Following the spread of the deadly coronavirus to other Asian countries, Saudi Arabia has temporarily suspended religious visits (Umrah) to the country. It has also banned travelers from the virus-hit countries, including Pakistan. If the situation persists, the Hajj this year could be severely affected. As per details, the Saudi authorities have directed all airlines to inform passengers of the development and await further orders.
The Ministry of Religious Affairs has suggested that Hajj costs may increase this year by over one hundred thousand rupees because of hike in the US dollar’s exchange rate and rising airfares. After this hike the total cost of government Hajj package would become around Rs550,000. A total of 179,000 people are going to perform Hajj this year.
The Saudi government has introduced a rule which obligates pilgrims to pay a tax of SAR 2000 for performing Umrah again. Under the new rule, an individual will only be able to avail the tax-free visa facility two years after their previous Umrah. The policy has been introduced to facilitate pilgrims heading to Saudi Arabia for the first time.