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Updated March 2023
Umrah is one of the important pilgrimages that Muslims may perform at any time during the year in Saudi Arabia. This pilgrimage is a part of the grand pilgrimage, Hajj, which is performed annually.
We’ve gathered all the important information that you need to perform Umrah from UAE in this article. Read further to find out.
Umrah from UAE news 2023
Ahead of Umrah season 2023, the Saudi authorities have issued new advisory guidelines for pilgrims visiting the Mekkah.
According to these guidelines, pilgrims should perform Umrah only once in the season so that others too get the chance to perform the holy ritual. They should book their Umrah slots online through the Nusuk or Tawakkalna apps. Once booked, pilgrims must stick to the date and time of their appointment.
The authorities have confirmed that a ‘sufficient’ number of slots have been made available for the pilgrims, and dates have been arranged in coordination with the Ministry of Hajj and the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques.
The Kingdom had previously announced that Muslims can also use the nusuk.sa website to electronically book associated travel arrangements and receive the appropriate visas and permits to perform Umrah or visit holy sites.
Moreover, religious tourists have been allowed to arrive and depart on scheduled flights through any international airport in the kingdom.
For more details about the app, please refer to our dedicated article below.
Do I need an Umrah visa from UAE?
Minister of Hajj and Umrah has clarified that individuals who reside in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are currently permitted to undertake Umrah using an electronic visit visa without the requirement for any particular occupation. Any expatriate and their first-degree relatives can visit Makkah, provided they acquire a three-month residency permit and a six-month valid passport.
The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah also allowed women aged 18 to 65 to perform Umrah without a male guardian or “mahram”, but on the condition that they are a part of a group. They are also required to be vaccinated for one dose (partially vaccinated) and free of any diseases.Book Cheap Flights to Saudi Arabia
However, travellers arriving on visit visas (including Umrah pilgrims) must have medical insurance to cover any COVID-19-related treatment costs during their stay.
When is the best time for Umrah 2023?
Many Muslims prefer to perform Umrah during Ramadan. Especially since the holy month itself is believed to be a time when the Qur’an was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad SAW; thus, Ramadan is marked as a month full of blessings. That is why all good deeds are encouraged during Ramadan, including Umrah.
However, visiting Umrah during Ramadan can be a little bit expensive since the cost of the Umrah package is expected to rise during Ramadan, especially on the last 10 days of Ramadan since people want to spend the last days of Ramadan in the holy cities of Makkah and Medina. A significant rise in cost has been reported for Umrah packages from Umrah operators in Saudi Arabia from SAR110 to SAR200.
The same case occurs for Umrah operators in the UAE as well, considering Saudi Arabia now has established the Value Added Tax (VAT) to 15%, foreign exchange rate and other aspects would make the cost of Umrah packages rise by 10 to 15 per cent.
What are the requirements for Umrah 2023?
Umrah age requirements
Saudi Arabia has stipulated the minimum age requirement for Umrah pilgrims. Children aged 5 years old and above can obtain an official entry permit to perform Umrah. However, children should be accompanied by their parents and must obtain proof that they are not infected or have made contact with COVID-19 patients if they wish to enter the Grand Mosque.
Umrah testing requirements
All vaccinated foreign pilgrims are now allowed to enter Saudi Arabia for Umrah without having to provide a negative PCR or rapid antigen test result before departure to the Kingdom. The PCR test result is only required for pilgrims that have not yet been vaccinated. Additionally, travellers arriving on visit visas must have medical insurance to cover any COVID-19-related treatment costs during their stay.
Umrah vaccine requirements
While Saudi Arabia has lifted most COVID-19-related restrictions, pilgrims looking to perform the Umrah are advised to carry proof of vaccination while they are in the Kingdom.
The approved vaccines are:
For holders of Umrah visas vaccinated with vaccines other than the ones mentioned above, quarantine may be mandatory.
Source: وزارة الحج والعمرة – الأسئلة الشائعة (haj.gov.sa)
Apart from the COVID vaccine, there are a few more vaccine requirements that foreign pilgrims have to pay attention to before their arrival in Saudi Arabia:
Yellow Fever vaccine: All foreign pilgrims arriving from countries or areas at risk of yellow fever must present a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate showing the person was vaccinated at least 10 days and no more than 10 years before their arrival.
Meningococcal Meningitis vaccine: All foreign pilgrims have to be vaccinated against meningitis at least ten days and no more than three years before their arrival in Saudi Arabia.
Polio vaccine: All foreign pilgrims from polio-endemic countries and re-established transmission countries have to at least receive one dose of Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) at least six weeks before their arrival in Saudi Arabia. They will have to present their proof of vaccination upon their arrival, and they will also receive one more dose of OPV during their arrival.
Seasonal Flu Shot: The Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia recommends all foreign pilgrims be vaccinated against seasonal influenza before their arrival in KSA. Pregnant women, the elderly, and individuals with underlying health conditions are highly recommended to take the Seasonal Flu Shot before their arrival.
For more information regarding the Umrah vaccine requirements, refer to the article below:
Umrah vaccine registration
An individual’s vaccination status will first need to be registered on Saudi Arabia’s Muqeem portal at least 72 hours before departure to the Kingdom.
The vaccination certificates are required to be attested by the official health authorities from the origin country of travellers. This can be the Ministry of Health or an authorized health authority. The original certificate needs to be carried upon travelling to/from the Kingdom.
All information will be verified prior to boarding and at the entry points. Failure to comply with these requirements will result in entry prevention and other legal consequences.
Umrah quarantine requirements
In line with Saudi Arabia’s latest Umrah entry requirements, no quarantine will be necessary for all foreign pilgrims fully vaccinated with Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, and Janssen.
For those who have had one dose of the following vaccines:
they will be subject to institutional quarantine for three days and must submit a PCR test certificate after 48 hours from the date of institutional quarantine.
Social distancing and mask-wearing
The Hajj and Umrah authorities have lifted the social distancing measures in the Grand Holy Mosque, the Prophet’s Holy Mosque and all other mosques. Note that mask-wearing, though not required outdoors, is still required to be worn inside mosques and other indoor facilities
What type of visa is needed for Umrah?
Foreign pilgrims may apply for either the Umrah visa or the Umrah e-visa to embark on the religious journey.
Recently, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah announced recently that pilgrims coming from the UK, Tunisia, Kuwait, Bangladesh, and Malaysia can now register for a visa by submitting their facial and fingerprint details through a smartphone app called the Saudi Visa Bio app. Procedures for issuing Umrah visas electronically will be completed based on biometric details before a pilgrim’s arrival in the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah.
Applicants can now scan their passports to confirm their identity, then submit a full-face picture from the front camera and scan their fingerprints.
Saudi Arabia has recently extended the validity of the Umrah from 30 days to 90 days. This new arrangement allows pilgrims to move about freely within Saudi Arabia without any restraints. Pilgrims do not need another tourist visa to travel across the Kingdom and can move easily between Makkah and Madinah, or any other city around the Kingdom, by train, bus or car during their stay.
As per the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, pilgrims are encouraged to contact an approved tourism company or agency in their country of residence to obtain the service package, complete the visa requirements, and book an appointment for Umrah and prayer in the Ar-Rawdhah Ash-Shareefah. The validity of the Umrah visa has now been extended from one month to three months.
Alternatively, pilgrims may also arrange their Umrah trip directly through any of the approved platforms listed on the Maqam portal.
Visit visa for Umrah in 24 hours
Umrah seekers outside Saudi Arabia may apply for their Umrah visa individually, with the issuance time taking up to 24 hours. As mentioned, Umrah seekers may apply for the E-visa at the Maqam portal.
Can I perform Umrah using a tourist visa?
Normally, yes, you can. Everyone visiting Saudi Arabia on a tourist visa may obtain an Umrah permit by applying through the Nusuk App. However, since the United Arab Emirates does not qualify to apply for the Saudi e-Visa, the residents of the UAE who wish to perform Umrah in the KSA should apply for the visa at the nearest Saudi Arabia Embassy in their country.
Once the Hajj season is over, performing Umrah on a tourist visa does offer its own advantages, such as a longer stay period, permission for multiple entries, and the freedom to choose your own hotel for Umrah.
Here are our top picks of hotels in Makkah and Madinah that you can book to ensure suitable accommodation.
Makkah Tower Hotel
Set in the heart of Makkah overlooking the Masjid al-Haram, the Makkah Tower Hotel offers a range of excellent rooms and suites set in a prime location. Enjoy a host of premium amenities, including excellent dining and majestic views from the panoramic glass lifts.
Distance to Masjid al-Haram: less than 1 kilometer/1-minute walk
Price: From AED 325 per night
Pullman ZamZam Makkah
The Pullman ZamZam Makkah hotel is an iconic 5-star hotel that regularly welcomes Umrah and Hajj pilgrims with Hijazi hospitality. The hotel provides pilgrims with partial views over the ever-inspiring Kaaba and the Masjid Al Haram. Amenities include an excellent in-room dining experience featuring international and oriental specialities and facilities for the disabled.
Distance to Masjid al-Haram: less than 1 kilometer/1-minute walk
Price: From AED 333 per night
Umrah pilgrims will definitely be able to take advantage of the hotel’s close proximity to both the Masjid al-Haram and the Kaaba. Conrad Makkah features a fusion of contemporary and traditional Islamic architecture and a range of dining options serving Arabic and international cuisine, a fitness centre, and light-filled meeting spaces.
Distance to Masjid al-Haram: less than 1 kilometer/3-minute walk
Price: From AED 595 per night
Crowne Plaza Madinah
The hotel is in proximity to Masjid al-Nabawi and Holy Rawdah. Pilgrims can walk or take a free shuttle directly to the entrances of the Prophet’s Holy Mosque. The hotel concierge can help with suggestions on restaurants, markets and shopping malls in nearby areas in Madinah.
Distance to Prophet’s Holy Mosque: 1.1 kilometer/6-minute walk
Prices start from AED 1,049 per night.
Madinah Hilton is a two-minute walk from the Masjid al-Nabawi and Holy Rawdah. It is located at a 25 minutes distance from the airport and has shops, 2 restaurants and 1 café. The hotel also provides a range of kids’ amenities upon request.
Distance to Prophet’s Holy Mosque: 2.5 kilometre/16-minute walk
Prices start from AED 1,758 per night.
Note: Hotel and accommodation prices are accurate at the time of writing.
While entry to the Grand Mosque no longer requires a permit, Umrah pilgrims still require a permit to perform Umrah and pray in the Holy Rawdah, the chamber where Prophet Mohammed is buried.
Umrah permit through Nusuk App
The Saudi authorities have launched the integrated electronic platform dubbed Nusuk to serve as the new gateway for pilgrims looking to make their way to the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah and beyond. Additionally, new features and functionalities have also been added to the Nusuk app. Users will be able to apply for an Umrah visa and permit, entry to the Rawdah As Sheerafah, and numerous others.
Anyone interested in downloading the Nusuk app may do so at the Appstore and Playstore.
For more detail on how you can obtain the Umrah permit, please consult our dedicated article below.
Please note that the Umrah permit will be immediately cancelled if:
- the individual is infected with COVID-19
- the individual had been in contact with an infected person
- the visa holder does not enter the KSA 6 hours before the Umrah booking date
Umrah 2023 package in UAE
You can book your Umrah package from one of the Saudi Arabia-approved travel agents for the UAE of your choice. The prices vary depending on which package you choose. Here are a few estimates:
Overland travel (average cost)
The current average price is around AED 1,800 to AED 2,000. The costs include three-star accommodation, meals on the bus and a bus fee from Sharjah, Dubai or Al Ain.
Air travel (average cost)
Umrah packages by air cost approximately AED 4,000. The price covers three-star accommodation, airport transfers, visa and flight tickets. Food can be included in the packages at an extra cost. There is also an option to upgrade the accommodation to five-star accommodation with an additional cost based on availability and proximity. Visa costs of AED 700 will be excluded, provided the pilgrims have acquired a valid visa.
Please note that the prices are for the first week of March 2023. They will likely go up as Ramadan approaches.
For more details on Umrah packages from the UAE, visit our article on Umrah Packages UAE 2023: What to Know Before Booking Your Umrah Packages From UAE This Year.