NEW DELHI — The Saudi Cabinet has decided on Tuesday to give freedom to Umrah pilgrims to move around and visit historical places throughout the country during their stay in the Kingdom.
Previously, Umrah pilgrims were restricted to the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah and the port city of Jeddah.
Saudi Cabinet’s decision is definitely going to boost tourism in the country and of course the economy. Millions of people visit for Umrah every year.
Muslims making the holy pilgrimage will be allowed to tour anywhere in the country as part of Saudi Arabia’s plans to boost tourism and the economy.
“The Cabinet has decided to exclude people coming to perform Umrah and to visit the Prophet’s Mosque (in Madinah), of the prohibition of movement outside Makkah, Madinah, and Jeddah. A royal decree has been prepared to this effect,” the acting media minister, Issam bin Saeed, said in a statement to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), reports Arab News.
Nearly 8 million Muslims will perform Umrah in the Kingdom this year, and the Cabinet’s move will enable them to enjoy a broader experience of Saudi Arabia by visiting key landmarks, historic sites, tourist attractions, and shopping centers.
“We are looking to enrich the experience of pilgrims and facilitate their arrival,” Dr. Amr Al-Maddah, chief planning and strategy officer at the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, told Arab News. “Traveling around the Kingdom is an opportunity for pilgrims to visit cultural and tourist sites.
“At the same time, they will be allowed to arrive at any port in the country which will facilitate their arrival and expand the capacity to receive more pilgrims.”
In the past, pilgrims were allowed to convert their visas into a tourist visa on the condition that they were registered with a tourism program. “This is no longer a requirement,” said Al-Maddah.
He further noted that the authority responsible for implementing the Cabinet’s decision would be the Interior Ministry.