RIYADH, 22 September – Saudi Arabia has made it easier for foreign pilgrims to choose Umrah packages through the electronic platform Maqam and complete the issuance of visa procedures within a short period of time. Pilgrims can quickly apply and get issued an Umrah visa from anywhere in the world.
The Umrah pilgrims are able to plan their own itineraries electronically through approved Online Travel Agents (OTAs) and platforms. The validity of the visa is 90 days and the pilgrims are free to travel all across the Kingdom.
A pilgrim from abroad can book Umrah services through the Maqam platform, obtain a visa, and book services electronically from all over the world through the platform within less than 24 hours, by entering the main page and clicking on the list of approved electronic platforms.
The Maqam platform essentially serves as a Global Distribution System (GDS), linking services, rates, and bookings as well as offering goods and services across various industries such as hotels, airlines, and car rentals. In the process, travel agents and OTAs rely on the Maqam portal to offer and promote their services to Umrah seekers worldwide.
For the issuance of a visa, the pilgrim shall visit the Maqam portal and select their desired travel agency. They need to sign up on the website of the travel agency of their choice and enter trip details, such as departure date and airport, numbers of nights in Makkah and Madinah and select the first stop from the two options- Makkah or Madinah.
For booking a hotel and flight, he can select one hotel of his choice in Makkah and Madinah, the transport package, and the flight ticket and input personal details. The pilgrim needs a passport-size photo and a passport with six-month validity. The pilgrim has to add a payment method by choosing to pay for an Umrah visa, flight ticket, and hotel with a credit or debit card, and submit an application. After finishing the application, the pilgrim can go to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website to complete the data and get the Umrah visa.
The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has provided easy electronic procedures to ensure the preservation of their rights and the provision of high-quality services, as part of its efforts to facilitate the procedures for the arrival of pilgrims from outside the Kingdom.
The Maqam platform services include knowing the local agents in the country of the pilgrims to issue the Umrah visa, which has a validity of 90 days since its issuance and allows pilgrims the freedom to move between Saudi cities to learn the cultural diversity of the Kingdom.
The services of the agent icon on the portal also include the ability to choose the travel path between Makkah, Jeddah, and Madinah, book airline tickets, book internal transportation services in the Kingdom, with the possibility of booking residential accommodation, and send a visa application to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Upon completing the reservation of services through the authorized agent, the pilgrim receives a reference number to complete the payment process online and via credit cards (VISA), to issue the visa through the unified national visa platform within 24 hours. — Saudi Gazette