Saudi Gazette – Minister of Haj Bandar Hajjar has said a total of 250,000 of Umrah visas have been issued so far for the current Umrah season, with 30,000 of the pilgrims already reaching the holy cities.
“Last Umrah season we received 6 million pilgrims,” he said, attributing the increase in Umrah traffic to simplified procedures for obtaining Umrah visas.
“What used to take months can now be done within a few hours,” said Hajjar.
He added the Umrah visa is free of charge and pilgrims should be wary of exploiters who might seek to profit from them.
“The ministry and Saudi missions involved in organizing Umrah pilgrimage do not profit from issuing Umrah visas. We have announced in Arabic, English and French that the visa is free of charge. If any of the pilgrims come across any company or individual charging them for Umrah visas, they must report them to the ministry as it is illegal to charge fees for Umrah visas,” said Hajjar.
He also said the ministry has opened a center to train all volunteers and people participating in organizing Umrah and Haj campaigns.
“The comfort and satisfaction of the pilgrims is paramount for us. We aim to provide high quality services for the pilgrims. All directorates in Makkah and Madinah are responsible for serving pilgrims during Umrah and Haj seasons,” said Hajjar.
He said 41 Saudi companies offer Umrah services currently.
“The Umrah services companies have more than 3,000 representatives abroad in 180 countries. All of the services are processed electronically through the ministry’s e-portal. Muslims abroad wishing to apply for Umrah visas can contact any of the Saudi Umrah services companies in their country and fill in an application for the visa,” said Hajjar.