RIYADH: The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah eased rules and allowed foreign pilgrims to obtain visas within minutes.
The ministry said that pilgrims can now book Umrah tours and obtain visas using the Maqam online platform.
The Makam platform allows the possibility of obtaining Umrah visas for pilgrims coming from outside the state and choosing the package of services available on one of the approved electronic platforms.
The platform provides all the details related to Hajj and Umrah reservation from anywhere in the world.
The new service ensures that pilgrims get Umrah visas within minutes and without any assistance.
Under the new policy, pilgrims will have to visit the Makam portal and select their desired travel agency.
They have to sign up on the website of the travel agency of their choice and enter travel details, such as the date of departure and the number of nights in the airport, Mecca and Medina, and choose the first stop between two options – Mecca or Medina.
For booking a hotel and flight, they can select a hotel of their choice in Mecca and Medina, transport package, and flight ticket and input personal details.
Pilgrims need passport size photographs and a passport with a validity of six months.
Pilgrims need to choose to pay for Umrah visas, flight tickets and hotels with a credit or debit card, add a payment method and submit an application.
After completing the application, pilgrims can visit the website of the Ministry of External Affairs to complete the data.
The move also coincides with the Saudi Ministry of Tourism’s announcement of amending the travel visa regulation for the purpose of tourism, including expanding eligible categories to include residents of Gulf countries.
Saudi’s frequent decisions to facilitate the process of obtaining visas and entering the country reaffirm the kingdom’s desire to double the number of tourists during the coming period to become an economic tributary of the country.