Um­rah to re­main open year-long

Pakistan Observer - - NATIONAL -

IS­LAM­ABAD—The Saudi Min­istry of Haj and Um­rah plans to keep the Um­rah sea­son open through­out the year from next year, ac­cord­ing to a se­nior of­fi­cial of the min­istry.

“Um­rah visas would be granted through­out the year ex­cept dur­ing the Haj sea­son which be­gins midShawwal (the 10th month of the Is­lamic cal­en­dar) and ends on mid-Muhar­ram (first month on the cal­en­dar),” Ab­dul­lah Qadi, deputy chair­man of the Na­tional Com­mit­tee for the Haj and Um­rah in Makkah Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try, Arab news re­ported.

He said the min­istry has stopped is­su­ing new Um­rah visas start­ing Ra­madan 15 (June 20). How­ever, Saudi diplo­matic mis­sions abroad will con­tinue to grant Um­rah visas to those who have al­ready be­ing supplied with visa ref­er­ence num­bers, he said.

Ac­cord­ing to re­ports, Um­rah visas have in­creased by seven per­cent over their num­ber last year to reach 6.4 mil­lion. “This is still below the min­istry’s am­bi­tious plan of re­ceiv­ing about eight mil­lion Um­rah pilgrims this year,” said Qadi.

He at­trib­uted the drop in the num­ber of Um­rah pilgrims to global eco­nomic down­turn and the fluc­tu­at­ing ex­change rates. The min­istry, in co­op­er­a­tion and co­or­di­na­tion with the con­cerned agen­cies, has made elab­o­rate ar­range­ments to cope with the un­prece­dented rush of pilgrims and to en­able them to per­form their rit­u­als in ease and com­fort, the In­for­ma­tion Cen­ter at the Min­istry of Haj and Um­rah said in a press state­ment.

The rev­enues to be gen­er­ated by the Um­rah sea-son are ex­pected to soar over SR 200 bil­lion by the year 2020, ac­cord­ing to Saad Bin Jameel Al-Qurashi, for­mer mem­ber of the Na­tional Haj and Um­rah Com­mit­tee of the Makkah Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try.

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