Saudi Arabia eyes 10m pilgrims in new Umrah season

Sunday, July 9, 2023

Cairo: Saudi Arabia is gearing up to receive as many as 10 million overseas Muslims to perform Umrah or minor pilgrimage in its new season, a TV report said.

Al Arabiya TV quoted unidentified sources as saying that the kingdom is preparing for a huge Umrah season and aims to receive 10 million pilgrims from abroad to undertake Umrah rites at the Grand Mosque in Mecca starting from Al Muharram, the first month in the Islamic lunar calendar due to begin later this month.

Around 300 companies providing Umrah services have applied and obtained related licences, the report added.

Last week, the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said it had begun issuing electronic visas for the new season of Umrah after the end of the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

The ministry said applications for obtaining the Umrah visa are presented via the Nusuk platform

The visa holders will start arriving in the kingdom to perform Umrah from the first of Al Muharram.

The Nusuk platform facilitates procedures including accommodation for Muslims from around the world planning to perform Umrah.

Millions of Muslims, who cannot afford the annual Hajj rituals physically or financially, flock to Saudi Arabia to undertake Umrah.

In recent months, the kingdom has unveiled a host of facilities for overseas Muslims to come to the country to do Umrah.

Muslims holding different types of entry visas such as the personal, visit and tourist visas are allowed to undertake Umrah and visit Al Rawda Al Sharifa, where the tomb of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) is located at the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina after booking an e-appointment.

Saudi authorities have extended the Umrah visa from 30 days to 90 and allowed holders to enter the kingdom via all land, air and sea outlets and leave from any airport.

The kingdom has also announced that expatriates residing in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries are eligible to apply for a tourist visa, regardless of their profession, and be able to perform Umrah.

Likewise, holders of the Schengen, US and UK visas can book appointments for Umrah and visiting Al Rawda Al Sharifa, via the Nusuk app before arrival in Saudi Arabia.