Friday June 14, 2024

Saudi Arabia bans entry of visit visa holders to Makkah during Hajj season

"Visit visa holders do not grant permission to perform Hajj," says ministry

By Web Desk
May 23, 2024
Muslims encircle the Kaaba, Islams most sacred site, during Ramazan in Makkah. — AFP/File
Muslims encircle the Kaaba, Islam's most sacred site, during Ramazan in Makkah. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Interior has imposed a ban on entry of all individuals holding visit visas to the holy city of Makkah during the upcoming Hajj season to ensure the safety and security of the pilgrims.

The Hajj season begins today and it will continue until June 21, 2024.

In a statement, the Saudi ministry said that the visit visa holders do not grant permission to perform Hajj, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

The ministry has advised visit visa holders to avoid travelling to Makkah without Hajj permission during the period and warned of penalties as per Saudi regulations.

Security and organisational measures are being implemented to ensure the safety of authorised pilgrims during the Hajj rituals.

It is pertinent to mention here that Saudi authorities are preparing for potentially record-breaking attendance after a surge in Umrah pilgrims during Ramadan.

Since May 9, Pakistani pilgrims have been arriving in Madinah as part of pre-Hajj flight operations.

According to the Ministry of Religious Affairs, a total of 28,743 Pakistani pilgrims have arrived in Madinah through 120 flights as of Tuesday.

This year, around 2.5 million faithful from across the world, including 179,210 from Pakistan, will perform the religious obligation of Hajj.

This year’s pilgrimage is expected to take place from June 14-19.

Apart from the fresh restrictions, the authorities, in April this year, revealed the expiry date for Umrah visas for foreign pilgrims.

As per the Saudi Gazette, the ministry announced that the expiry date for Umrah visas had been pushed back from Dhul Qadah 29 to Dhul Qadah 15. This meant that foreign Umrah pilgrims must leave the country before Dhul Qadah 15.

This move came as part of the government's attempt to ensure a smooth flow of pilgrims to the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah from all over the world for the annual pilgrimage of Hajj.

The ministry also clarified that the validity of the three-month Umrah visa will begin from the date of issuance, instead of previously approved validity from the date of entry into the kingdom.

According to the ministry, the validity of the Umrah visa was three months from the date of its issuance, provided that it expires no later than Dhul Qadah 15.

"This date of Dhul Qadah 15 was approved, two weeks (14 days) earlier than the previously announced expiry date of Dhul Qadah 29," the ministry had added.

— Additional input from APP