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Reopening of Saudi land border drives up number of umrah pilgrimage from Qatar

The increase in the number of pilgrims during Ramadan is expected to continue in the last 10 days of the month.

The number of pilgrims performing umrah during the current holy month of Ramadan has doubled, with more residents and families opting to drive to holy sites in Saudi Arabia due to the reopening of the land border crossing.

Qatar resident and mother of two, Sara made the long trip to Mecca via the land border with Saudi Arabia, opting out of travelling by air.

“It’s more cost effective to go by land when travelling with kids and also the convenience of having the car meant we had the flexibility to travel around more freely and visit a lot more places in Saudi Arabia,” she told Doha News.

Although Sara and her family have lived in Qatar for five years, this was the first such trip to Saudi Arabia.

“We couldn’t travel before because of the blockade so we didn’t really think about it. Once the blockade was lifted we began to plan our trip,” she added.

In a report to Qatar News Agency, hajj and umrah pilgrimage organisers backed such sentiments.

The professionals attributed the increase in demand for umrah to the opening of the land border between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. However, they also said cost played a significant factor in the increase.

Owner of ‘Hatem campaign for Hajj and Umrah’, Hatem Al Khalidi, explained that the cost of travel to perform the pilgrimage by land are much lower than flights, allowing more people access to the holy rituals.

“The price of the road trip ranges between QAR 2,100 and QAR 2,300, while the cost of the air trip ranges between QAR 3,500 and QAR 7,000, and its duration ranges between 4 and 5 days,” he said.

Samira Hussein Al Yafei, the owner of the ‘Tawaf campaign for Umrah’, added that the demand for the pilgrimage has seen an upward trend during Ramadan and that the rate of reservations compared to last year has increased by 100 percent.

She also noted that procedures related to obtaining umrah visas had been made easy by Saudi authorities on the other side of the border.

Majdi Rizk, director of the ‘Good campaign’ pointed to a spike in numbers for pilgrimage during the upcoming last 10 days of Ramadan, deemed to be the most spiritual of the month.

For this reason, Rizk said he expects prices to rise during the last 10 days as a result of the increase in demand during this period.

Umrah requirements

Umrah is available to Muslims of all ages without exception. Obtaining the umrah visa requires submitting a copy of the residence card in the State of Qatar, a copy of the passport, and a personal photo.

Following changes by the Saudi Ministry of Tourism, holders of a tourist visa to Saudi Arabia, which includes all residents of the Gulf countries of all professions, can also perform umrah