Saudi Arabia Announces New 96-Hour Visa and Revised Hajj Rules

In a major boost for Indian Muslims, Saudi Arabia has announced a new 96-hour stopover visa and revised visa rules for Haj pilgrims. This means that Indian citizens can now perform the Umrah pilgrimage on existing work or tourism visas, and they can obtain a visa within 48 hours.
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In a significant development benefiting Indian citizens undertaking Haj, Saudi Arabia has announced a series of measures including a new 96-hour stopover visa and revised visa rules for Haj pilgrims.

Apart from the new visa, Indian citizens can now perform the Umrah pilgrimage on existing work or tourism visas, and they can obtain a visa within 48 hours.

The announcement was made by the visiting Saudi Arabian Minister of Hajj & Umrah, Tawfiq bin Fawzan Al-Rabiah, during a press conference in New Delhi, where he was accompanied by Union Minority Affairs Minister Smriti Irani and Minister of State, External Affairs, V Muraleedharan.

Swift Visa Issuance and Extended Stopover Privileges

Saudi Arabia has introduced measures to expedite the visa process for Indian citizens, ensuring issuance within 48 hours. Additionally, a 96-hour stopover visa is now available, allowing travellers to perform Umrah.

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Al-Rabiah emphasized that Indians travelling to the West or Middle East can seamlessly obtain a stopover visa within the ticket issuance process, facilitating Umrah and visits to various cities in the Kingdom.

Umrah Access on Business, Tourism, and Umrah Visas

Al-Rabiah highlighted that Indian citizens can now perform Umrah not only on dedicated Umrah visas but also on business and tourism visas. The Umrah visa is valid for 90 days, enabling holders to reside and explore any Saudi Arabian city during their stay.

Surge in Umrah Pilgrims from India

The Saudi minister noted a substantial increase in Umrah pilgrims from India, surpassing 1.2 million in 2023, reflecting a remarkable 74% increase compared to the previous year. Discussions between the two countries are ongoing to expand direct flight options to accommodate the growing number of Indian pilgrims.

Collaborative Efforts for Smooth Facilitation

During a meeting with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, both ministers discussed enhancing ties between the two nations and ensuring the smooth facilitation of the Hajj pilgrimage by Indian nationals.

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Talks also included the potential increase of India’s Hajj pilgrimage quota from the existing 1,75,025 to at least 2,00,000.

Commitment to Inclusivity

Union Minister Smriti Irani highlighted that in 2023, nearly 47% of Indian pilgrims embarking on Hajj were women, including close to 4,000 women under the ‘Lady without Mahram’ category. The government remains committed to making Hajj inclusive and accessible, particularly for women and physically challenged individuals.

Future Plans and Saudi Vision 2030

The visit is instrumental in planning for Hajj 2024 efficiently, reinforcing the significance of Hajj pilgrimage in the bilateral relationship between India and Saudi Arabia.

Al-Rabiah’s official visit aligns with Saudi Vision 2030, focusing on streamlining procedures, enhancing services, and achieving significant advancements in hosting pilgrims and Umrah performers.

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Final Words

The Saudi minister is set to engage in high-level discussions with Indian officials and key figures in the Hajj and Umrah service sector, showcasing Saudi Arabia’s commitment to serving Umrah pilgrims globally.

The visit to India is part of a broader international tour, demonstrating the Kingdom’s dedication to the outlined objectives of ‘Saudi Vision 2030.’

This visit aims to strengthen collaboration and streamline the Umrah journey for international pilgrims, fostering a closer partnership between India and Saudi Arabia in the realm of religious tourism.


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Manish Khandelwal
Manish Khandelwal

Manish Khandelwal, a travel-tech enthusiast with over a decade of experience in the travel industry. Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Travelobiz.com, he's passionate about writing.

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