Travelling abroad for Hajj and Umrah
On 22 June 2020, the UAE Hajj Affairs Office (HAO) announced that it will not participate in the Hajj season of the Islamic year 1441 coinciding with the year 2020 of the Gregorian calendar. This announcement came after the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia decided that a very limited number of pilgrims, who already reside in the kingdom, would be able to perform it.
Read news coverage on WAM.
All desirous Hajj and Umrah pilgrims need to go through an operator licensed for this purpose. Check with the UAE's General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments (Awqaf) for licensed operators. The quota of pilgrims that can go to Hajj is limited; therefore, it is wise to book in advance.
Check the portal of the General Authority for Islamic Affairs and Endowments for Hajj registration.
The Hajj/Umrah tour operator will apply for a visa on your behalf. The Ministry of Hajj and Umra of the KSA issues visas.
Hajj visas are issued from mid Shawwal until 25th day of the month of Dhu Al Qadah. Hajj visas are valid until 15th day of the month of Muharram.
Hajj visas are valid only for the holy cities of Makkah and Medina.
Women below 45 years of age need to show proof of Mahram (accompaniment of a male relative) to obtain a visa.
Booking flights and hotel
The tour operator will book flights and hotel for you. The cost of Hajj and Umrah package will depend on the grade of accommodation and services, proximity to the Holy Mosque, mode of transportation and airline travel class.
All pilgrimage operators are required to provide the pilgrims with suitable residence licensed by the Ministry of Hajj and the Civil Defence in the KSA. The accommodation should conform to the standard set by the authorities in terms of quality, hygiene, age of buildings, accessibility and capacity.
Vaccinations and health certificates
Read about health during Hajj.
Signing a contract
Pilgrims and tour operators should sign a contract prepared by the Department of Hajj and Umrah at Awqaf. In case of any dispute, a complaint can be filed with the Department of Hajj and Umrah or with Complaints Committee of the official Hajj delegation.
How to arrive in the KSA
You can arrive into the KSA through one of the following airports:
- King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah
- Prince Mohammad Bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madina
GCC nationals and UAE expatriate residents can enter the KSA by roadways; though, as a group with travelling through the tour operator.
Your tour operator is obliged to provide you detailed information about the modes of transportation.
Bodies in the UAE responsible for Hajj and Umrah affairs
Department of Hajj and Umrah at the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments (Awqaf) of the UAE is responsible for establishing and reinforcing regulations with regard to contractors operating Hajj and Umrah tours and pilgrims' affairs.
The Official Hajj Delegation of the UAE is responsible to look after the affairs of UAE pilgrims in the KSA. Key services provided by the Official Hajj Delegation include preaching, providing free healthcare services, preparing for contingencies and conducting inspections at pilgrim accommodations in Makkah, Medina, Mina and Arafat.
Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department in Dubai and Sharjah Islamic Affairs in Sharjah coordinate with the federal Awqaf.
Bodies in the KSA responsible for Hajj and Umrah affairs
Ministry of Hajj and Umrah is responsible for pilgrims' affairs. It offers many eServices for pilgrims of Hajj and Umrah.
Hajj for GCC nationals
GCC nationals do not need a visa to travel to the KSA; however, they must obtain the official Hajj permit to enter the KSA.
This entitles them to the 'express Hajj' packages where pilgrims arrive in Makkah right before rituals begin and return promptly after they end. The package can be arranged through Hajj tour operators.
Free Hajj for special cases
There are many organisations in the UAE that organise free Hajj trips for UAE nationals. The organisations include:
These organisations offer free Hajj visits to those who cannot afford the cost, the elderly, widowed and divorced women and those whose applications were not approved in the previous years. In addition, applicants should not have performed Hajj previously and should be over 40 years old.
Applicants should submit their applications through the UAE's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, UAE embassies abroad or an organisation approved by the foundation.
Links from the UAE
Links from the KSA
Text is compiled from the websites of:
Hajj and Umrah visa rules and procedures might change depending on the policies of the KSA Government. You are advised to check with the Saudi embassy in the UAE.