keep your music to a quiet level and do not play it out loud. 

During the holy month, day to day life for expats will change. Cafes and restaurants will be closed for the month - however, bars and pubs are open but music is not allowed to be played. Nightclubs are closed. 

Depending on what country you live in, normal working hours will vary but you must know that working hours will change during Ramadan. Shops are open very early in the morning or after 4pm. 

Ramadan in Saudi Arabia

Expats will need to accept that during the holy month, they will need to make some minor changes to how they live their lives. Non-Muslims can also see Ramadan as a time to reflect on themselves and understand all that they have to be fortunate for.

Once fast is broken, there is a celebration at the end of every day. Family and friends get together and enjoy a nice meal. Many Muslims and non-Muslim friends get everyone involved and it is a very welcoming event. 

Remember to embrace the spirit of Ramadan and recognise the importance of the holy month.

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