Dubai: If you are planning to perform Umrah and want to book a package with a local travel agent in your country, you must first make sure the company is licensed. Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah (MOHU) recently advised pilgrims to verify the legitimacy of travel agencies before booking an Umrah package and making any arrangements.
“To ensure your safety and avoid any potential scams, please visit the official website of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah. You will find a list of licensed Umrah agents in your country,” the Ministry stated in a Twitter post on Sunday, August 13.
How to find licensed Umrah operators in each country
1. Visit the website – eservices.haj.gov.sa
2. Click on travel agents on the menu bar.
3. Next, select your country and city from the drop down menu.
4. Click ‘Search’.
5. You will be able to view all the travel agents in your city registered with the Ministry and the company’s phone number, email address and location.
While Saudi companies and establishments that are licensed by the Ministry to provide Umrah services and create Umrah packages are referred to as Umrah operators, travel agents are licensed external agencies from MOHU and are allowed to market Umrah packages that were created by Saudi Umrah companies.
You must have the mandatory Umrah Permit
Recently, MOHU also issued another notice on social media informing pilgrims to obtain an Umrah permit before arriving at the Grand Mosque in Mecca. You must book the Umrah permit through the ‘Nusuk’ app, which is available for Apple and Android devices.
How to book the Umrah permit online
Once your visa has been issued, you are required to book an Umrah permit from the available dates in the Nusuk app. You would need to register as an international visitor and provide your visa number, after which you can book the date and time for your Umrah. For a detailed guide on how to use the app, click here .
Should I wear a face mask?
On August 14, the Saudi Ministry of Interior’s Twitter account also advised pilgrims to wear a face mask “in the Grand Mosque [in Makkah] and the Prophet Mohammed’s (PBUH) mosque [in Medina] and their courtyards”. The Ministry said that this would help visitors protect themselves and others from infections and disease.
Umrah visas for Saudi Arabia
There are quite a few entry visas that allow you to perform Umrah during your trip to Saudi Arabia, such as a transit visa, an eVisa, a family visit visa or a personal visit visa.
UAE residents and other expatriates residing in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states, are eligible to apply for a 90-day tourist eVisa, regardless of their profession, and also perform Umrah.
Additionally, over 50 nationalities are eligible for visas on arrival, with which you can also perform Umrah. To find out if you are eligible for a visa on arrival, click here.
If you are not eligible for any of the visa types, you can apply for an Umrah visa through licensed travel agents in your country or through ‘Tasheer’ – umrah.tasheer.com, which is an electronic portal linked to the Saudi central reservation engine owned by MOHU.