The number of Umrah pilgrims from outside Saudi Arabia has increased significantly. This increase comes more than a month after the start of the new Umrah season. One of the factors is the visa facility provided by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
“A significant increase in the number of Umrah pilgrims this season has been observed from all countries. However, the highest percentage came from Pakistan, India and India, Iraq, Yemen and Bangladesh,” added Saudi Deputy Minister of Hajj and Umrah, Abdulfatah Mashat, reported by Gulf News,
He said, in the future, there would be a further increase in the number of Umrah pilgrims coming from all over the world. This is due to the facilities offered for obtaining visas, communication with service providers and the increase in the number of Umrah service companies operating in the country.
Apart from that, it is also due to the expansion of the capacity of the two holiest sites for Muslims, namely the Grand Mosque in Mecca and the Nabawi Mosque in Medina. The Umrah season begins at the start of the Islamic Hijri year after the end of the annual haj attended by some 1.8 million Muslims for the first time in three years after pandemic-related restrictions were lifted.
In recent months, Saudi Arabia has introduced a number of facilities for overseas Muslims to come to the country to perform Umrah. Muslims holding various types of entry visas such as personal visa, visit and tourist visa are allowed to perform Umrah and visit Al Rawda Al Sharifa, where the tomb of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) is located in the Prophet’s Mosque after booking an electronic appointment.
The Saudi government has also extended the validity period of Umrah visas from 30 days to 90 days and allowed Umrah visa holders to enter the kingdom by all land, air and sea routes and depart from any airport. Female pilgrims are no longer required to be accompanied by a male guardian.
The kingdom also said that expatriates living in Gulf Cooperation Council countries have the right to apply for tourist visas, regardless of profession, and can perform Umrah.
Last month, Saudi Arabia added eight more countries to its e-visit system, allowing their nationals to come to the kingdom for Umrah and tourism, bringing the total number of countries whose citizens have access to this entry service to 57.
Schengen, US and UK visa holders can also book Umrah appointments and visit Al Rawda Al Sharifa, through the Nusuk app before arriving in Saudi Arabia.
Source : Republika