Huge demand for Umrah packages expected as Saudi lifts ban

Dhanusha Gokulan (Principal Correspondent)/Dubai Filed on September 8, 2021

Agents and passengers are still waiting for a clear standard procedure from airlines and the Saudi civil aviation authority.

Now that Saudi Arabia has lifted its travel ban on the UAE, as well as Argentina and South Africa, travel agents are expecting a spike in demand, particularly among stranded travellers and those who wish to perform the religious pilgrimage of Umrah.

Though the restrictions were eased from Wednesday, agents and passengers are still waiting for a clear standard procedure from airlines and the Saudi civil aviation authority.

“The majority of the requirement we are currently receiving is for quarantine passengers, Indian residents of Saudi Arabia stranded in the South Asian country. Travellers, especially Indians, are now travelling in large numbers to the UAE to return to the kingdom especially since the travel regulations for those arriving into the Emirates have been relaxed,” said Raheesh Babu, group chief operating officer of online travel agency.

Currently, only Indians who have been fully vaccinated in Saudi Arabia can travel into the country, said Babu. “The number of people who have received both doses of the vaccine from Saudi Arabia is very few. Families who want to return to KSA find it better to undergo quarantine here in the UAE. Hotel accommodation is cheap, airline frequency is good, and there is no need for local quarantine as well,” he explained.

Then, once more details about the protocols are released, there will be a huge demand from pilgrims, Babu added. Business and leisure travel is also expected to be on the rise.

The relaxed restrictions also come as a relief for several families who have been separated for many months. Sabah Shereif, an accountant whose husband lives in Saudi Arabia, said: “I travelled to India with my son in March. We have been stuck here since. Now, I can travel to the UAE and return to my husband.”


Dhanusha Gokulan

Originally from India, Dhanusha Gokulan has been working as a journalist for over ten years. For Khaleej Times, she covers NRI affairs, civil aviation, and immigration issues among other things. She completed her BA in Journalism, Economics and English Literature from Mangalore University in 2008 and is currently pursuing her MA in Leadership and Innovation in Contemporary Media at the American University in Dubai. In her spare time, she dabbles with some singing/songwriting, loves food, and is mom to an over-enthusiastic Labrador retriever. Tweet at her @shootsprintrite.

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