Anxiety as Saudi refuses to issue Umrah visas to Nigerian Muslims as Ramadan enters day 12 - Watchtower media

Anxiety as Saudi refuses to issue Umrah visas to Nigerian Muslims as Ramadan enters day 12

Thousands of Nigerian pilgrims are facing the possibility of missing out on the 2024 Ramadan Umrah pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia due to the authorities' suspension of Umrah visa issuance. The decision has sparked concerns among potential pilgrims, especially as Ramadan reaches its 12th day. Hajj and Umrah operators are also grappling with significant financial losses stemming from hotel bookings in Makkah and Madinah. Numerous flights scheduled to transport pilgrims for the Umrah pilgrimage have been either canceled or rescheduled.
For example, a flight that was supposed to fly from Kano to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, carrying over 300 intending pilgrims, was grounded due to visa-related issues, as reported by Daily Trust.

Participating in the Umrah pilgrimage during Ramadan is a common tradition in Nigeria and other countries, where Muslims aim to spend the final 10 days of fasting in Saudi Arabia. However, this year's plans are in jeopardy due to the Saudi authorities' decision to halt the issuance of visas to intending pilgrims. The move to suspend visa issuance by Saudi authorities is aimed at reducing overcrowding during the holy month of Ramadan.

In Kano, hundreds of intending Umrah pilgrims are awaiting entry visas. Some travel agents attribute the delays to a new visa policy introduced by the Saudi authorities. The new policy specifies that visas have a three-month validity and allow for a two-week stay, leading to confusion among pilgrims.
Haruna Ismail, the Kano zonal chairman of the Association of Hajj and Umrah Operators of Nigeria (AHUON), explained that many pilgrims had obtained visas since the month of Rajab but postponed their entry until Ramadan due to the visa's extended validity period. However, some pilgrims exceeded their allowed stay duration in the kingdom, unaware of the visa policy.

Abdulaziz Sabitu Mohammed, AHUON vice chairman, disclosed that more than 7,000 Umrah pilgrims have obtained visas but have yet to enter the kingdom. He mentioned ongoing discussions with the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) to address the situation.

Intending pilgrims are resorting to desperate measures, such as paying high sums of up to N2 million for visas. Babangida Danazumi expressed frustration over the delays, while Sadi Hamisu Ala highlighted the inconvenience caused by the uncertainty surrounding visa issuance.

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