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Tue 13 Dec 2016 12:35 PM

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Saudi mulls short-term visa for Umrah pilgrims

Pilgrims staying for five days could be charged SR500 rather than the present SR2,000

Saudi mulls short-term visa for Umrah pilgrims
(Getty Images)

Umrah pilgrims staying in Saudi Arabia for five days or less could be charged a lower visa fee than at present, under new proposals from the government.

The kingdom is reportedly considering the introduction of a SR500 ($133) ‘short-term visa’ fee for those pilgrims staying for only five days.

Under a new visa fees structure unveiled in October, first-time pilgrims are exempt from paying fees, but second-time and subsequent visits incur a SR2,000 ($533) fee for a single-entry visa.

Haj and Umrah minister Mohammed Saleh Bantan was reported in Saudi media as saying that this is one of “many options” the ministry is considering to continue attracting visitors to the kingdom while also generating revenue.

The minister had previously been quoted as saying the new visa fees would not constitute any financial burden on Muslim pilgrims as the government would bear the cost of visas for first-time pilgrims, Saudi Gazette reported.

Under the latest proposals, all pilgrims would be charged, but those staying for a shorter length of time would pay less.

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