540 Umrah agents move to waive SR2b in fines for breaking visa rules
Move comes after agent had multi-million riyal fine cancelled by a Mecca court
Abu Dhabi: Hundreds of Umrah agents have moved to get SR2 billion in fines for breaking visa rules during the COVID-19 pandemic waived, local media reported.
The move comes after an agent had a multi-million riyal fine cancelled by a Mecca court.
Saudi authorities have shut down these agents after their pilgrims overstayed their visas.
Umrah operators appealed to authorities to take into account the burdens they incurred in the current circumstances and to revise the rules accordingly.
Sources estimated fines for each of the 540 agents range between SR150 million and SR200 million, with the total fines amounting to SR2 billion.
Saad Jamil Al Qurashi, former head of the Saudi Haj and Umrah Committee, said there were only about 100 Umrah companies operating, pointing out that COVID-19 pandemic restrictions have caused about 10,000 employees to be made redundant.
Each Umrah company employs about 20 workers at airports, checkpoints, hotels and companies’ sites, in addition to more than 800 corporate managers, managing directors and executives.
Al Qurashi said the losses of Umrah companies are in the hundreds of millions of riyals and all the fines are related to the pilgrims’ overstaying of their visas, indicating that the fine for breaking the visa for one pilgrim is 25,000 riyals.
He demanded that the affected Umrah companies be allowed to resume their business, and that the reservations be treated as before, taking into account the COVID-19 circumstances, and the lack of reservations, which forced Umrah pilgrims to overstay their visas.
Saudi authorities will restrict Umrah to 20,000 domestic and international pilgrims in the first batch, as the Kingdom gears up for resumption of the minor pilgrimage on August 10.
Hisham Saeed, spokesperson of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, told Okaz only pilgrims from COVID-19 green list countries, and according to what was decided by the Ministry of Health and General Civil Aviation Authority, would be allowed, noting that the number of pilgrims will be gradually increased during the next period.
The kingdom reopened the Grand Mosque in Mecca to domestic Umrah pilgrims on July 25, after the Hajj pilgrimage concluded.
Domestic pilgrims wishing to perform Umrah will need to book an appointment using the Eatmarna app while international pilgrims will be required to go through an official agency.
Foreign pilgrims have access to more than 6,000 external Umrah agencies and about 30 websites and platforms to make reservations for booking their journey to perform Umrah.
Through the online platforms, pilgrims can purchase their entire programme of travel, transportation, hotels, and catering, and specify a company or institution for Umrah to provide services, while Umrah companies and institutions are currently being prepared to follow all health precautions and crowd management.
Two women appointed as assistants at the holy mosques for the first time in Saudi history
Al Sudais appointed Dr Fatima Al Rushood and Dr Al Anoud Al Aboud as his assistants
Two Saudi women have been appointed as assistants to Dr Abdul Rahman Al Sudais, President of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, for the first time in the history of the Kingdom’s highest religious institution.
Al Sudais appointed Dr Fatima Al Rushood and Dr Al Anoud Al Aboud as his assistants.
Al Sudais also issued a resolution introducing the position of assistant for women’s empowerment as part of ongoing efforts to empower women.
The general presidency aims to continue to work to make the most of the distinguished women's cadres and harness their efforts in the service of visitors and pilgrims.
The appointment of women in senior positions at religious institutions is in line with the Saudi vision 2030 to leverage women’s distinguished capabilities in serving visitors and pilgrims to the two holy mosques.
The ministry hopes to welcome two million pilgrims per month through gradually receiving requests
The issuance of permits will be through the applications “Eatmarna” and “Tawakkalna”
Updated 09 August 2021
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah announced that it will accept Umrah requests starting from Aug. 9, 2021, for pilgrims to perform the Islamic rituals, and visit and pray in the Grand Mosque and Prophet’s Mosque, state news agency SPA reported on Sunday.
The issuance of permits will be through the applications “Eatmarna” and “Tawakkalna”. The ministry aims to reach 60,000 pilgrims distributed over eight operational periods, bringing the capacity to two million pilgrims per month.
The deputy minister of Hajj and Umrah, Abdulfattah bin Sulaiman Mashat, explained that the ministry worked in coordination with other authorities before the upcoming Umrah season to create a safe and secure environment for the pilgrims throughout their journey.
For locals and residents, vaccination for COVID-19 is a prerequisite to perform Umrah and visiting and praying in the two holy mosques. Pilgrims coming from outside the kingdom must present an official certificate of vaccination from their countries, in addition to the vaccine being from the list of approved vaccines by Saudi Arabia. Arrivals must also adhere to institutional quarantine procedures.
The deputy minister stated that the number of passengers on a transportation shuttle will not exceed 50 percent of its capacity, while maintaining a safe distance inside, and making sure of the permits of pilgrims issued through the applications before being allowed to board.
Meanwhile, the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques said it has completed organizational preparations to receive pilgrims from outside the Kingdom at the Grand Mosque from Monday.
The Under-Secretary-General for the Affairs of the Grand Mosque, Dr. Saad bin Mohammed Al-Muhaimid, said this included regulating entry and exit points and preparing all corridors, the courtyard and squares before the influx of pilgrims.
He said all field leaders in the Grand Mosque will monitor and evaluate operational plans and provide a safe environment.
Whilst I get your point and sympathize fully with those who don't believe in the lie of the pandemic and the associated lie of the vaccine, how about trusting Allah in the first place instead of lying to go to Hajj and then seeking forgiveness? If someone is so desperate to go to the House of Allah, as every Muslim should be, why not just recite a dua, like the dua of Khalid Bin Waleed, or any other, get vaccinated and trust Allah to not allow any harm to come from it?
This cannot be undone and I am sure it will be greatly appreciated.
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