Saudi Arabia announced it would introduce a 96-hour stopover visa for Indian travellers, along with visa issuance within 48 hours.
Additionally, Indian citizens can now perform Umrah on business, tourism, and Umrah visas, Saudi Arabian Minister of Hajj and Umrah, Tawfiq bin Fawzan Al-Rabiah, who is currently on a visit to Delhi, said.
“Indians travelling to the West (Asia) or the Middle East can obtain a stopover visa for 96 hours and get a visa within the ticket issuance process, which allows them to perform Umrah and visit any city in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the minister told reporters in Delhi.
His Excellency tfrabiah@ commences his official visit to the Republic of India with a meeting with Her Excellency Smriti Zobin Irani, Minister of Minorities, during which he highlighted the facilities being extended to ensure an easy and comfortable journey for the guests of… pic.twitter.com/o3d9qlWG01— Ministry of Hajj and Umrah (@MoHU_En) December 5, 2023
The Saudi minister said there has been a significant increase in the number of Umrah pilgrims from India of late, surpassing 1.2 million in 2023, which is a 74 percent increase in comparison with 2022.
He also said that the two countries are now holding discussions to enhance the range of direct flight options to accommodate an increasing number of Indian pilgrims.
Al-Rabiah also held a meeting with India’s External Affairs Minister, S. Jaishankar.
The discussions included issues related to the smooth facilitation of the Hajj pilgrimage by Indian nationals and deepening the ties between the two countries, Jaishankar said in a post on X.
Pleased to meet Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Hajj & Umrah Tawfiq bin Fawzan AlRabiah.— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) December 5, 2023
Discussed the smooth facilitation of the Hajj pilgrimage by Indian nationals. Also shared views on further deepening our ties. pic.twitter.com/7VgpLQCqh7
The Haj Committee of India is hoping to discuss increasing India’s Hajj pilgrimage quota during Al-Rabiah’s visit.
Under the 2023 Hajj quota, around 175,000 Indians travelled to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj pilgrimage.
One of the agendas of the visit is to discuss the enhancement of the Hajj quota from the existing 175,025 to at least 200,000. Munawari Begum, vice president of the Haj Committee of India, said.