The Umrah visa for Pakistani pilgrims has been extended to 90 days, and more pilgrim sites in Makkah and Madinah will be established to enhance religious tourism in Saudi Arabia, according to Dr Tawfiq Bin Fawzan Al Rabiah, the Saudi minister for Hajj and Umrah.
During a joint press conference with interim Minister for Religious Affairs Aneeq Ahmed, Dr Tawfiq revealed the Saudi government’s decision.
Pilgrims from Pakistan will be assisted throughout their religious trip, according to the minister, who also assured a close working partnership between Pakistani and Saudi officials in this regard.
Another 100 historical and religious sites are being opened in the two holy cities to stimulate religious tourism, he noted. Dr Tawfiq also discussed Riyadh’s efforts to lower pilgrim Hajj fees, as both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have brotherly relations.
During his visit to Pakistan, the minister stated that he discussed several key subjects, and that the civil aviation authorities of each country inked an agreement to enhance the number of flights between the two countries.
His Pakistani counterpart urged that Pakistanis over the age of 65 who wish to perform Hajj and Umrah be excused from the biometric requirement. He stated that he requested alternative locations for Pakistan Houses in Makkah and Madinah because to an expansion in the precincts of the two holy mosques.
Meanwhile, Dr Tawfiq met separately with President Arif Alvi and interim Prime Minister Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar. Dr. Alvi advocated for further expanding bilateral ties with Saudi Arabia, particularly in the economic sphere.
He stated that Pakistan values its relations with the kingdom, which are built on shared faith, history, and people-to-people relationships. Dr. Alvi stressed the importance of expanding bilateral commerce by highlighting major investment areas in Pakistan’s IT, renewable energy, industrial, and infrastructure development sectors.
The president congratulated Saudi Arabia for making good arrangements for Hajj this year and hoped that it would expedite the acquisition of Pakistan House in Madina using the proceeds from the demolition of two Pakistan Houses.
He praised the monarchy for its unwavering support for vital Muslim concerns, particularly the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, Palestine, and Afghanistan, through the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) forum. He lauded Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s leadership in normalising relations with Iran.
Later, the Saudi minister summoned the caretaker prime minister, who greeted the delegation and expressed satisfaction with the kingdom’s favourable trajectory in bilateral relations. He praised Mohammed Bin Salman’s vision and stated that Pakistan would always be a valued partner of Saudi Arabia.
He thanked the Saudi leadership for making excellent arrangements for Hujjaj (pilgrims) from all over the world during this year’s Hajj season, particularly Pakistanis.
He hoped that Pakistani Hajj and Umrah pilgrims would continue to receive special treatment from the Saudi side. He thanked Saudi Arabia for its interest in investment opportunities in Pakistan under the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC).