The Ministry of Haj will put in place new measures for issuing Umrah visas for pilgrims from outside the country with the coordination of the Saudi embassies abroad, a local newspaper reported. The new measures will be implemented soon, given the expected growth in the applications for Umrah visas this season. Indeed, the number of Umrah visas granted for worshippers during the past eight months of last year through Saudi Embassies was 5.5 million. The Ministry of Haj announced the new measures and controls for issuing Haj visas on its website recently.
The controls concerning airline companies include the requirement that the airline is officially adopted by a formal body in its respective country and works in accordance with the regulations for providing services for Umrah pilgrims. Also, the airline must be a member of IATA, must be in coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and should have paid the bank guarantee for the Saudi company.
The ministry confirmed it will not authorize the issuing of vouchers for any electronic payments made by a suspended company, whether on the grounds of administrative procedures or for violating the regulations. It also stressed the importance of complying with all the controls concerning the provision of services for pilgrims, noting in this regard that the period granted to perform Umrah rituals is within the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
A number of supervisors of Umrah and Haj service providers said that strict, new procedures will be imposed on pilgrims who overstay their visas in the Kingdom after performing the holy rituals, noting that the offices that provide Umrah and Haj services will bear full responsibility for cases of seizing wanted individuals or any criminal cases in this regard.
The Ministry said that punishments for such oversights might involve the closure of the associated office in the event of its failure to comply with the regulations, in coordination with the Ministry of Interior.
Abdul Moneim Ayman, a supervisor of the Umrah and Haj service providers, said that the instructions issued by the Haj and interior ministries stressed the importance that pilgrims carry all of their regulatory residence documents. He also noted that internal Umrah operations have put in place strict instructions that cannot be countered.
“There are penalties such as fines and closures that await offices that violate the regulations. Further, the supervisors of Umrah and Haj trips must have been approved by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs,” said Ayman.[Source: Arab News]