2.18 million Umrah visas issued
2.18 million Umrah visas issued
According to the Ministry of Haj, 1.8 million pilgrims have arrived and 500,000 more people with visas are still to come. They are expected to arrive in the coming days. Incoming pilgrims include 455,000 Egyptians and 333,000 Pakistanis.
“The Umrah traffic has been experiencing a slowdown; last year marked a decline by about 250,000 pilgrims compared to the previous year,” said Marwan Shabaan, head of the Haj and Umrah Committee.
“This decrease is due to the developing conditions in the region, including the low currency exchange, the economic condition of the people, the political and security situation in the world and the instability in the region. These factors are affecting Umrah visitors.”
Shaaban believes that Umrah visitors will increase during the coming Ramadan, especially if the ministry raises the visitors’ ceiling as opposed to previous years when the cap was put at 500,000 in the holy month of fasting.
He hoped the ceiling will be raised to enable maximum number of pilgrims to travel during this Umrah season.
Waleed Abu Saba, an investor in Umrah and hospitality services, said this season has been the worst compared to the past years. ‘We expected this season to compensate the losses from the previous season when numbers were low because of the development projects and expansion of the Haram in Makkah.
During this season, a number of countries like Yemen, Tunisia and Bangladesh exited from the list as no visas were issued to any nationals from these countries despite the fact that these countries were prominent in last Umrah season’s list. They included 100,000 Bangladeshis, 12,000 Tunisians and 30,000 Yemenis.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman will patronize the launch of the Qiddiya Project
JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman will patronize on Wednesday the launch of the “Qiddiya” Project which is the new entertainment, sports and cultural destination in the Kingdom.
The project will be built in Al-Giddiya area, some 40 km west of the capital, Riyadh.
The foundation stone ceremony of will be attended by a host of local and international officials, as well as a number of decision-makers, major investors and representatives of the regional and international companies, marking the launch of the project’s formal infrastructure. The first phase will be completed by 2022.
In a statement to Saudi Press Agency (SPA), Dr. Fahd bin Abdullah Tounsi, Secretary General of the Foundation Council of the Qiddiya Project of the Public Investment Fund (PIF) said that the inauguration of this vital project is a real translation of the aspirations of the Kingdom’s wise leadership and its relentless efforts to develop mega projects that would contribute effectively to achieve many direct and indirect economic returns, and to advance sustainable development for the benefit of the homeland and the citizen, in accordance with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.
“About two-thirds of the Kingdom’s population is under the age of 35. There is a great need for Qiddiya Project to provide them with entertainment. The project will save about $30 billion, which will be used to develop the domestic economy and create new job opportunities for Saudi youths,” he added.
For his part, Michael Reininger, Chief Executive of Qiddiya, said, “we are delighted to be a key contributor to boost the Kingdom’s economic development and investment, not only for the entertainment industry but also to projects that will develop the capabilities the young Saudi people.”