Saudi ministry: Umrah season begins on Nov. 23
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Haj has unveiled plans to further strengthen the electronic regulations to improve the services as well as streamline the arrival and departure of pilgrims with the beginning of the Umrah season on Nov. 23 (Safar 1).
Minister of Haj Bandar Hajjar will attend on Thursday a meeting of the concerned officials and heads of Umrah service providers to discuss the updated electronic services, the Saudi Press Agency reported. This will be the second meeting aimed at developing the international electronic network for Umrah and further improving the services and facilities for pilgrims in the new season.
Eissa Rawas, deputy minister for Umrah affairs, said the meeting is being convened in view of the resounding success of last year’s Umrah season when a total of 6.15 million foreign pilgrims performed the lesser pilgrimage.
“The meeting will discuss the pros and cons of last year’s Umrah operation plan to improve the facilities and services. Introduction of the e-regulations has contributed significantly in upgrading the services,” he said.
Hajjar announced recently that the arrangements made during 2012 to restrict the number of pilgrims because of space constraints due to the ongoing expansion of the Grand Mosque would continue in the coming season also. The ministry made 20 percent and 50 percent cuts in the number of foreign and domestic Haj pilgrims respectively while the period of Umrah visas was reduced from one month to 14 days.
The e-tracking system is the major highlight of the e-regulations introduced by the ministry. The system enables the ministry to have an electronic control on the entire process, including issuance of visas, monitoring of services provided to pilgrims, entry and departure of pilgrims etc.