Cairo: Saudi Arabia has launched roadshows in Pakistan and Bangladesh on facilities offered by the kingdom to Muslims wishing to perform Umrah or minor pilgrimage at the Grand Mosque, Islam’s holiest site in Mecca.
The shows were opened this week during a trip by Saudi Minister of Hajj and Umrah to Pakistan and Bangladesh where he met senior officials and highlighted Saudi services to pilgrims.
The Ministry of Hajj explained that there are five “smooth” ways whereby Umrah pilgrims can come to Mecca and Medina, home to Islam’s second holiest site.
Addressing pilgrims from Pakistan and Bangladesh, the ministry said they could select one of these channels. They can reserve online an Umrah package via the Saudi government platform Nusuk or get a personal visa through an invitation from Saudi friends or acquaintances.
Holders of the US, UK and Schengen visas and residents in the GCC countries can also head to Saudi Arabia to undertake Umrah. A family visit visa applied for through a resident in Saudi Arabia also entitles the holder to do Umrah.
In recent months, Saudi Arabia has unveiled 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.
Saudi Arabia expects around 10 million Muslims from abroad to do Umrah during the current season.
The season commenced at the start of the new Islamic Hijri year, more than a month ago.
The season began after the end of the annual Islamic Hajj pilgrimage that around 1.8 million Muslims attended for the first time in three years after pandemic-related restrictions were lifted.
Muslims, who cannot physically or financially afford Hajj, go to Saudi Arabia to undertake Umrah.