by BERNAMA / pic by TMR FILE
MARANG – Malaysians are expected to be allowed to visit Saudi Arabia, including to perform the umrah pilgrimage this year, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Seri Dr Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri.
However he said this would depend on the current COVID-19 situation and vaccination rate in Malaysia as well as the situation and permission from Saudi Arabia.
“InsyaAllah, I am confident it will be possible in another month or two, but we will have to wait and see how the COVID-19 situation will be and if the Saudi government will grant us permission.
“For now we hope the spread of the virus can be contained as best possible while vaccination will be ramped up,” he told reporters after visiting Maahad Darul Quran Rusila, here today.
He said the approval would also depend on the standard operating procedures (SOPs) established by the Health Ministry and the National Security Council, as well as the SOPs finalised by the Saudi government.
Saudi Arabia has reopened its doors to tourists from 49 countries including Malaysia since August 1, by simplifying procedures in obtaining an entry visa for a period of one year and allowing a stay of up to 90 days in the kingdom.
Meanwhile, Zulkifli said the government has prepared several cemeteries, among them at Bukit Jalil in Kuala Lumpur with the increase in fatalities due to COVID-19 adding that a task force has also been set up to ensure the remains of COVID-19 victims are buried as soon as possible.
“We will work to ensure that the funeral process will take less than 24 hours and from what I observe at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital recently, it could be done in five or six hours,” he said.