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I recently wrote a post about the new regulation on the Umrah visas. We were waiting for the final decision and now it’s here.
The visa for 2016/2017 is open and the rule is sticking around.
This means that everyone who wants to go for Umrah from now until Ramadan and has already been in the past 3 years will pay 2,000SAR plus the admin fee. This in the UK comes to about £500 per person. Ouch!
For those who have not been before or it has been more than 3 years are lucky as their Umrah visa will cost them around £80 -£100 which is the standard fee.
Note that you only can issue an Umrah visa through an accredited agent.
Sadly, I can see this having many consequences for Muslims who want to go for Umrah.
For those in the poorer Muslim countries, they already have a problem with saving for the trip or the long waitlist. Nothing will really change for them since they will receive their visa free of charge if it’s their first visit. For the middle class who went every other year, for example, it will be an added cost. Possibly will have to wait an extra year before applying.
In the West and those Muslims who visit every year (like myself) boy, have we been hit hard. Obviously going for Umrah is a blessing and should have never been taken for granted. But I know many families will now struggle to afford to cost as for a family of 4 the total visa fees are approximately £2,200. That is without considering the package cost or the DIY Umrah cost (much less).
Agents and companies are seeing competition now, as in my opinion (and theirs), there will be lesser demand for Umrah at the begging. I can see that many of the hotels in Makkah and Medina will be hit and potentially will have to lower their prices. This can only be good since the hotels in recent years have been demanding silly money.
Overall I think this fee might be a good and a bad thing but I feel that in few months it will sort of level. If prices on accommodation go down, packages absorb some of the cost and the visa cost is higher it might be similar to before. Just my guess.
Personally, I feel that going for Umrah is a blessing and I make dua we can afford it every year. With my DIY Umrah tips and course, you can still make your Umrah for almost free and nothing stops you from going every year even with the extra Umrah visa cost.