Govt warns erring Haj, Umrah operators
The Ministry of Haj recently warned foreign Umrah firms against involving the name of Saudi Arabia in the delays in completing Umrah procedures.
The ministry also warned Umrah companies against extortion practices and pitting pilgrims against the Kingdom through accusations, a local publication reported.
In addition, the ministry warned Umrah operators from increasing prices of Umrah services and then ascribing these increases to “regulatory measures” taken by the Kingdom.
A source was quoted as telling the publication that in case any of the licensees were found overlapping the operational plan allocated for the company, or found registering Umrah pilgrims “off line” and then justifying delays by saying that the ministry is lagging in approvals and visas while trying at the same time to pit pilgrims against the Kingdom and the controls it puts in place, the offender will be liable for the most severe punishments, including canceling authorizations and licenses.
The source added: “The licensee must link the data of Umrah pilgrims with the actual address of the housing accommodations in Makkah or Madinah. Not providing such data or inputting it incorrectly will entail punishments on the offender.”
The Ministry of Haj in this regard called on all licensees to submit their operational plan for the whole Umrah period starting from Safar until Ramadan at the beginning of the new Hijri year.
The ministry then will initially approve the plan but the final approval will come on a monthly basis after assessing the performance of the company. The ministry also stressed the fact that no contracts or agreements should be signed before acquiring the final monthly approval which is dependent in turn on the performance of the company.
The visa applications for 1437, the source explained, should be compatible with the approved operational plans of the Ministry of Haj for each individual licensee and in accordance with the controls in place during 1436.
If new directions emerge, all companies will be notified once they are issued. The contract signed with outside agents should contain explicit provisions on all the controls to be then documented and endorsed by the ministry, a must condition to document the contracts.