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Saudi Arabia Grants 2.6 mn Visas to Perform Umrah This Year

Umrah is an Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca. Unlike Haj, Umrah can be undertaken any time of the year

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Hajj in Saudi Arabia. Image Source: Wikimedia

Saudi Arabia has granted 2.664 million visas for pilgrims to perform Umrah this year, a 2.79 per cent up over the corresponding period last year, according to official statistics released on Friday.

Up till now, 2.250 million pilgrims have entered the kingdom to perform Umrah, a growth of 3.47 per cent over the same period last year, the Saudi Ministry of Haj and Umrah said.

Saudi Arabia issues 2.6 mn Umrah visas. (Wikimedia Commons)

Up to 1.9 million pilgrims have already performed Umrah to date and left the Kingdom, an increase of 3.05 per cent over the same period.

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Umrah is an Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca. Unlike Haj, Umrah can be undertaken any time of the year. (IANS)

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Tech Giant Google Refuses to Remove Controversial Saudi App

Human rights groups such as Amnesty International have also criticised Google and Apple for allowing the app on their platforms

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A Google logo is displayed at the entrance to the internet based company's offices in Toronto. VOA

Google has refused to pull out a controversial government app from Saudi Arabia which lets men track and control women who travel, saying it does not violate its Play Store policies.

According to a report in the Business Insider on Sunday, the tech giant told the office of California Democrat Representative Jackie Speier, who had called for the removal of the app called “Absher”, that the app does not violate its terms of service.

The US Representatives Speier, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and 11 others have demanded that Apple and Google must both remove the app.

Speier called Google’s response “deeply unsatisfactory”.

“The responses received so far from Apple and Google are deeply unsatisfactory. As of today, the Absher app remains available in both the Apple App store and the Google Play Store even though they can easily remove it,” Speier was quoted as saying.

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Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks at the Google I/O conference in Mountain View, California.

Apple was yet to announce its decision.

Absher allows Saudi users to access government services and also offers features which allow “Saudi men to grant and rescind travel permission for women and to set up SMS alerts for when women use their passports”.

Also Read- NASA’s Newest Mars Lander Starts Digging Into The Red Planet

An earlier report suggested Saudi men could use the app to control female dependents.

Human rights groups such as Amnesty International have also criticised Google and Apple for allowing the app on their platforms. (IANS)