Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia Blacklists 54 Umrah Companies in 19 Arab and Islamic Countries

Fifty-four tour operators organising trips for Umrah or lesser pilgrimage in 19 Arab and Islamic countries have been blacklisted due to violations, a Saudi newspaper has reported.

The step is part of efforts to combat illegal brokerage in bogus journeys for Umrah in Saudi Arabia after violating travel agencies were detected during last month’s Hajj pilgrimage, according to Al Watan newspaper.

Hundreds of unregistered pilgrims died mainly due to scorching heat.

Several pilgrimage companies in Saudi Arabia are coordinating with Saudi security agencies to expose domestic and overseas Umrah brokers, the paper added.

Such brokers are believed to be involved in human trafficking as they are accused of bringing in unregistered pilgrims who cannot afford the costs of legal Umrah on visit visas, it said citing unidentified sources.

There was no official Saudi comment on the report.

Saudi Deputy Minister of Hajj and Umrah Abdul Fatah Mashat has recently met representatives of Umrah firms to discuss preparations for the new Umrah season that started last month after 1.8 million Muslims performed the annual Hajj pilgrimage in and around the holy city of Mecca.

Some 8.3 million Umrah visas were issued during the last season. The Umrah is undertaken around the year in the Grand Mosque, Islam’s holiest place in Mecca.

Saudi Arabia last month announced that 1,301 pilgrims, 83% of them illegals, passed away during the recent Hajj, after trekking for long distances under the sun.

Saudi authorities have repeatedly said that a Hajj visa is mandatory to perform the annual pilgrimage that coincided this year with extreme heat, and cracked down on fake tours on its soil. Saudi authorities also said that a visit visa does not quality its holder to perform Hajj and barred holders from entering Mecca and nearby sites where the pilgrimage rites take place.


Gulf News

Related Articles

Back to top button