Unprecedented Umrah rush

Updated 30 December 2015
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Unprecedented Umrah rush

RIYADH: Makkah witnessed an unprecedented crowd of Umrah pilgrims this week with hotels booked to capacity and worshippers praying in the courtyards of the holy mosque and on adjoining streets.

Five and four-star hotels are charging SR550 a night, while small hotels with limited facilities and no services were are charging SR200.
Worshippers who went to the Grand Mosque an hour ahead of adhan (call for prayer), were denied entry because of congestion. They were seen praying either in the courtyard of the Haram or on the Ajyad Street and on the Jabal Al-Kaaba Road.
Pilgrims from Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey, Egypt, Singapore, the Philippines, Indian, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and neighboring Arab countries were seen in large numbers.
A hotelier told Arab News that because of the school holidays, a large number of local pilgrims also joined the worshippers. “ Some of them come on a week's package organized by the Kingdom's Umrah operators.
Umrah travel operators in the capital have drastically reduced the weekend pilgrim package to SR100 from its original price of SR250 during the Haj season.
A return fare from Riyadh to Makkah by a luxury coach including accommodation in the holy city costs SR100 per pilgrim and there is an additional charge of SR50, if the pilgrim opts to visit the Prophet's Mosque in Madinah on way to Makkah. On an additional payment of SR100 per pilgrim, accommodation could be extended to a four-star hotel in the holy city.
A travel operator in the city said the weekend package to Makkah and Madinah begins at 4 p.m. in Riyadh on Thursday and ends midnight Saturday. Each family is given a large room while bachelors are accommodated on a sharing basis with three pilgrims to a room. Children under 12 are charged half the fare. Accommodation is provided in a three star hotel.
There are nearly 300 Umrah travel operators spread out in the capital but these are largely concentrated on the city center of Batha.
According to Haj Minister Bandar Hajjar, the Kingdom is expected to receive more than 6 million Umrah pilgrims during the current season and the number is likely to exceed past figures.
“All arrangements are in place and the ministry is ready to welcome the visitors to the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque,” he said .
“The ministry has deployed all its staff and personnel to serve the guests of God and facilitate their arrival to perform the religious rituals smoothly and leave the Kingdom during the coming months without any accumulation in their numbers,” said Hajjar.


Saudi crown prince meets with Dubai crown prince

Updated 27 May 2019
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Saudi crown prince meets with Dubai crown prince

JEDDAH: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, crown prince of Dubai, met on Sunday to review the "brotherly historical relations" between the Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
They also discussed the promising opportunities for cooperation in various fields, SPA said.
The meeting was attended by top officials from both sides.
Before the meeting, King Salman received the Dubai crown prince at Al-Safa Palace in Makkah and had iftaar together, along with other officials including  Kuwait’s National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim and the chief of the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Sudais. 
King Salman is spending the last ten days of Ramadan in the holy city of Makkah.