Photo: Umrah pilgrims arriving at Madinah in Saudi Arabia on November 30, 2016. Abd Halim Hadi/Shutterstock

Islamic Lifestyle

Saudi Arabia to refund umrah visa fees affected by COVID-19 ban

Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has set up an online facility to process refunds of umrah visa fees and service charges for would-be pilgrims and agents affected by the Kingdom's temporary suspension of umrah entries.

Saudi Arabia on Feb 27 temporarily suspended entry into the Kingdom for the purpose of umrah or visiting the Prophet’s mosque in Madinah, citing “proactive preventive measures to prevent the arrival of the new Coronavirus (COVID-19) to the Kingdom and its spread”.

Would-be pilgrims affected by the temporary suspension would need to contact their local umrah agents to recover their visa fees. 

Umrah industry stakeholders, including national authorities, agents and pilgrims, were scarmbling after the announcement of the temporary suspension. All interviewed by Salaam Gateway in Indonesia, Malaysia and India cited concerns about potential losses, especially as the period of suspension is uncertain.

وزارة الحج والعمرة تؤكد الآلية الإلكترونية المتبعة لاسترجاع رسوم التأشيرات وأجور الخدمات عند طريق وكلاء العمرة في بلدان المعتمرين

— وزارة الحج والعمرة (@HajMinistry) March 1, 2020

7,457,663 pilgrims performed the umrah during the 1440 Islamic year, equivalent to Sep 11, 2018 to Aug 2, 2019, according to data from the Saudi hajj ministry.

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