Saudi Arabia increases visa fees for Umrah pilgrims

Pilgrims heading to Makkah for Umrah will have to cough out more money as Saudi Arabia increases charges for visa fees.

An additional 2,000SAR charge (approximately £400) on visas has been imposed for those who travelled for Umrah in the last Hijri year (1438).

The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah have not made an official announcement about its new policy, however Hajj and Umrah operators in the UK have been informed by their local embassies.

Prospective pilgrims around the world should contact their local embassies to find out if the fee applies to them.

The new fees come as Saudi Arabia struggles to fill the holes in its balance sheet as its oil revenue continues to decline.

The policy is apparently the latest in a string of new controversial measures introduced by Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman as part of his ambitious “2030 reform plan”, devised to reset the kingdom’s economic dependence away from oil revenue.

Recent examples include the hugely unpopular and expensive “Dependent Fee” to be paid for each non-Saudi, non-government employee, a 5% VAT tax to be introduced in coming months and the second recent increase in fuel prices.

Other recent policies have also been thought to be based on economic incentives, such as a slew of new fines for specific traffic offences, and the recent lift on the driving ban for some women.

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