Saudi e-visa: Umrah demand in UAE soars; trips start at Dh600

Umrah is a pilgrimage that can be performed at any time of the year

by

SM Ayaz Zakir

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Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

Published: Fri 10 Nov 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Mon 13 Nov 2023, 3:14 PM

The introduction of e-visas and affordable packages for Umrah has prompted many residents to undertake the pilgrimage a few times a year.

Umrah operators believe that this has led to increased travel between the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

“The e-visa has prompted us to design cost-effective packages, catering to the growing demand for spiritual journeys,” said Shihab Parwad, Rehan Al Jazeera Tourism.

These budget-friendly packages start at just Dh600 per person and are not only economical but also convenient, as they are designed for travel by bus. DoJoin App is offering this 10-day package with travel by bus and is for residents who already possess the 1-year Umrah e-visa.

Umrah is a pilgrimage that can be performed at any time of the year. It involves rituals, including the 'tawaf' around the Kaaba, 'sai'i' between the hills of Safa and Marwah, and prayers at holy mosques. At the end of Umrah, men exit from Ihram by shaving their heads, which is called 'taqseer.'

Due to the increased demand of Umrah pilgrimages, operators have furnished packages for individuals, families, couples, and colleagues. The packages offered are either inclusive of Umrah Visa, 1-year Umrah e-visa, or without a visa (who already has a visa). Packages by bus, starting at Dh600 going all the way up to Dh1,700. “The cost of the package depends on the luxury of the accommodation and food,” said Parwad.

Package starts at Dh 2,000 by flight

Parwad said that the cost of a package by flight starts at Dh2,000, depending on the flight tickets. “At times, we are able to secure cheap airfare from Abu Dhabi. In this way, the package cost decreases to a great extent. However, the current cost starts at Dh3,000,” said Parwad.

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Luxury packages

These operators have streamlined the pilgrimage process, making it achievable for those with the desire to undertake the sacred journey. Experts said that many residents prefer luxury packages starting at Dh3,900.

“We have tailored a few luxury packages for residents with or without Umrah visas. The travel is from Dubai or Sharjah, 4 and 5-star accommodation with close proximity to Ka’aba,” said Qaiser Mehmood, Manager, Asaa Tourism.

Experts have also urged residents to book the correct flight and accommodation at least 15 days prior to the trip and make an appointment for Tawaf.

“A few airlines do not allow travellers in possession of a tourist visa and a 1-year-multiple Umrah visa is a must to fly on these flights,” said Mehmood.

Mehmood noted that many pilgrims book the itinerary by themselves and later try to book accommodation after reaching Makkah. “Many hotels are pre-booked in holy places and the availability of rooms is scarce. Many hotels are being constructed to accommodate more pilgrims,” said Mehmood.

Experts also noted that people who want to perform Umrah with a tourist visa or multiple entry Umrah visas can land at any airport in Saudi Arabia. “One must log into ‘Nusuk App’ and book an appointment, time, and day to perform ‘Tawaf’”, said Mehmood.

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