A civil society organisation, Independent Hajj Reporters, IHR, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to appeal to Saudi Arabia to waive the SR2,000 tax imposed on visa for Umrah and hajj pilgrims from Nigeria.
The waiver, if granted, will enable more Nigerian Muslims perform Hajj/Umrah exercise with ease.
The new visa rule was released in August 2016 and became operational on October 2 2016.
It states that “a one-time entry visa fee will be SR2,000, but the state will bear this fee if a visitor is coming to the Kingdom for the first time to perform Hajj or Umrah.
“A six-month multiple-entry visa cost 3,000 Saudi Riyals (SR), a one year multiple-entry visa cost SR5000, while a two-year multiple-entry visa cost SR8000”.
In a statement jointly signed by its National Coordinator Ibrahim Muhammed and Publicity Secretary, Abubakar Mahmoud, IHR noted that religious Ministry of Pakistan recently informed the country’s Senate that Saudi Arabia has agreed to abolish Umrah tax of SR 2,000 on Pakistan Pilgrims.
The approval, followed a request made by Pakistani Prime Minister, Imram Khan when he visited Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salman recently.
“Pakistan is not the only country that has enjoyed this waiver as Egypt and Turkey Umrah repeaters within one year are also excluded from paying the SR 2,000.
“Nigeria occupies number one position in Africa in terms of numbers of pilgrims that perform Hajj/Umrah and therefore deserve special consideration from the Saudi Arabia government.
“In addition, the excellent hajj arrangements by Nigeria in recent years have been acknowledged by way of commendations by Saudi Arabian government and therefore deserve a special treatment as extended to other countries mentioned above”.
“In view of the above, we urge Mr. President to on behalf of millions of Nigerian Muslim Ummah plead with Saudi Arabia to waive the SR2,000 Hajj/Umrah fee for repeaters so as allow millions of intending pilgrims to fulfil their religious obligations”.
The statement adds that “there has been uneasiness on the part of Tour Operators and intending Hajj/Umrah Pilgrims over the new rule.