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Saudi Arabia Welcomes Indian Pilgrims with Open Arms
Umrah Visa from India: Visa Rules Eased
In a significant development, Saudi Arabia has made notable changes to its visa regulations, aiming to facilitate and encourage more Indian Muslims to undertake the sacred pilgrimage of Umrah. The Saudi Hajj and Umrah minister, Tawfig Bin Fawzan Al-Rabiah, shared that these changes are aligned with the growing number of Indian pilgrims, with an expected surge from 1.2 million in 2023 to 1.37 million in 2024.
Umrah Visa from India: Visa Rules Eased
Umrah Without Specific Visa Requirements for Indians: One of the most groundbreaking changes is that Indians no longer require a specific Umrah visa. Instead, they can utilize their work or tourism visas to perform the pilgrimage. Al-Rabiah emphasized the pivotal role played by Indian expatriates in enriching Saudi Arabia economically and culturally.
Elevating the Umrah Experience: The “Nusuk” Platform
To enhance the spiritual journey of Umrah performers, Saudi Arabia is introducing the “Nusuk” platform exhibition. This platform showcases advancements in electronic services tailored for pilgrims, offering a range of digital services and resources designed to elevate the Umrah experience. It also aims to introduce pilgrims to historical and Islamic landmarks in Makkah and Medinah.
Facilitating Arrival: Agreements and Direct Flights
In response to the increasing number of Umrah pilgrims from India, agreements have been brokered to augment the number of dedicated flights. These agreements include the introduction of direct flights from multiple Indian airports to Jeddah and Madinah, making travel more seamless. Additionally, there has been a strategic increase in seat capacity on Saudi Airlines to meet the growing demand for Umrah pilgrimage.
Streamlined Visa Process and Extended Stay
In addition to Umrah Without Specific Visa Requirements for Indians, recent revisions to Umrah visa regulations for Indian Muslims have eliminated restrictions based on their previous visa status. The introduction of a user-friendly e-visa system has streamlined the visa application process, leading to accelerated approvals and fostering an environment of inclusivity and heightened security. Noteworthy adaptations include extending the Umrah visa duration to 90 days, and individuals can now acquire an entry visa within 48 hours.
Enhanced Flexibility for Umrah Performers
Indian travelers are now authorized to undertake Umrah in Saudi Arabia using their work, tourist, or Umrah visas. Moreover, those with a UK, US, or Schengen visa or residency in these countries can also perform Umrah. Additionally, Indians interested in Umrah can obtain a stopover visa. These measures are specifically designed to provide Indian pilgrims with enhanced flexibility, benefiting women embarking on independent Umrah trips and promoting gender equality.
Serving Indian Pilgrims Efficiently: The “Tasheer” Centre
The introduction of the “Tasheer” centre is a significant milestone in catering to Umrah pilgrims from India. This center offers expedited and seamless visa services, aligning with the core goals of the Pilgrims Experience Program, a crucial aspect of Saudi Vision 2030. The establishment of the “Tasheer” centre exemplifies the ministry of Hajj and Umrah’s commitment to continually enhance the pilgrimage experience for all visitors to Saudi Arabia, regardless of the type of visa held.
In conclusion, these recent changes in visa rules and the introduction of supporting initiatives demonstrate Saudi Arabia’s dedication to making the Umrah pilgrimage more accessible and fulfilling for Indian travelers. The increased flexibility, streamlined processes, and technological advancements are poised to contribute to a smoother and more enriching Umrah experience for the growing number of Indian pilgrims.
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