The Ministry of Haj in Saudi Arabia has increased the number of
Ramadan visas for foreign pilgrims by 16 percent, according to Walid
Abu Saba, head of the Tourism and Hotel Committee at the Makkah
Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
According to the Arab News, the
ministry had planned to issue 792,000 Umrah visas this Ramadan. But
faced with the rising demand from external agents and complaints of
low occupancy by hotel owners in Makkah and Madinah, it has decided
to issue up to 911,000 visas.
Last Ramadan, 674,000 visas were
The decision to increase the number of
Ramadan visa will have a direct impact on hotel occupancies in the
two holy cities. The hoteliers expected 80 percent occupancy for the
first 20 days of Ramadan as against 65 percent estimated a week
Barring the slump witnessed in Rajab and Shaaban, the Umrah sector
has performed exceptionally well this year. Abu Saba said the figure
for foreign pilgrims’ arrivals is going to touch four million this
year, which will be a record in itself.
Hotel owners are reporting increased occupancy during the last few
days. Among the noticeable pilgrims are nationals of Gulf
Cooperation Countries (GCC).
According to Shaji Nehal, a travel
industry executive and long-time Umrah watcher, since GCC nationals
do not require visas to travel to Saudi Arabia their travel plans
remain very fluid. Many of them decide to perform Umrah after
breaking their fast on the first day of Ramadan, and the advent of
the holy month motivates many others to make last-minute decisions.
Hence, as Ramadan progresses so does the influx of pilgrims.
Meanwhile, hotel rooms in Makkah and Madinah have become costlier by
more than 500 percent. A normal room in a five-star hotel which
otherwise is available for SR750 is now being rented for SR4,000 per
night. Ramadan rates for hotel rooms in the two holy cities give an
In Dar Al-Tawheed a weekday room, including iftar and suhur, is
available for SR4,105 per night. Three-day weekend package
(Wednesday-Friday) is SR18,525.
Hilton, Makkah: Weekdays 2,520 per night with iftar; three-day
weekend package SR10,530 with iftar.
Zamzam Tower, Makkah: Weekdays SR1,750; three-day weekend package
In Madinah, the same rate applies throughout the week and all the
packages come with iftar and suhur. Hence, Madinah Hilton (SR2,500
per night); Madinah Oberoi (SR2,000 per night); and Dar Al-Iman
Madinah (SR1,500 per night).
Rates for the last 10 days of Ramadan in Makkah and Madinah are
different. No rate is available for Dar Al-Tawheed as the rooms are
sold out in advance. Hilton Makkah: SR56,000 (city view); SR61,000 (Haram
Zamzam Tower: SR37,000 (city view); SR42,000 (Haram view).
Movenpick Hajar Tower: SR55,000 (city view only).
Madinah Oberoi (SR2,270); Dar Al-Iman (SR1,950); and Hilton Dar Al-Taqwa