Saudi slashes Umrah visa validity by half
Dealing a blow to thousands of Umrah pilgrims from the country, the Royal Consulate General of Saudi Arabia (RCGSA) has slashed the validity of Umrah visa from one month to a mere 15 days during peak season.
In what might come as further disappointment to these pilgrims, is the fact that, the RCGSA has imposed restrictions during the Islamic months of Ramzan, the holy month, in which an estimated 3,000 pilgrims from the state go to Saudi Arabia, through Shaban.
A circular sent by RCGSA to travel agents of the city on Friday pegs the reason for restriction to a massive expansion work of the mataf (area of circumambulation around the Kaba). “Around 1,500 travellers have already booked tickets. This will be a disappointment for them because Ramzan is peak Umrah season and thousands from the state wish to spend their time in prayer in both Mecca and Medina. I expect that sales will take a beating because of this new rule,” Mohammed Shoeb from Link Travels in Dewan Deodhi said.
Another travel agent said that the current ticket fare is Rs 36,000 compared to the previous fare of Rs 26,000. “Many have paid for various 21-day Umrah packages. We will see as to how to accommodate them. Further, the 15-day validity will make many unhappy as accommodation charges in various hotels have always increased during Ramzan and Shaban. So, the value for money also has diminished,” the travel agent said.