For all the Indian Hajj pilgrims, here is some good news. Saudi Arabia on Tuesday announced a number of initiatives, including the issuing of 96-hour Umrah stopover visas, which is a significant boost for Indian citizens performing the Hajj. This visa has an easy process and will be received in 48 hours only! Here’s more about the visa and its benefits.
Saudi Arabia Introduces 4-Day Umrah Stopover Visa
Tawfiq bin Fawzan Al-Rabiah, Saudi Arabian Minister of Hajj and Umrah, said in New Delhi that Indian nationals can now conduct Umrah on business, tourism, and umrah visas.
Al-Rabiah told reporters that Indians travelling to the West or Middle East (West Asia) can obtain a stopover visa for 96 hours and get a visa within the ticket issuance process. This allows them to perform umrah and visit any city in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. She was speaking alongside Union Minority Affairs Minister Smriti Irani and Minister of State, External Affairs, V Muraleedharan.
According to him, those with an Umrah visa can live in and travel to any Saudi Arabian city during its 90-day validity. The Indian Umrah pilgrimage has increased dramatically, with over 1.2 million pilgrims expected by 2023, according to the Saudi government.
According to him, there has been a 74% growth since 2022. In order to accommodate the growing number of Indian pilgrims, he added, the two nations are currently in talks to expand the choices for direct flights.
2023 Hajj Pilgrim Data
Pleased to meet Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Hajj & Umrah Tawfiq bin Fawzan AlRabiah.
Discussed the smooth facilitation of the Hajj pilgrimage by Indian nationals. Also shared views on further deepening our ties. pic.twitter.com/7VgpLQCqh7
— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) December 5, 2023
According to a post, later that day, Tawfiq bin Fawzan Al-Rabiah met with External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar. This was to discuss how to best support Indian citizens travelling to Hajj. They also exchanged ideas on strengthening the two nations’ relations.
During Al-Rabiah’s visit, the Haj Committee of India hopes to talk about raising the country’s Hajj pilgrimage quota. According to the 2023 Hajj quota, about 1,75,000 Indians went to Saudi Arabia for the Haj, which is one of the five pillars of Islam.
Munawari Begum, vice president of the Haj Committee of India, stated that one of the visit’s agenda items is to talk about raising the national Hajj quota from the current 1,75,025 to at least 2,00,000.
According to Smriti Irani, about 47% of Indian pilgrims who set out for the Hajj in 2023 were female, with nearly 4,000 of them falling into the category of “Lady without Mahram.” She continued, “The government is also committed to making Hajj inclusive and accessible to all sectors of society, including women and ‘Divyangjan’ (physically challenged). (As per The New Indian Express)
Travel And Residency
The Umrah Visa will be valid for travel and residency within Saudi Arabia, according to the Saudi ministry, ensuring a simple and straightforward pilgrimage experience.
He went on to say that as part of the Saudi Vision 2030, the Kingdom has successfully made Umrah visits into a fulfilling religious journey by utilising technological breakthroughs, improved protocols, and renovated infrastructure.
Al-Rabiah added that individuals wishing to perform Umrah can now obtain a visa in less than 48 hours to enter the Kingdom.
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