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Thursday September 29, 2022

Major change in Saudi Umrah policy

Citizens of 49 countries will now be allowed to perform Umrah with tourist visas including those with US, UK and Schengen visas

By Web Desk
August 13, 2022
A handout image by the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah shows pilgrims circumambulating the Kaaba in Masjid al-Ḥaram in Makkah. — AFP/File
A handout image by the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah shows pilgrims circumambulating the Kaaba in Masjid al-Ḥaram in Makkah. — AFP/File

Saudia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah recently permitted all its visa holders, including those in possession of tourist and commercial visas, to perform Umrah while in Saudi Arabia.

Through this change in policy, the Saudi government aims to ease bureaucracy and open pilgrimage to more people. Citizens of 49 countries will now be able to avail this facility, which also includes Pakistan.

The ministry further informed that applicants can now obtain their e-visas through the Visit Saudi Arabia online portal or instantly on-arrival at Saudi airports.

The ministry further shared that even those who possess the US, UK and Schengen visas also qualify to perform Umrah, a local news portal Saudi Gazette reported.

Through the system, people can obtain tourist visa upon arrival — at any of the Saudi airports — which will be valid for 12 months without submitting prior application, allowing visitors to tour cities and regions across the Kingdom.

Additionally, those from different nationalities who are on family visit visa are also eligible to perform the pilgrimage by booking an appointment via the Eatmarna application through their relatives already living in the Kingdom. They can do so by using the National Unified Visa Platform to apply for their visa.

Since the beginning of COVID-19, Saudi authorities have loosened restrictions within the Grand Mosque and have also removed barriers around the Kaaba, following which pilgrims were allowed to touch the Hajar al-Aswad.