Umrah Grand mosque Saudi Arabia
In this file photo taken on June 14, 2018 worshippers gather at the Grand Mosque in Islam's holiest city of Mecca as Muslims perform the Umrah. Image Credit: AFP

Cairo: Saudi authorities have unveiled steps for foreign nationals staying outside the kingdom to get a family visit visa enabling the holder to perform Umrah or lesser pilgrimage in Mecca, home to Islam’s holiest site.

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said the family visit visa can be obtained through a resident in the kingdom who is a relative of the beneficiary.

The applicant should be a Saudi citizen or a resident expatriate, the ministry noted.

“Application for the visa is presented via the Foreign Ministry’s Unified National Platform,” the ministry said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Afterwards, the visa holder should make sure before heading to the Grand Mosque in Mecca of having booked an Umrah appointment via the Nusuk or Tawakklana Services apps.

Saudi Arabia expects around 10 million Muslims from abroad to do Umrah during the current season that began a month ago.

In recent months, Saudi Arabia has introduced a host of facilities for overseas Muslims to come to the country to do Umrah.

Muslims holding different types of entry visas such as the personal, visit and tourist visas are allowed to undertake Umrah and visit Al Rawda Al Sharifa, where the tomb of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) is located at the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina after booking an e-appointment.

Saudi authorities have extended the Umrah visa from 30 days to 90 and allowed holders to enter the kingdom via all land, air and sea outlets and leave from any airport.

The kingdom has also said that expatriates residing in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries are eligible to apply for a tourist visa, regardless of their profession, and be able to perform Umrah.

Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia added eight more countries to the visit e-visa system, allowing their nationals to come to the kingdom for Umrah and tourism, raising the total number of countries whose citizens have access to this entry service to 57.

Holders of the Schengen, US and UK visas can also book appointments for Umrah and visiting Al Rawda Al Sharifa, via the Nusuk app before arrival in Saudi Arabia.