Last week, almost all mainline newspapers in Pakistan published that Saudi Government has taken back its decision to impose Umrah Visa Fee of SR 2,000 per passport. In the news, they claimed that the Umrah visa fee has been taken back considering around SR 100 million expected loss due to the reduction in Umrah pilgrims. It is important to mention here that Umrah Visa fee was increased to SR 2,000 in the month of August 2016 through a Royal Decree. However, there is no Umrah Visa fee for pilgrims visiting first time to Saudi Arabia on Umrah Visa.
Pakistani newspapers claimed that due to boycott by Egypt and many other countries to send their pilgrims to Saudi Arabia as the visa fee is very high, the Saudi government is expecting heavy losses which amount to around SR 100 million. In this regard, the Saudi government has decided to remove Umrah Visa fee of SR 2,000 per passport from their second Umrah trip. The newspapers have also claimed that Saudi government has informed its embassies all around the world about this reduction in Umrah Visa fee.
What is the reality? This news was in circulation all around the social media and Ministry of Hajj finally took its notice. They informed Arab News that there is no reality behind this news and it is fake, false and merely a rumor. They also stated that the news published in Pakistani Media does not provide any authentic reference to the source of information. The decision was imposed based on a Royal Decree and Ministry of Hajj does not even have the prerogative to take back this fee.
However, a source from the Ministry of Hajj has confirmed that Pakistani government along with many other countries have been requesting from Saudi Arabia to remove or at least decrease the visa fee. SR 2,000 is a huge amount for a normal resident in Pakistan and due to which many of them are not able to perform Umrah.
However, if you take the decision of imposing SR 2,000 on Umrah Visa from a different angle, you will realize that this is somehow good for very poor people from these countries who save money for their entire life to perform Umrah. As there is no fee to apply for Umrah visa for the first time, they will be given preference.
Source: Arab News