Pakistani pilgrims breeze through immigration counters at Prince Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz International Airport in Madinah as part of the “Makkah Route” initiative on July 5, 2019. (SPA)
Pakistanis top list of nationalities to perform Umrah this year
Move will facilitate pilgrims traveling from the country, official says
ISLAMABAD: The spokesman for Pakistan’s Ministry of Religious Affairs (MRA) welcomed Saudi Arabia’s decision to do away with charges for any Pakistani seeking to perform Umrah more than once.
Speaking to Arab News on Tuesday, Imran Siddiqui also thanked King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for issuing a royal decree to restructure Hajj, visit, and transit visas.
“Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan had requested Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman to look into the matter [following which the] Minister of Religious Affairs, Noor ul Haq Qadri, had also discussed the matter with his Saudi counterpart during Hajj this year,” Siddiqui told Arab News.
According to the Saudi minister for Hajj and Umrah, Dr. Mohammad Salih Bentin, the royal decree is part of the leadership’s initiative “to facilitate the arrival of Muslims from all over the world for Hajj and Umrah.”
Siddiqui said that the move would facilitate several Pakistani nationals who top the list of pilgrims performing Umrah and would increase the “number of Pakistani pilgrims who want to go for the pilgrimage.”
“This year alone, more than 1.6 million Pakistanis performed Umrah,” he said.
Dr. Bentin added that the initiative reflects the Kingdom’s readiness to receive the increasing number of pilgrims which is apparent from the investments in huge infrastructure projects and the development of services in Makkah and Madinah.
The decree supports efforts to achieve one of the most important objectives of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 reform plan, which hopes to facilitate 30 million Umrah pilgrims by then.