Umrah fee does not affect inflow of pilgrims

Umrah fee does not affect inflow of pilgrims

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There is no visible drop in the number of Umrah pilgrims despite a decision by the Saudi government to impose a SR2,000 fee on all repeat performers of the pilgrimage.
There is no visible drop in the number of Umrah pilgrims despite a decision by the Saudi government to impose a SR2,000 fee on all repeat performers of the pilgrimage.

By P.K. Abdul Ghafour

MAKKAH — It seems the government’s recent decision to impose SR2,000 fee on pilgrims who perform Haj or Umrah more than once has not affected the inflow of visitors to the Two Holy Mosques at the start of this year’s Umrah season.

However, many pilgrims and Umrah operators requested the authorities to review the decision.

“It’s a big blow to Umrah operators,” said an agent of an Umrah service company from Kerala, which has sent thousands of pilgrims this season.

“We find it difficult to get pilgrims due to the new fee, which has increased the cost of an Umrah trip by Rs36,000,” said the agent.

He hoped that the Kingdom would withdraw the fee for the benefit of Umrah operators as well as Saudi businesses.

An elderly South African pilgrim, who introduced himself as Mohammed, said Saudi Arabia has every right to impose fee on pilgrims. However, he said the fee should be brought down to SR500.

“I have decided to come for Umrah every year irrespective of the cost it would incur. This is my 32nd Umrah,” Mohammed said while watching pilgrims circumambulate the Holy Kaaba.

“I manage to get the money required for visiting Makkah every year by the Grace of Allah.”

Zainul Abideen, a young Malaysian pilgrim who came for Umrah with his wife, was not happy with the fee, saying it would make Umrah unaffordable. “Many foreign pilgrims having low income like me wish to visit this holy place to pray to Allah and get His blessings,” he told Saudi Gazette.

He also agreed that Saudi Arabia has the right to impose fees for the services it offers.

“Even if it charges SR300 from every pilgrim it can make a good amount of money as more than seven million foreign pilgrims come for Umrah every year,” he pointed out.

Abideen has spent 14,000 ringgit (about SR11,700) for the Umrah trip of himself and his wife. “We came on a Saudia flight, which was full of pilgrims. This is our first Umrah and we are extremely delighted for getting an opportunity to make this wonderful spiritual journey,” he told Saudi Gazette sitting in the Grand Mosque.

Bangladeshi businessman Mohammed Shahidul Islam also expressed his hope that the Saudi government would lift the fee in order to encourage more faithful to visit Makkah and Madinah.

Asked about the response of Bangladeshi Muslims toward the Umrah fee, he said: “They are hopeful that Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman would revoke it for the benefit of all Muslims who dream to visit the holy places in Saudi Arabia.”

Saudi Gazette also met a group of young Indonesian pilgrims at the Grand Mosque, some of them have paid SR2,000 Umrah fee. They believe the fee would decrease the number of Indonesians going for Umrah.

“We hope King Salman would revoke the Umrah fee in response to the prayers and pleas of Muslims all over the world,” said Akbar, a member of the group.

12 COMMENTS

  1. I heard that Saudi government has taken its decision back to impose visa fees and umrah visitors are not charged by any fees.

  2. Asalaamu Alaiykum Mr. P.K. Abdul Ghafour

    There appears to be some confusion regarding the new visa fees.

    You may not be aware that the Saudi government has very recently amended the rules again so that pilgrims can perform Umrah once a year without paying the 2000SR fee.

    Initially, it was meant to be a strict policy of ‘once in a lifetime’ but due to intense pressure from the ummah around the world, this time limitation was decreased to just 12 months.

    So, if one was intending to perform Umrah twice a year, they would only be required to pay the fee on the second visit. After 12 months, a pilgrim is free to travel again without incurring any fee.

    Best Regards

    Shazad Mahmood
    UK

    • Mr. Shazad Mahmood

      With all due respect, there no is no such such law implemented neither it is in consideration of saudi government. Very first umrah or Hajj is free “no visa fee/charge”, but for every second visit for umrah or hajj will cost Sr.2000 per pilgrim.

      Please go through the Saudi Govt. Website for legitimate news regarding rules & regulation.

      Regards
      Syed Muzzaffer Ahmed

      Assir region
      Saudia Arabia

      • Thank you Syed for saying what I keep telling people. So unfortunate that we are so easily willing to believe and spread misinformation. It takes only a few minutes to verify!

      • The umrah visa fee was for second time in e years. It has been changed to second time in a year. There was never such a law for life time.
        Mr shehzad is correct.

  3. Surprised that the kerala based company asks for review of decision by the government for sake of business and not for the spiritual purposes. They don’t see the benefits associated to pilgrims with reduced or no fee

  4. This visa fee has been in operation for the last 16 years or so, unofficially though, as the Embassy
    in London was not making it official, but charging money anyway. the charges were from £120 to £200
    per person by the agents, yet SA embassy use to stamp the visa free..

  5. here in south africa the embassy says the visa is free but the administration costs are like $110 per traveller irrespective of age .

    if u don’t pay the administration costs u won’t get a visa.

  6. Mr shehzad is right on 3rd dec Saudi govt changed umrah visa fees .1st umrah free in one year those who want to visit again in the same year…you have to pay 2000 riyal extra.

  7. Asalaam u Alaiykum brother Syed

    There is no intention in my original post to spread any misinformation to the Ummah and I stand by the comments I have made.

    As I said earlier, this subject of visa fees has become highly confusing and I am sorry to say but it is the responsibility of the Saudi government to clarify.

    Here in the UK, it is now widely accepted that ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ now means ‘once a year!’

    All Umrah visa agents have made this absolutely clear and as a matter of fact, my family are currently in Makkah having last visited in December 2015. They have not been required to pay the SR2000 and will only do so if they travel again within the next twelve months.

    I was therefore shocked to read this article from the Saudi Gazette which actually adds to the confusion.

    Perhaps, I can suggest that the author of this article contact the necessary officials and confirm?

    On a final note, I would like to add that I am not aware if Hajj visa rules have also been amended but for Umrah they most certainly have. Or is that just for those residing in the UK?

    Come on Saudi authorities, please end this confusion.

    Jazakallah Khair

    Best Regards

    Shazad Mahmood

  8. According to a recent statement issued by the Saudi Ministry of Haj and Umrah, the new fee has come into effect from Muharram 1438H and that there is no plan to cancel it. The government will bear the fee of first-time performers of Haj and Umrah. The first entry of Haj and Umrah will be free. But for second and subsequent entries pilgrims will be charged SR2,000.
    Algeria’s Al-Nahar TV announced that the fee has been canceled but the ministry denied that news. The Saudi commerce minister, meanwhile, hinted at the possibility of reducing visit and Umrah visa fees on the basis of bilateral agreements signed with other countries and equal treatment principles.
    The Saudi Cabinet decided to impose the fee on August 9, 2016 and said: The new one-time entry visa fee will be SR2,000 and the state will bear this fee for pilgrims who come to perform Haj and Umrah for the first time, according to the official Saudi Press Agency. The Cabinet said the decision would not violate existing bilateral agreements.

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