Riyadh (Agencies): Citizens of Saudi Arabia can invite Muslim friends overseas to perform Umrah on new “personal visit visas,” the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah announced on Thursday.
In a social media post on Twitter, the ministry explained that the visas, which can be obtained online will be available for single entry or multiple entry.
In addition to allowing visitors to perform the minor pilgrimage in Makkah and visit the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, personal visit visa holders will also be allowed to go on “tourist trips to all regions and cities of Saudi Arabia.”
The ministry further clarified that the “one-trip personal visa” has a validity of 90 days with a 90-day stay, while the validity of the “multi-trip personal visa” may extend to 365 days, permitting a 90-day stay. Saudi citizens can apply for the “personal visa” through the visa platform of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The news was followed by an announcement on Friday by the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques that it was ready to receive the first worshippers of this year’s Umrah season, which is set at least a few weeks after Hajj to allow Hajj pilgrims to return home and avoid congestion in the holy places and airports.
Plans for an increase in tourism is in line with the kingdom’s Vision 2030, which aims to diversity the country’s economy. According to Arab News, a massive boost in religious tourism in the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah is also planned, with the number of pilgrims expected to rise to 30 million by 2030.