Umrah applicants’ biometrics before travel

Updated 24 November 2014

Umrah applicants’ biometrics before travel

Visa applicants for Umrah will soon have to record their biometrics before traveling to the Kingdom.
Under the new rule, which comes as part of efforts to streamline the visa process and reduce waiting time at entry points, biometrics will be recorded at select agencies through registration centers in foreign countries.
The new system has been a subject of contention among Umrah tour operators in Pakistan, Egypt and Jordan, but has yet to be introduced in India, Bangladesh and other countries with a large number of Umrah applicants.
Tour operators have opposed the biometric system, saying it would delay Umrah visas and increase costs for applicants who live in remote areas since they would have to travel to larger cities before getting their permits.
The problem is particularly pressing in Pakistan, which sends nearly 700,00 Umrah pilgrims to the Kingdom every year.
Scores of local tour operators working under the umbrella of the Travel Agents Association of Pakistan have opposed the new system.
The Jordan Society of Tourism and Travel Agents, meanwhile, has suspended Umrah visas for the current season in protest against the new measure.
Its President Shaher Hamdan said that the society would continue with this suspension until biometric data collection procedures are facilitated and amended for pilgrims.
Tour operators in Egypt have firmly opposed the measure, saying it would be a huge burden on pilgrims living in remote areas.
“We don’t know the exact details yet, but we know that processing costs will double and that pilgrims will have to approach a specific agency in Cairo and Alexandria to submit visa application forms,” Hisham H. Ali, an Egyptian expat from Jeddah, told Arab News.
Egyptian tour operators and officials from the country’s tourism ministry held a meeting with Saudi diplomats on Wednesday and requested them to postpone biometric registration until adequate arrangements were made, according to one report.
Operators in India and Bangladesh have not received word of the measures thus far, but will only process visas for Umrah pilgrims from December.
“We have not received any information about biometric requirements,” Adeeb Mohammed, managing director of Links travel, an agency that processes thousands of Umrah applications in Hyderabad every year, told Arab News.
Sources at travel agencies in Dhaka also echoed similar views.
Arab News tried to get comments from Hatim Kadi, undersecretary at the Haj Ministry, to no avail.


Misk Initiatives Center signs 12 deals to develop youth talent

Updated 15 November 2019

Misk Initiatives Center signs 12 deals to develop youth talent

  • MoUs with top firms such as Chinese tech giant Huawei, French oil major Total open new opportunities

RIYADH: The Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Foundation Misk Initiatives Center has signed 12 memorandums of understanding (MoU) on the sidelines of the Misk Global Forum in Riyadh with local and international companies to support and develop youth talent.

Among the companies were the Chinese tech giant Huawei, the French oil firm Total, the Emirati Federal Youth Authority, and the Ministry of Economy and Planning.

The agreements stipulated joint work between the two parties in the fields of talent development in Saudi Arabia and information and communications technology, in accordance with the National Transformation Program 2020 and the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. 

This initiative aims to find ways of cooperation and employment opportunities between the two parties.

The MoU signed between the center and the Emirati Federal Youth Authority provides for the enhancement of joint cooperation in support of youth. 

The two parties will seek to discuss future cooperation, to build a strategic partnership between the two parties in exploring potential cooperative opportunities and setting a framework for such cooperation, in addition to organizing the exchange of technologies and innovations through the joint organization of courses, forums and workshops.

The MoU aims at creating a specialized scientific dialogue between the two parties, conducting joint research at the institutes in the field of entrepreneurship and the skills of the future, considering launching joint initiatives, and examining the possibilities of cooperative programs based on the extensive experience of Misk and the Federal Youth Authority.

Misk’s Initiatives Center agreement with Total will promote joint cooperation, find training opportunities for Saudi talent at the company’s headquarters and facilities, and cooperate on educational programs that support entrepreneurship and an ecosystem for startup companies, especially in the fields of energy and technology.

The Misk Global Forum also witnessed the signing of a MoU with “Hub71” to promote learning and leadership among Saudi youth, and enhance opportunities for joint collaboration, in addition to two MoUs with 500 startups and seed stars “to promote joint cooperation between the two parties, to develop and grow the business of startups and provide them with the necessary
environment.”

Misk also signed a MoU with the Public Institution for Education and Global Leadership to promote joint cooperation and achieve the objectives of both sides, to support innovation initiatives that instill the entrepreneurial mindset of young people, as well as the establishment and organization of entrepreneurship approaches. 

Both parties agreed to focus on exploring potential collaborative opportunities related to the Entrepreneurship World Cup, and establish a competition with competitors coming from 170 countries.

Both parties also agreed to support international competitions aimed at identifying the best solutions in various fields and sectors, as well as exchanging programs on entrepreneurship and innovation.

The center has signed a MoU with the Saudi Industrial Development Fund to discuss the possibility of providing training programs and courses for the center’s employees of the Fund and the relevant authorities. In addition to discussing available opportunities for cooperative training within the Fund, and providing opportunities for participation and contribution of the Fund’s staff in Misk’s programs.

The MoU aims to explore the benefits of existing agreements between the two parties with international financial and educational institutions, in order to find opportunities that provide programs, training and educational courses, and granting cooperative trainings for Saudi youth in those global institutions.

The center also signed a MoU with the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), aiming to enhance joint cooperation on educational technology and its integration into the educational systems in the Islamic world.

An MoU with King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) will enhance the cooperation between the two parties in several initiatives, including academic development, training, entrepreneurship and innovation programs.

An MoU with Endeavor Saudi Arabia will support the Kingdom’s youth, enhance their talents and potential, stimulate economic growth, and find ways of cooperation between the two parties that serve their common interests.

The center’s MoU with the Ministry of Economy and Planning aims to spread awareness, provide new information on the education and training of human resources in the administrative and economic fields, youth empowerment, and coordinate efforts to raise their abilities.

The MoU aims to create cooperative training opportunities in local and international institutions with the purpose of workforce growth in the Kingdom’s economic sector, contributing to the development of national competencies in the economy, policies and procedures, strategic planning, in addition to providing job opportunities for graduates from areas that serve the interests of both parties and support the achievement of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.