From this year, Saudi Arabia revised its Hajj and Umrah visa policy and visa fee. Performing of Hajj is a strong desire of every Muslim. Hajj is held annually in Makkah in the month of Zil-Hajj whereas Umrah is the pilgrimage performed by Muslims at any time of the year. Muslims from every corner of the world visit Saudi Arabia to perform this spiritual Islamic journey. To perform Hajj, there is a certain visa fee which needs to be paid for this holy journey. Although India is not a Muslim state but there is a great proportion of Indian Muslims who apply for the Hajj visa every year.
The Indian Hajj Committee chairman named Chaudhary Mehboob Ali Kaiser, who is the only elected Muslim representative in the present Indian parliament, holds a positive view regarding Saudi hajj visa policy. Indian Hajj Committee chairman shared his remarks by stating that the new visa fee structure for Hajj and Umrah has no effect on Indian pilgrims. According to him, they have no authority or control over Visa but changes in visa fees will not affect the Indian pilgrims. According to the statistics, 90 percent of Indians pilgrims are those who are going for hajj for the first time. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia started working on a new visa fees structure from 2nd of October 2016. The revised visa fee policy was created for visitors and pilgrims who have already performed hajj and wish to perform it once again.
The chairman admitted that visa fee of SR 2,000 was a big amount. Although this is the decision taken by the government of Saudi Arabia and we should respect this decision. He said that fundamentally our focus is on providing better accommodation and transportation to our Indian pilgrims. To provide pilgrims with good facilities during Hajj, they have just started exploring the best possible arrangement earlier. Indians usually come late into the market as compared to the other pilgrims coming for hajj. Because of these late comers, they are unable to get enough facilities. In this regard, Mr. Kaiser was guided by the CEO of the Hajj Committee of India and one of its members. Mr. Kaiser also visited the Al Azizia District in Makkah.
He further added that a big task for them is to cut the hajj cost on airfares. He had few review meetings with the concerned authorities which included Indian high officials and Saudi building owners. There is a pool of complaints reported against green category buildings in meetings. The concerned authorities just prohibited kitchen facilities in these buildings and most probably many pilgrims won’t opt for it now.
Besides this, the green category accommodation also has some flaws which include the price rate which is twice. Walking Distance is a maximum of about 3 kilometers between the buildings and Haram. In comparison, there are positive remarks about buildings in Al- Aziziya by pilgrims and it is also cheap. There were discussions with building owners in Madinah. This time they would like to rent all buildings around Markazia, possibly, arranging catering services in Madinah as well. Due to the early monitoring, Indian Hajj Committee chairman showed a great response. He is hopeful that the Indian pilgrims will perform Hajj in a better way now (Inshallah).
Source: Saudi Gazette
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