In a press conference following the meeting, the Minister confirmed that his official visit to Morocco reflected the deep, historic and fraternal relations between the two countries. It also highlighted the continued growth in various areas of cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Morocco, which is strongly supported by the two countries’ leadership.
The meeting was attended by Saudi Ambassador to Morocco Abdallah bin Sa ‘ad al-Gharri, as well as a high-level delegation representing the Government and the private sector, focusing on enhancing the pilgrims’ experience.
This agreement aims to enhance the experience of pilgrims visiting the Kingdom and strengthen the ties between the two nations. The agreement includes various measures such as extending the Umrah season, facilitating visa issuance, and improving air transportation. Below are details of this agreement and its implications for the pilgrimage experience in Saudi Arabia.
Extending the Umrah Season
One of the key aspects of the agreement is the extension of the Umrah season in Saudi Arabia. Previously, the Umrah season lasted for a specific period, but now it has been extended to ten months each year. This extension provides more flexibility for pilgrims and visitors from Morocco to plan their trips and perform the Umrah at their convenience.
Expedited Visa Issuance
To streamline the visa issuance process, Saudi Arabia has inaugurated the Saudi Visa Services Center (Tasheer) in Morocco. This center, affiliated with the Saudi Company for Visa and Travel Solutions (SVTS), aims to expedite visa issuance within 24 hours. It receives applications, registers vital information, and facilitates the entire process until the ticket is issued. The center has a capacity of serving 250 applicants per day, and there are plans to open additional centers in other cities to cater to more clients.
Extended Stay for Umrah Performers
Under the new agreement, pilgrims who obtain Umrah visas can now reside and move freely between cities in Saudi Arabia for up to three months. This is a significant extension compared to the previous limit of thirty days. The extended stay duration allows pilgrims to explore various cities and experience different aspects of Saudi Arabia’s cultural and historical heritage.
Enhanced Air Transportation
The agreement also focuses on improving air transportation for Umrah performers and visitors from Morocco. Saudi Arabia’s flagship carrier, Saudia, has reached an agreement with the Moroccan Ministry of Religious Endowments and Islamic Affairs to facilitate the air transportation of pilgrims. The agreement aims to ensure stable prices and enhance the overall experience of air travel for pilgrims. Saudi Airlines will increase its flights while maintaining stable prices and introducing qualitative initiatives to serve the pilgrims.
Increased Flight Capacity
To accommodate the growing number of visitors and pilgrims, Saudi Arabian Airlines plans to increase its flight capacity by 30 percent during the Umrah season. This increase will gradually raise the number of monthly flights to 68, reduce ticket prices by 10 percent, and increase the weight allowance for each pilgrim to 69 kilograms. These measures will contribute to a smoother travel experience and cater to the rising demand for air transportation.
Gratitude and Appreciation
The Moroccan Minister of Religious Endowments and Islamic Affairs expressed gratitude for the facilitations provided by Saudi Arabia and acknowledged the positive impact of the new measures on upcoming pilgrimage seasons. The Moroccan government appreciates the efforts made by Saudi Arabia to enhance the pilgrimage experience and ensure the comfort and well-being of Moroccan pilgrims.
The agreement between Saudi Arabia and Morocco to advance air transport and serve pilgrims marks a significant milestone in the efforts to improve the pilgrimage experience. The extension of the Umrah season, expedited visa issuance, enhanced air transportation, and increased flight capacity will contribute to a more convenient and comfortable journey for pilgrims from Morocco.
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