UAE: Operators offer weekend Umrah trips, special packages as Covid curbs ease

Here are the conditions pilgrims must fulfil to go for the pilgrimage



By Afkar Abdullah

Published: Sat 20 Nov 2021, 11:07 AM

Last updated: Sat 20 Nov 2021, 11:10 AM

As life in Saudi Arabia starts to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic and authorities resume the reception of worshipers from various counties to its holy mosques in full capacity, the turnout of citizens and residents to Hajj and Umrah to campaigns to travel to perform the rites is increasing day by day.

The majority of operators have dedicated various programs, trips and packages to suit everyone. According to operators that follow the Saudi Arabia measures to arrange the trips, travellers need to fulfil some conditions or preventive measures.

  • The most important step is submitting a vaccination certificate, showing that they have received two doses of any of the vaccines approved by Saudi authorities. These include two doses of the Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca vaccine.
  • Those who have received two doses of the Sinpoharm vaccine may apply as well, provided that they also received a third Pfizer or AstraZeneca dose.
  • The travel date should be at least 14 days after receiving the last dose of the vaccine.
  • Children under 18 are not allowed to travel for Umrah.
  • Private cars driven by expats to go to Umrah are not allowed to pass through the borders.
  • Travellers must also produce a negative PCR test result from an approved laboratory 72 hours before travelling.

The Umrah and Hajj operators told Khaleej Times that they have started to receive travel requests from residents and citizens in the country with the easing of curbs. However, the number is yet to reach pre-pandemic levels as many people are wary of gatherings. Also contributing to the slow return is that many received the Sinopharm vaccine, but are yet to get the booster jab required for approval by authorities.

Mohamed Al Bayaty, owner of Al Tawakul for Hajj and Umrah operators, said that the turnout has increased by 20 per cent since its opening. His company has prepared programs for groups, families and individuals. These include flights, hotel bookings, transport from Jaddah to Makkah and Makkah to Madinah.

"We also help the pilgrims to issue Umrah performance permission from Saudi Authority. The prices of the Umrah for individuals varies from Dh1600 if travelling by bus, and the minimum amount for those travelling by flight is Dh3,800 per person. This includes flight tickets, hotel accommodation and internal transportation."

"The average Umrah trip ranges between Dh6,000 per person in a single room in a five-star accommodation, and Dh1,400 per person in a quadruple room in a three-star hotel," Al Bayaty said.

He explained that the prices of the trip increase during religious occasions, such as on the Prophet Mohammed's (PBUH) birthday or during the last 10 days of the holy month of Ramadan.

The average prices of Umrah trips during the Prophet's birthday usually were about Dh6,000 per person in a single room or Dh2,300 per person in a double room. However, it could also be as low as Dh1,990 per person in a triple room or Dh1,490 per person in a quadruple room. These prices usually increase by 50 per cent during Ramadan.

Al Bayaty said that his operation and others had allocated special programs for citizens, such as the "5-star" Umrah packages at prices starting from Dh4,900 per person in a double room. This package includes flight, visa, and accommodation in a five-star hotel near Al Haram, in addition to internal transport with luxurious cars.

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Mohamed Abdul Mohsin, owner of Al Mulabbi operators, said they specialised in organising weekend Umrah programs, which is in high demand. "Umrah Weekends" aren't longer than three days, starting with travel on Thursday of each week and returning on Saturday, at an average price of Dh1,700 per person.

Khalid Al Sunosi, another Umrah operator, said that they often organised awareness campaigns to guide those who wished to perform the pilgrimage.

Along with all relevant Covid information, they also informed travellers that "that (their) passport be valid for more than six months, to submit a personal photo, obtain an Umrah visa to enter Saudi territory (for expats)."

An official of the Al Madani Umrah operators said that the programs also educated pilgrims about additional preventive tasks such as the precautionary measures they must follow before they leave their country to when they leave Saudi Arabia. They also emphasised the pilgrim's health data validity, since they bear responsibility for its integrity.

He stressed their keenness to make all efforts to preserve the safety of Umrah pilgrims, citizens and residents of the country, and to ensure the performance of safe rituals in a reassuring and comfortable atmosphere.

Mona Ali Ahmed, a pilgrim who intends to perform Umrah on December 1, said that she was happy that Saudi Arabia had opened to worshippers from around the world again.

"We have been waiting for the decision since the decrease of Covid-19 cases," she says. "When it was announced, we immediately applied with the operator as they make the procedures easy to perform the ritual."

Huda Ahmed, another Umrah pilgrim, said that she was happy to go on Umrah. She said she had been dreaming about it for years, first scheduling it for 2019 when the pandemic made her postpone her plans.

"When the Saudi authorities have announced the resumption of receiving Umrah seekers, I immediately made a request with the Umrah operator to facilitate my trip. "

Sana Khan, another pilgrim, urged the Saudi Arabian government to approve of the Sinopharm vaccine without the booster dose. Though she was happy to be going on Umrah, she was disappointed to learn that some of her relatives could not come with her due to their vaccination status.


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