Friday 19th July 2013
Deadline extension lets more perform Umrah
JEDDAH: ARAB NEWS
Friday 19 July 2013
Last Update 19 July 2013 5:34 am
Saudi Arabia has extended the deadline for Umrah visa applications from Ramadan 10 to 15 in order to allow more faithful to perform the lesser pilgrimage during the holy month of Ramadan.
“The Haj Ministry in coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has decided to extend the deadline to Ramadan 15,” said Deputy Haj Minister for Umrah Affairs Eissa Rawas.
He said more than 4.8 million pilgrims have so far come for Umrah this year. “The number of Umrah pilgrims remaining in the Kingdom this year is 380,000, a quarter of a million less than the previous year,” he said.
He said the ongoing mataf expansion project would enable the Kingdom to receive more pilgrims in the coming years as it would increase mataf’s capacity from 48,000 to 130,000 pilgrims per hour.
Rawas estimated the total cost of new development projects in Makkah, Madinah and holy sites at SR128 billion. He said the new Makkah Haram expansion, which is to accommodate 1.2 million more worshippers, would cost SR40 billion.
The ministry earlier extended the deadline from July 8 to 18. Saudi authorities wanted to control the number of pilgrims coming for Umrah this year as a result of ongoing expansion work at the Grand Mosque in order to ensure the safety and security of pilgrims.
The decision to reduce domestic Haj pilgrims by 50 percent and international Haj pilgrims by 20 percent this year is “exceptional and temporary,” the ministry said.
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation has instructed member countries to cooperate with Saudi Arabia by reducing the number of their pilgrims. The OIC commended the Saudi government’s efforts to expand the two holy mosques in Makkah and Madinah to enhance facilities for the guests of God.
Saturday 6 July 2013
Minister of Haj Bandar Hajjar has extended the deadline for Umrah visa applications to Ramadan 10, which corresponds to July 18.
He told Arab News that the purpose of the extension was to allow more visitors to perform Umrah.
“We extended the period for Umrah visa applications, which was supposed to end at the end of Shaban (July 8), because we want to give an opportunity to as many pilgrims as possible to perform Umrah,” he said.
Hajjar said that while his ministry limited the number of people wanting to perform Umrah this year because of the expansion projects, it did not want to prevent Muslims from performing their religious obligations.
The expansion, which the Saudi government is now carrying out, would make it easier for Muslims to perform their duties in future, he said.
Deputy Haj Minister Hatem Qadi said 4.5 million pilgrims performed Umrah since the season started, with only 300,000 remaining in the Kingdom.
Hajjar issued directives two months ago that visas would only be given for two weeks instead of the usual 30 days.
“We’ve limited the number of Umrah visitors this year because of the ongoing expansion projects,” Qadi said.
Abdullah Al-Qadi, vice chairman of the National Committee for Haj and Umrah, welcomed the ministry’s move. He said visitors should understand that a massive expansion is under way.
In an earlier statement, the Haj Ministry said the reduction of domestic Haj pilgrims by 50 percent and international pilgrims by 20 percent was “exceptional and temporary” because of the ongoing expansion projects.
The expansion projects undertaken by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah is the biggest in the history of the holy places, with work being carried out in areas frequented by people 24/7.
The expansion takes into account people with special needs on the first floor by linking it through a system of lifts and ramps.
No Umrah Visa after July 8th
Thursday 27 June 2013
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced July 8 (Shaban 29) as the last date for seeking Umrah visas.
All Saudi diplomatic missions across the world will continue issuing Umrah visas until the “end of Shaban,” said Osama Nugali, a spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, here.
According to the statistics released by the Ministry of Haj, the Kingdom has already issued about four million Umrah visas this year.
“This is a routine procedure that is taken every year by Saudi Arabia,” said a travel agent Arif Kannauji, who has been working for a local Haj and Umrah operator in Riyadh.
“Every year, we are requested not to accept any visa application for Umrah during Ramadan,” he said.
The move, Kannauji said, was to ensure that all those willing to perform Umrah have received their visas well in time, during the month of Shaban itself. It normally takes 7 to 14 days to get a visa.
Umrah season starts in the month of Safar, the second month in the Islamic calendar, until the end of Ramadan.
Until July 1, about 3.8 million Umrah pilgrims entered the Kingdom, which is an increase of 400,000 compared to the same period last year, according to a report issued by the Ministry of Haj recently.
Original 15 day visa rule which was scrapped
7th June 2013 12:21pm
A notice has been sent to All registered Hajj & Umrah Agencies by the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia (London) on Thursday 6th June 2013 informing them as per instructions of the Saudi Authorities, the validity and the duration of stay of Umrah visas will be 15 days only during the months of Sha’ban and Ramadan.
The Ministry of Hajj clearly states the following on it’s website:
An Umrah visa is valid for 30 days only. This does not mean that you can stay in Saudi Arabia for 30 days. Within these 30 days you should perform Umrah, making sure your departure from Saudi Arabia is within two weeks of the date of entry.
The visa for Umrah in Ramadan cannot exceed the last day of Ramadan. You should leave Saudi Arabia by the end of Ramadan and cannot have Eid-ul-Fitr there.
The Council of British Hajjis are concerned that some tour operators who have sold flights and/or accommodation may not be able to deliver. If you feel this to be your situation then follow the advice below:
- Contact the Travel Agent to confirm your flights and/or accommodation is valid
- That the Air flights are within the 15 days visa
- That the Airline will allow you to board without hindrance should your return journey exceed visa period
To get further information or advice,
- Contact Citizens Advice www.consumerdirect.gov.uk Telephone 08454 04 05 06 Textphone 08451 281384
- Contact the CAA who enforce the ATOL scheme
- Check your travel insurance as you maybe covered for your losses
If you feel you have been affected by fraud or deception then report this to Action Fraud
CBHUK is working the authorities and reputable tour operators to assist all concerned.
9th June 2013 – Umrah visa’s validity limited to 2 weeks