Riyadh ponders permitting women to perform Hajj without male guardian

- A Monitor Report01 Nov, 2019 | 896 Views|-+
Riyadh : The Saudi government is currently mulling the possibility of allowing women to perform Hajj without a male guardian.

At present, women wishing to perform Umrah or Hajj have to be accompanied by male guardian while travelling to Saudi or meet him on arrival in the kingdom.

Women over the age of 45 may travel without a guardian if they are in an organised tour group. However, those travelling with a group must submit a notarised no objection letter from a male guardian.

Following several reforms in recent months, the kingdom's ministry of Hajj and Umrah is now also conducting studies to issue visit visas that will permit women to travel without a male guardian for both tourism and pilgrimage purposes.

Last month, it was announced that the kingdom was restructuring its visa system for pilgrims travelling to the kingdom for Hajj and Umrah.

Under the new system, pilgrims arriving for Hajj and Umrah can book the entire package online through the Maqam portal.

Almost 1.1 million people used the portal in its trial phase last year.

Pilgrims will be provided with a reference number when they buy a package from an online platform, which will allow them to obtain an e-visa.

The visa fees have also been fixed at SAR300 (about USD 80) while fees for repeat Umrah visits have been cancelled.

The fee is a significant cut from the previous cost of SAR2,000 (about USD 540) for repeating an Umrah pilgrimage within three years.

"This also shows kingdom's readiness to receive the increasing number of Hajj and Umrah pilgrims through huge infrastructure projects and improving the system of services in Makkah, Madinah and the holy sites," Mohammed Benten, Minister of Hajj and Umrah, said.

The ministry is seeking to issue Umrah visas for 30 million pilgrims by 2030.

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