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Apart from the announcement by MOHU, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Interior also said that it would implement fines of SR10,000 (Dh 9,793.54) for anyone caught entering Mecca without a Hajj permit from June 2 to June 20, 2024. File photo used for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Reuters

Dubai: If you are planning to visit Saudi Arabia soon, it is important to remember that while normally you would be able to perform Umrah on any type of entry vis, this would not be applicable during the Hajj season.

The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah (MOHU) recently announced that from May 24 to June 26, 2024, Umrah permits will only be issued to those with a confirmed Hajj permit.

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What is the Umrah permit, and how can you apply for one during the Hajj season? Here is all you need to know.

Umrah permit for Hajj pilgrims

After new regulations were put into place a few years ago, pilgrims who wish to perform Umrah are required to apply for an online Umrah permit through the Nusuk app. ‘Nusuk’ is the official government platform for pilgrims going to Mecca and Medina, providing them with information on immigration requirements, rituals that need to be followed and details on various sites within Mecca and Medina that people can visit. The app, which is available for Apple and Android devices, is the ‘official guide to Mecca and Medina’, is also used to apply for a permit whether you are going for Hajj, Umrah or to the Al Rawda Al Sharifa in the Prophet’s [PBUH] mosque.

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Even Hajj pilgrims will be required to apply for the Umrah permit when they go for the pilgrimage. As per the announcement by the Ministry, only those individuals who already have a Hajj permit on the app will be able to apply for the Umrah permit.

Make sure you have the Hajj permit

MOHU has been stressing on the need for pilgrims to ensure that they have their Hajj permit with them when they are performing the rituals during Hajj.

As reported by Gulf News earlier pilgrims should obtain a Hajj permit through the Nusk platform once they have registered for Hajj.

Hajj permit required to enter Mecca

Apart from the announcement by MOHU, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Interior also said that it would implement fines of SR10,000 (Dh 9,793.54) for anyone caught entering Mecca without a Hajj permit from June 2 to June 20, 2024.

The regulation applies to all, including Saudi citizens, expatriates, and visitors, and covers several critical areas such as the holy sites and transport hubs.

Repeat offenders may face fines up to SR100,000 (Dh97,935.41), and expatriates could be deported and banned from re-entry.

Those transporting violators risk up to six months in jail, a SR50,000 (Dh48,967.71) fine, vehicle confiscation, and deportation for expatriate transporters.

Baggage requirements to keep in mind

If you are going for Hajj, you should also keep in mind certain guidelines when it comes to packing your luggage. MOHU provided the following rules to remember:

• Avoid exceeding weight limits. Luggage weight limit for international flights are determined by the policies of each individual airline. Also, if you are going through the Hajj programme of your country or state, you will be informed of the luggage limit from them.
• Do not use plastic bags.
• Refrain from packing water bottles or any liquid substances.
• Ensure all luggage is wrapped and secured properly.
• Do not use fabric to wrap your luggage.

The Ministry also advised pilgrims to pack lightly, plan and prepare well in advance, be punctual and arrive at the airport on time and ensure all travel documents are in order before departure.

Guidelines for carrying cash

The Ministry has also advised pilgrims to minimise cash for a safe Hajj journey, asking them to plan and pack wisely for the trip “to cover your trip’s necessities and expenses, avoiding the burden of large sums of money”.

Other ways in which you can minimise cash on hand is by:

- Prepaying service fees.
- Estimating extra services beforehand.
- Choosing electronic payment options.

Guidelines in case you have any medical conditions

The Ministry has also asked pilgrims to ensure that they are carrying their medical documents, especially if they …

• have a chronic condition.
• require specific medical treatments.
• are on prescribed medications.
• use implanted medical devices.

These documents will ensure you get the right healthcare promptly and facilitate smoother processing at immigration points.