In 2016, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammad bin Salman, announced the first details relating to the government project known as Saudi Vision 2030. In an attempt to make the Saudi economy less reliant on oil as the main source of GDP, the government has formed this plan to improve several aspects of Saudi business and services provided to citizens and visitors alike.
The aims of Saudi Vision 2030 include developing public services such as education, infrastructure, and health, in addition to reinforcing trade and commercial activities. The plan has also brought forward the implementation of an e-visa facility for religious pilgrims visiting Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia Opens Its Doors
With big plans to boost the overall economy of Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Vision 2030 has already begun to make great changes toward opening up the Saudi economy to the world.
The project also includes significant developments in tourism as a major possible contributor to the country’s GDP. When certain sporting, cultural, entertainment international events have been held in Saudi Arabia in recent times, specific tourist visa systems have been implemented for the first time in the nation’s history.
However, tourism will not be the only focal point for these types of events, as provisions for religious travel will be central to the new Saudi developments.
What Advantages Does the E-Umrah Visa Facility Offer?
The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah (MHU) aims to facilitate the visa application process for certain travelers who wish to visit Saudi Arabia for religious pilgrimages. These e-Umrah visas will permit travelers to apply for an electronic visa online through a digital platform. This will eliminate the need for eligible citizens to visit a Saudi diplomatic mission such as an embassy or consulate.
Additionally, the time it takes for visitors to obtain their e-Umrah visa will be much less than a traditional visa stamp. Applicants will discover a simplified process that reduces the waiting time for visa appoval before traveling to Saudi Arabia.
The MHU and the government of Saudi Arabia are interested in ensuring that pilgrims visiting the country have a comfortable stay from the moment of arrival until their departure. The e-Umrah Visa facility hopes to accomplish just that.
Who Will Benefit from a Saudi Visa for Pilgrims?
The MHU has launched a weekly tracking system so that authorities can keep track of religious travelers and pilgrims who visit Saudi Arabia to travel to Mecca (Makkah) and Medina (Madinah). This system has allowed the Saudi government to determine how many pilgrims have entered the country and from where since the start of the last Umrah season in October 2018.
This tracking system has allowed authorities to register the issuing of up to nearly 6 million Umrah visas, from which it can provide details on the starting points of the majority of pilgrims.
The majority of citizens who make the pilgrimage to Mecca (Makkah) and visit the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina (Madinah) come from Pakistan. Although Pakistani citizens make up the highest number of applicants for Umrah visas, citizens from Indonesia, India, Egypt, and Turkey follow close behind. Travelers from Yemen, Malaysia, Algeria, Iraq, and Jordan are also among those foreign citizens who apply in high numbers for the Umrah visa.