First Umrah flight arrives in Madinah from Malaysia
The first Umrah flight arrived at Prince Muhammad Bin Abdul Aziz International Airport in Madinah carrying a total of 489 pilgrims from Malaysia.
The Umrah season which started on the first day of Safar (Nov. 13) will continue up to Shawwal 15, 1437H (July 20, 2016). Flights carrying Umrah pilgrims from India and other countries have already started arriving in Jeddah.
The pilgrims were given a warm welcome by officials of the Haj Ministry and other departments involved in the Haj services.
“The use of modern technology is helping us provide Umrah pilgrims with fast and consummate services,” Haj Minister Bandar Al-Hajjar said.
He said e-services include the ministry’s e-portal which facilitates the procedures for obtaining Umrah visas and helped increase the number of Umrah pilgrims to six million last year.
“The system has also helped cut down the number of overstayers drastically,” he added.
The minister made it clear that Saudi diplomatic missions abroad do not levy any charges for Umarh and Haj visas.
“The Haj and Umrah visas are given free of charge to pilgrims. The Kingdom is spending billions of rivals every year to make Haj and Umrah an easy and enjoyable trip,” Hajjar said.
He said pilgrims are being served by 41 companies which have about 3,500 foreign agents in 81 countries.
The Kingdom is planning to triple the number of visas it issues for Umrah. Hajjar announced in October that as many as 1.25 million pilgrims are expected to arrive each month. This compares with 400,000 a month previously.
The new system would allow full use of massive expansion projects at the holy sites. A multi-billion-dollar expansion at the Grand Mosque in Makkah began four years ago.