Ramadan 2023: Demand for Umrah from the UAE surges by three times

Travel agents say spring break coinciding with the holy month has been a key driver for the increase in numbers

by

Nandini Sircar

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AFP file
AFP file

Published: Tue 21 Mar 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Tue 21 Mar 2023, 4:48 PM

The UAE is witnessing a three-time surge in traffic for Umrah, as compared to the same period last year.

This comes as Umrah operators in the country opine that they record a massive surge in the pilgrimage ahead of the holy month of Ramadan.


According to travel agents, spring break coinciding with Ramadan has been a key driver for the increase in numbers.

Bait al Ateeq Haj services based in Makkah, which has a subsidiary office in Sharjah, is an agency that facilitates Umrah and the Haj services for residents in the country.


CEO of the company, Shebin Rasheed said: “We have recorded a massive rise in the number of residents travelling to the holy city of Makkah for Umrah. We are witnessing at least three times more pilgrims from the UAE as compared to last year. The traffic is more this year as school holidays overlap with Ramadan. Usually, families wish to take their children along to perform Umrah.”

Big improvement in application processes

Rasheed added: “Pre-bookings in bulk had happened by Umrah agencies earlier. Emirates Airlines, flydubai, Air Arabia and even Saudi based flynas along with several other airlines have come up with competitive rates. The upward swing in numbers is also evident due to the lifting of Covid restrictions by Saudi Arabia for pilgrims. In fact, we’ve also noticed a big improvement in application processes this year that has eased procedures.”

Meanwhile, Sheikh Dr Abdulrahman bin Abdulaziz Al-Sudais who is one of the top imams in Saudi Arabia, announced that the Two Holy Mosques are ready to receive millions of visitors and pilgrims during the holy month of Ramadan.

Al-Sudais stated that all sites and services of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque have been fully prepared for Umrah performers, worshippers, and visitors.

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TP Sudheesh, general manager of Deira Travels, said: “Demand in queries from people looking to undertake Umrah has been much more as compared to supply. There has visibly been a huge demand. You seldom have school holidays overlapping with Ramadan. Like many other travel plans whether it’s vacation or staycation, there has been a rise in religious tourism as well.”

He added: “The packages being offered by Umrah operators are lucrative but due to the heavy demand, the prices of these packages are increasing every week. Many wish to travel during the first or the last week of Ramadan. So, the demand is outnumbering the supply in terms of flight tickets, transport services or accommodation availability.

“Due to these upcoming holidays, we are noticing an overall growing trend of 25 per cent from residents who wish to undertake vacations this year as compared to same period last year,” said Sudheesh.

20-25% increase in travel

Reena Philip, general manager, Air Travels Enterprise said: “There has been an upward tick in people going for Umrah this year. Although we do not directly deal with this, but market trends seem to suggest the same. As Covid-19 has receded, there has been an upsurge in interest among potential travellers. Our colleagues in the India office have also indicated that the traffic has increased at their end.

“They are also allowing Umrah passengers to arrive and depart through any international airport in the KSA. Another incentive is that the school holidays… The spring break this year falls within the first two weeks of Ramadan,” she added.

“Apart from that generally there has been an increase in numbers for people looking to travel this year. People have also been enquiring about countries like Georgia, Armenia and Sri Lanka. People don’t want the hassle of visa, so they are increasingly opting for countries where e-visa is available for shorter trips. Apart from that people are also travelling to their home countries in South Asia during this Ramadan. Overall, we see a hike of almost 20-25 per cent as compared to last year.”

Mother of three to perform her first Umrah

UAE resident Bushra Shamim’s happiness has no bounds as she is planning to perform the first Umrah of her life.

Bushra said: “I am looking forward to performing my first Umrah with my entire family. It is a very big thing for us as Muslims and for me personally as I had never thought I’d get a chance to go for Umrah during Ramadan. Performing Umrah was one of my biggest dreams and I can’t wait for this. All these years my children were young. But now they are 15, 13 and 7 and it is possible to travel with them, especially as the school holidays will begin. Besides, Covid-19 has also practically gone. I am so happy doing my first Umrah with my husband and kids.”

Some plan to spend Ramadan travelling

Malaysian expat in the UAE Adilatul Abdulla has alternative plans this Ramadan.

She said: “I will be travelling with my daughter and a friend this Ramadan to Bosnia. That place has beautiful mosques. Many of the 16th-century buildings remain today. I want to see those. It’s a five-day trip. The weather is very nice there around this time. It’s neither too hot nor too cold. I am really excited. It’s perfect timing for us in every way.”

Azerbaijan national Maryam Shirinova is amongst the ones planning to remain in the country. She, along with her five children, husband and mother-in-law who is flying into the UAE this Ramadan, wishes to spend most of the time with family in prayers.

“We like to have a quiet Ramadan. Read the Holy Quran everyday as a family, recharge ourselves, eat less instead of eating more, we’ll watch religious programmes together and go out locally to Global Village or any of the other attractions within the UAE,” said Maryam.

nandini@khaleejtimes.com



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