Srinagar- Saudi Arabia has advised overseas Muslims, planning to perform Umrah or lesser pilgrimage, to verify the credentials of agents first.
“Dealing with licensed companies guarantee your rights,” the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said, addressing would-be pilgrims.
The ministry advised them to log onto its website and check a list of licensed agents in their home countries via the link https://eservices.haj.gov.sa.
Saudi Arabia expects around 10 million Muslims from the world over to perform Umrah this season.
The season commenced weeks ago, with the beginning of Muharram-ul-Haram, the first Islamic Hijri year and after the end of annual Hajj pilgrimage.
Record 1.8 million Muslims performed Hajj this year and the number was highest after pandemic-related restrictions were lifted.
Muslims, who cannot physically or financially afford Hajj, go to Saudi Arabia to undertake Umrah at the Grand Mosque, Islam’s holiest site in Makkah.
Muslims holding different types of entry visas such as the personal, visit and tourist visas are allowed to undertake Umrah and visit Masjid al Nabavi, the resting place of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) located in Medina after booking an e-appointment.
Saudi authorities have extended the Umrah visa from 30 days to 90 and allow holders to enter the kingdom via all land, air and sea routes and leave likewise
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.
Sources told Kashmir Observer that Saudi citizens can now invite their Muslim friends abroad to the Kingdom to perform Umrah on “personal visit visa.”
Personal visas, which can be obtained online, can either be single entry or multiple entry, they said.
Aside from performing Umrah rituals at the Grand Mosque in Makkah and visiting the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina, visitors can also make trips to various tourism destinations in the Kingdom.
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