Saudi Arabia will lift the suspension of Umrah services and visits to the holy sites in a phased manner after several months of closure due to the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic, local media reported on Monday.
The Minister of Hajj and Umrah Muhammad Saleh Benten said that the temporary suspension of Umrah pilgrimage and visits to the Two Holy Mosques will be lifted in a phased manner.
“The gradual resumption of Umrah and the visits will rely on technical solutions that enable Umrah service providing companies and establishments to further improve their services as well as to market their services locally and globally,” he said while addressing the second virtual forum to enrich the experience of Umrah pilgrims.
The minister pointed out that there will be more than 30 local and international companies that can handle the provision of services for the pilgrims through an electronic pathway that enables these service providers to do the necessary follow-up while serving the pilgrims.
He said that the merger of Umrah companies will make them stronger and more capable of providing high-quality services for some 16 million Umrah pilgrims annually.
A new smart card will be issued for these companies during their transitional period and this card will be used first to serve visitors to the Prophet’s Mosque from within the Kingdom and abroad. “We aspire to serve 30 million pilgrims annually by the year 2030,” he added.
Abdul Fattah Mashat, Deputy Minister of Haj and Umrah, said that mergers and acquisitions in the Umrah sector will significantly reduce operational costs and contribute to increasing operational efficiency and diversification of services because of the increase in assets and financial capabilities.
“The Hajj and Umrah system is not limited to the basic services provided to the pilgrims, as there is a full gamut of services that can be provided by the private sector, such as support and logistical services, which will have a major role in achieving the goals of the Vision 2030,” he added.