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   Umrah Travel Readiness

This article provides information and resources that can help pilgrims obtain visas for travel to Saudi-Arabia to perform Umrah / Hajj.


Umra - A brief Introduction

Umra (عمرة in Arabic) refers to a mini-pilgrimage to the noble city of Makkah in Saudi-Arabia. Muslims can perform almost anytime of the year. In the Arabic language, the word "Umrah" is derived from the word "al-i'timar" meaning "a visit".

Umrah is a vital Islamic ritual. A hadith by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) says: "Accumulated sins are expiated with (the performing of) Umrah".


The Rites of Umrah include (1) entering in the state of Ihram, (2) Tawaf (going in circles that is laos called circumambulation) of Ka'bah, (3) Sayee (going between) the hills of Safa and Marwah (now part of the Masjid Al-Ahram), and (4) shaving and clipping of the hair In Umrah. During Umrah, pilgrims do not go to Mina, Arafat and / or Muzdalifa or throw pebbles on Jamrat) or offer animal sacrifice.

Umra can be performed at any time of the year except during the Hajj season, performing in the month of Ramadan and together with the Hajj. According to some Islamic schools of thought, although Umrah is not compulsory but is highly recommended for Muslims to perform during their lifetimes, if they can afford the trip.

Travel Considerations for Umrah / Hajj Travel

  • Umrah can be performed any time during the year. However, to accommodate pilgirms for Hajj and other considerations, Saudi consulate issues Umrah visas only certain times of the year. Historically, the visas have been issued each year from the beginning of the Islamic month of Safar until beginning of the month of Ramadan. However, these rules do change and pilgrims should check with local Saudi consulates.

  • Each applicant for an Umrah visa must apply through a licensed US travel agency, which must have signed a contract with a Saudi company or establishment to provide Umrah visa services.

  • Although ladies are discouraged to take the trip by themselves, any lady over the age of forty-five year is permitted to travel without a Mahram (legal guardian) with an organized group, provided she submits a letter of no objection from her husband, son and / or brother authorizing her to travel for Umrah with the named group. Saudi embassy / consulates may have different rules depending on the country of origin.

  • The usual validity of an Umrah visa is one month.

  • Umrah visas do not give the right to work or reside in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

  • Umrah travel and arrangements are very similar to Hajj travel and arrangements.

  • Although, the rituals of Umrah can be completed in an hour during off-peak seasons, during peak and Hajj seasons, it can take many hours. For example, performing Umrah during the last ten days of Ramadan can be a lengthy process.


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