The introduction of e-visas and affordable packages for Umrah has prompted many UAE residents to undertake the pilgrimage a few times a year. However, as Muslims around the world prepare for the Haj pilgrimage (June 14-19), it is now mandatory for UAE residents to book a slot on Nusuk App to perform Umrah. Also, only people with valid Umrah visas will be able to undertake the pilgrimage.

With Saudi Arabia announcing the entry date of Umrah visa holders as May 23, 2024, and exit date as June 6, 2024, pilgrims are eager to seize the opportunity to embark on the pilgrimage.

Over a hundred inquiries a day

Qaiser Mahmood from ASAA Tourism said their agency receives over a hundred calls daily from residents seeking to embark on Umrah before the Haj season commences.

“We were receiving hundreds of calls daily. Residents enquire about the requirements to travel to Umrah before the Haj season begins. There is a huge demand currently but we do see it slightly decreasing as the Haj season approaches,” said Mahmood.

Shihab Perwad from Rehan Al Jazeera Tourism said the quota of Umrah visas has reduced significantly. “Previously, we had 15,000 Umrah visa quota, it has currently been reduced to 1,500. This is being done by the authorities to prepare for the Haj season."

Residents who are willing to perform Umrah before the Haj season must start planning now because of the limited timeframe. “People who have a valid Umrah visa can travel to Madinah and Makkah currently. They have to exit the two holy cities before the set deadline by the authorities,” said Mahmood

Book slots on Nusuk App before tickets

Mahmood said one must book slots for Umrah through the Nusuk app before booking the tickets. “Once the Umrah slot is booked, the pilgrim should reach the holy city in a few hours before it becomes invalid. Failure to do so may result in pilgrims being denied entry to Saudi Arabia."

“The allocation of prayer slots through the Nusuk app has witnessed a decline, with no availability for sites such as Rowdah or Riyad al-Jannah,” said Perwad.

Two-year jail term for violating the law

Perwad said strict penalties await those who violate regulations not leaving the holy sites on or before the Haj season. “It may include imprisonment for up to two years and hefty fines amounting to SAR 50,000. It will be considered illegal entry to Madinah and Makkah,” said Perwad.

Restricted airports

According to Umrah operators, pilgrims with Umrah visas can access certain airports, namely Jeddah, Madinah, Yanbu, and Taif. “Those holding multiple entry visas are prohibited from traveling to these designated airports,” said Perwad.


Travellers from the UAE are now required to receive the influenza vaccine before embarking on their pilgrimage journey. “If vaccination is not taken, pilgrims will be denied entry to board the flights,” said Perwad.

As the first batch of Haj pilgrims has already arrived, authorities are intensifying preparations for the upcoming Haj season, leading to heightened vigilance.

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