The hajj pilgrimage, which once drew some 2.5 million Muslims from all walks of life from across the globe, is now almost unrecognisable. It is being scaled back for the second year in a row due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Gulf state has decided 'to suspend umrah temporarily for citizens and residents in the kingdom', the ministry said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.
Umrah attracts tens of thousands of devout Muslims from all over the globe each month.
Mecca's finest hotels are lavishly appointed with shimmering marble, fine wood panelling and vast chandeliers, serving super-wealthy pilgrims from around the world.
The 450-km Haramain Railway connecting Mecca and Medina with the Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah is one of the largest transport projects in the Middle East.