Updated 31 May 2022
For the faithful, no journey is as rewarding as that of embarking on a pilgrimage to the almighty Allah’s terrestrial abode. The Umrah, or the minor pilgrimage, affords anyone with the inclination and the means of doing so to renew their faith and attain the blessings and forgiveness of their creator.
Traditionally, Pakistan has always been one of the countries with the highest number of Umrah pilgrims. But how has the COVID-19 pandemic and the latest entry requirements to Saudi Arabia affected Umrah 2022 for Pakistani pilgrims?
We’ve gathered all the essentials of Umrah for Pakistanis looking to perform the pilgrimage this year.
Can Pakistanis perform Umrah in 2022?
Yes, Saudi Arabia is currently issuing permits to foreign pilgrims wishing to perform the Umrah, including the ones from Pakistan. Additionally, the Saudi government has also lifted all COVID-related restrictions for international arrivals from essentially all countries including:
- Pilgrims are no longer needed to present a PCR test upon arrival
- Pilgrims no longer need to present proof of vaccination upon arrival, hence, unvaccinated pilgrims can perform Umrah at any time of their convenience.
- Children aged 5 and above can apply for an Umrah permit and pray at the Holy Rawdah.
Recently, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah 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.
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 2022?
Many Muslims prefer to perform Umrah during Ramadan. Especially since the holy month itself is believed to be a time where the Qur’an is first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad SAW, thus, Ramadan is marked as the 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 of expensive, since the cost of the Umrah package is expected to rise during Ramadan, especially on the last 10 days of Ramadan since people are wanting 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 will likely occur for Umrah operators in Pakistan 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.
What are the requirements of Umrah 2022?
There are two main requirements for people looking to perform the Umrah: an Umrah visa and permit. Here, we list all the requirements and steps to obtain both requirements for Pakistani pilgrims.
An Umrah visa allows holders to enter Saudi Arabia for up to 14 days with a validity period of 30 days since the date of issuance. Holders of the Umrah visa must complete the Umrah and ensure their departure from Saudi Arabia is within the allotted time.
Requirements of the Umrah visa are as follows:
- a completed original Umrah visa application form. This form can be obtained by sending a large, self-addressed envelope to your nearest Saudi consulate. However, it is advisable to enlist the help of a certified travel agent to ensure the process goes smoothly
- one recent passport-size color photograph with a white background. The entirety of the applicant’s face must be wholly visible visa and directly facing the camera. Side or angled views will not be accepted
- a passport with a minimum validity of six months from the date of the application
- a confirmed and non-refundable airline ticket. Departure from Saudi Arabia must be within two weeks from the date of entry
- a valid residency permit must be submitted if the applicant is not a national of the country he/she is applying from
- a vaccination certificate against Meningococcal Meningitis, Yellow Fever (if you are from one of the high-risk countries) and Polio (if you are from one of the high-risk countries) should be attached. The certificate of vaccination must have been issued at least 10 days prior to entry while not exceeding three years. The vaccination certificates must be carried by the pilgrim into Saudi Arabia. Note: COVID-19 vaccination certificate is required to enter Saudi Arabia, but it is not one of the requirements of the Umrah visa.
Additional requirements include:
- for those whose names do not reflect their Islamic belief, they must attach a certificate issued by a mosque or an Islamic center stating that the applicant is indeed a Muslim
After gathering all the requirements, you are strongly encouraged to enlist the services of an approved travel agent as listed on the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah’s official page to apply for your Umrah visa.
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 Eatmarna and Tawakkalna app.
However, Saudi authorities have recently announced a rule where all expatriates wishing to enter Makkah are required to first obtain an entry permit. This means that holders of tourist or visit visas wishing to perform Umrah may only do so after they have secured the Makkah entry permit.
This requirement will apply until the end of this year’s Hajj season.
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.
Entry permit to Makkah
The KSA’s General Directorate of Public Security has established a rule where all expatriates who wish to enter Makkah to get a permit prior to their arrival in the holy city. Here are the details of the required documents that they need to enter Makkah:
- An entry permit to work in holy sites issued by the competent authority
- A residency permit was issued from Makkah (Iqama)
- Umrah permit or Hajj permit
To obtain the Makkah permit, you can easily do so by visiting the website of Muqeem here. Or they can obtain it from the security control centers at the entry points to Makkah.
Important note: This requirement only apply until thIe end of the Hajj season this year.
Makkah Tower Hotel
Set in the heart of the 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 PKR 15,960 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 PKR 16,353 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 PKR 29,220 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
Price starts from PKR 32,224 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
Price starts from PKR 80,053 INR per night.
Note: Prices are accurate at the time of writing.
The Umrah permit is issued through the Eatmarna and Tawakkalna apps.
You can use the Eatmarna and Tawakkalna applications to pre-plan your Umrah and register for your permit. You can also identify the most suitable time to perform Umrah based on the crowd percentage and time of day.
According to the latest update, a verification of a person’s vaccination status is no longer required when issuing an Umrah permit and a permit to enter the two Holy Mosques. Although, a permit is still needed for performing Umrah and praying in the Holy Rawdah, the chambers where Prophet Mohammed is buried.
— Ministry of Hajj and Umrah (@MoHU_En) March 9, 2022
Muqeem arrival registration for Umrah pilgrims
Your vaccination status will first need to be registered on Saudi Arabia’s Muqeem portal at least 72 hours before departure to the Kingdom. Since Umrah pilgrims are categorized as short-term visitors, you would first need to register your arrival and vaccine certificate here.
For details on how you can register yourself on the arrival registration platform, please do refer to our dedicated article.
Umrah 2022 package in Pakistan
As per the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Hajj, you can find the list of approved Umrah travel agents in Pakistan as listed on the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah’s official page to apply for your Umrah visa.
Apart from applying and securing your Umrah visa, an approved travel agent will offer several types of Umrah packages to suit your needs and budget.
A typical Umrah package generally consists of a 7 to 14-day trip through the cities of Makkah and Madinah. For a 7-day package, the itinerary consists of a 4-night and 3-night stay in Makkah and Madinah respectively. A 14-day Umrah package typically consists of 8 nights in Makkah and 4 Nights in Madinah.
Additionally, an approved travel agency typically offers individual and group packages. There are also packages where you are required to share a room with fellow pilgrims.
Transportation is also something being included in a typical Umrah package. Upon arrival at the airport, pilgrims will be transported to their hotels and can easily visit the holy sites accordingly.
Finally, an approved travel agent will be able to guide you through the entirety of the process including Umrah visa application, securing your accommodation and transport, and registering your arrival. They will also be able to address any questions and concerns you may have about departing for the Umrah pilgrimage from Pakistan.