The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has started taking practical steps to implement the Kingdom's Vision 2030 aimed at ensuring the arrival of about 30 million Umrah pilgrims annually.
The ministry announced that the Umrah season for 2018-2019 has been advanced by 30 days to begin in Muharram (September) instead of Safar (October).
The Umrah season used to start in Safar, the second month of the Islamic calendar. However, this year Umrah pilgrims will begin arriving in the Kingdom from September 11, the beginning of the new Hijri year.
The ministry said it will work with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to start issuing Umrah visas to pilgrims at its diplomatic and consular missions abroad.
According to the ministry, more than seven million pilgrims performed Umrah last season.
Deputy Minister Abdul Fattah Mashshat said 15 million pilgrims are expected to perform Umrah by 2022. The number will rise to about 30 million by the year 2030.
We now have 1.8 million Hajj pilgrims coming from outside. We plan to increase this number to five million by 2030, he said.
The deputy minister said the arrival of pilgrims through the air, land and sea inlets has been made extremely easy and that the processing of passports of pilgrims will now take only a few minutes.
In the just-concluded Hajj season we introduced the Makkah Road initiative under which pilgrims, especially from Malaysia and Indonesia, processed their passport procedures in their home countries, he said.
Under the new initiative, pilgrims will not have to wait for immigration on arrival in the Kingdom.
Source: International Islamic News Agency