Civil Society Urges Buhari to Intervene on Saudi Impose 2,000 SR Hajj/Umrah Fee
A civil society organization, Independent Hajj Reporters, IHR, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to appeal to Saudi Arabia to waive the SR2,000 tax imposed on visa for Umrah and Hajj pilgrims for Nigeria pilgrims.
The waiver, if granted, can enable more Nigerian Muslims to perform Hajj/Umrah with ease.
The new visa rule was released in August 2016 and became operational on October 2 2016.
It states that "a one-time entry visa fee will be SR2,000, but the state will bear this fee if a visitor is coming to the Kingdom for the first time to perform Hajj or Umrah.
"A six-month multiple-entry visa cost 3,000 Saudi Riyals (SR), a one year multiple-entry visa cost SR5000, while a two-year multiple-entry visa cost SR8000".
This was contained in a statement jointly signed by IHR national coordinator Ibrahim Muhammed and Publicity Secretary, Abubakar Mahmoud
IHR has observed that religious Ministry of Pakistan recently informed the country's Senate that Saudi Arabia has agreed to abolish Umrah tax of SR 2,000 on Pakistan Pilgrims.
The approval, followed a request made by Pakistani Prime Minister, Imram Khan when he visited Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salman recently.
Pakistan is not only the country that has enjoyed this waiver as Egypt and Turkey Umrah repeaters within one year are also excluded from paying the SR 2,000.
The statement said that "Nigeria occupies number one position in Africa in terms of numbers of pilgrims that perform Hajj/ Umrah and therefore deserve special consideration from the Saudi Arabia government.
"In addition, the excellent hajj arrangements by Nigeria in recent years have been acknowledged by way of commendations by Saudi Arabian government and therefore deserve a special treatment as extended to other countries mentioned above".
"In view of the above, we urge Mr. President to on behalf of millions of Nigerian Muslim Ummah plead with Saudi Arabia to waive the SR2,000 Hajj/Umrah fee for repeaters so as allow millions of intending pilgrims to fulfill their religious obligations".
The statement adds that "there has been uneasiness on the part of Tour Operators and intending Hajj/Umrah Pilgrims over the new rule.
According to the new policy, whoever performs Umrah in consecutive Hijri years will have to pay a charge on the second time they apply for a visa.
“So that means if one goes to Umrah at the beginning of a Hijri year, they would have to actually wait for virtually two full years before they can do another one without paying the additional fee.
Apart from the SR2000 Visa Fee, there have been increases across the board in all hajj/umrah expenses by authorities in Saudi Arabia.
The new levies include accommodation as well as a new VAT tax of 5% on everything paid for in the Kingdom.
"It is our hope that Mr. President will heed our call and intervene on behalf of millions of intending pilgrims". The statement added.
Independent Hajj Reporters
21st October 2018