What are the current rules?
Women who desire to perform Umrah and Hajj are required to travel the Kingdom along with their mahram relative. Only the women who are above 45 years are allowed to perform the pilgrimage without any mahram relative or their male guardian if they are in an authorized group.
Furthermore, if women travel to the Kingdom to perform religious pilgrimage in a group of people without any mahram, she is obliged to submit a no-objection letter signed from her mahram.
Saudi Government is considering waving off this requirement
However, this is the current situation but now some sources have claimed that the government is studying various visa policies and it is believed that soon the women may be allowed to travel the Kingdom to perform pilgrimage without any mahram.
The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah is conducting studies to issue the visas for both tourism and Umrah purpose and it is believed that this is going to create a new policy that will allow women to visit the Saudi Kingdom without their male relatives. This development in the ministry has led the Umrah firms to interfere in the sector in order to save businesses.
The Umrah firms have also raised their concerns about the influence of regulation. They said they are losing, and 200 companies will leave the market if authorities do not step in.
Hajj and Umrah companies have to pay SR 1 million per year
Hajj and Umrah National Committee head, Marwan Abbass Shaban said that each Umrah company has two branches and 20 employees. They are obliged to spend at least SR1 million annually if it did not receive any Umrah pilgrim.
Furthermore, he said that the majority of the companies in the sector are small and they could not bear such a great loss. He demanded the officials to interact with them and call for higher authorities to consider their demands.
He also related that there are nearly 750 Umrah and Hajj companies and among them, only 500 are in the market and they were only running at 1 percent of their capacity
Dr. Mohammad Saleh Benten, the Minister of Hajj and Umrah followed a meeting with the National Committee for Hajj and Umrah and discussed the regulations and instruction for Umrah companies and also approved the updates to Umrah services.
However, the Minister of Hajj and Umrah, Hatim Qadi, briefed on the matter declaring that it isn’t within the authority of the ministry to cancel the mahram condition. He assured that the ministry cannot cancel the condition.
Source: Arab News