TRAVELLERS to Saudi Arabia holding visit visas will not be allowed to enter the holy city of Makkah during the Haj season, according to the Kingdom’s Ministry of Interior.

In a statement, the ministry said the ban would remain in force from May 23 to June 21.

Foreigners currently in Saudi Arabia on visit visas have been requested not to travel to Makkah during the designated period, acco­rding to the Saudi Press Agency.

Any person intending to perform Haj rituals in Makkah will need a permit as visit visas do not grant permission to perform Haj, the ministry warned.

The Ministry of Haj and Umrah has also stopped issuing Umrah permits through the Nusuk app — an online portal for permits to perform the rituals, reported Saudi Gazette, while quoting the ministry.

Saudi officials have war­ned the violators of strict punishments and hefty fines.

“Defying Haj regulations will result in severe and unwavering penalties. A fine of SR10,000 ($2,666) will be imposed on individuals caught in Makkah and the holy sites without a Haj permit, applicable to citizens, residents, and visitors. The fine will double for repeat offenders, and resident violators face deportation and a ban from entering Saudi Arabia,” the ministry said in a statement, posted on X earlier this week.

The penalties will be imposed on anyone caught without a Haj permit within designated areas of Makkah, including the city; central Haram area; holy sites of Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah; Haramain train station in Russeifa; security control centres; pilgrims’ grouping centres; and temporary security control centres, according to the Saudi Gazette.

Any person caught transporting pilgrims in Makkah without Haj permits will face an imprisonment of up to six months and a fine of 50,000 Saudi riyals.

Published in Dawn, May 24th, 2024

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