Abdul Fattah Mashat, Saudi Arabia’s deputy minister for hajj and umrah, has reported a noticeable increase in the number of Umrah pilgrims traveling from abroad.
The surge, which coincides with an increase in the capacity of Saudi Arabia’s two holiest mosques, is linked to a number of factors, with easier visa requirements taking the lead.
This increase came after a month and a half of foreign pilgrims and tourists thronging to the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina since the start of the Umrah season.
This season, there are more pilgrims than usual from a variety of nations, with the majority coming from Pakistan, Indonesia, India, Iraq, Yemen, and Bangladesh.
It is anticipated that the number of Umrah pilgrims would keep rising, particularly in light of the Saudi government’s attempts to make it easier for them to travel from all over the world.
This includes the assistance offered by the “Nasik” platform for communicating with service providers and obtaining visas.
In addition, more businesses that specialize in hospitality and pilgrimage services have emerged, competing to provide top-notch services.
“The new regulations have made it possible for visitors from outside the Kingdom to perform Umrah under various types of visas, including family, personal, tourist, transit, and visa-on-arrival. Additionally, the validity of Umrah visas has been extended to 90 days, and the requirement for a male guardian for women has been removed,” Mashat said.
Mashat noted that the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has set up 24/7 facilities to accept grievances and reports from pilgrims in all languages regarding service providers.
According to Mashat, officials maintain a clear set of regulations outlining infractions and associated punishments. There is also continual monitoring and evaluation of pilgrimage services.