As reported by Saudi Gazette, the Saudi Arabian authorities have officially announced the cancellation of the “Host Umrah” scheme.
What is Umrah Host Scheme?
The Host Umrah Scheme is a scheme designed to allow Saudi nationals and expatriates to bring and accommodate three to five foreign pilgrims during their Umrah pilgrimage in the Kingdom.
The spokesman for the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah of Saudi Arabia Hisham Bin Saeed said that the Umrah host scheme that had been implemented for the past three years was officially canceled and would not be implemented again in the future.
According to the rules under the scheme, it is known that a citizen of Saudi Arabia can host any Muslim who comes from outside the Kingdom. Meanwhile, expatriates are regulated to only host their first-degree relatives performing Umrah to the Kingdom.
To facilitate the scheme, the Ministry will usually issue visas to residents who act as hosts based on their civil records, while foreigners who come as Umrah pilgrims from abroad will be given residence permits (iqama).
The scheme also obliges every citizen or resident who acts as the host to properly care for and serve the “Guests of Allah SWT” who make the Umrah pilgrimage to the Kingdom, with the possibility to repeat the process of hosting three times a year.
Although the Saudi authorities have yet to provide a statement regarding the reasons for the cancellation of the scheme it should be noted that the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah announced earlier that it had canceled the visa for the Umrah host but the Ministry said that it would announce through its official channels if there were any updates regarding this matter.
Previously, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah had also stated that the Umrah host visa is subject to the standards and requirements that regulate it. And emphasized that it will not be implemented and there is no specific time for its activation.