Saudi visa increase for SA sparks online outcry for it to be scrapped

Cape Town - South African Muslims are not happy with an increase in the cost of a Hajj and Umrah visa to Saudi Arabia by between R5 300 to R7 300, according to an online petition.

The increase has sparked an outcry amongst South Africans as indicated by the online petition calling for the “inhumane” visa prices to be scrapped, with more than 7 500 people supporting the campaign started by AK Abdool. 

It states,” The new price of the umrah visas are inhumane. Visas need to be free or kept at a minimum cost. These new charges Must Fall !!” 

The annual Islamic pilgrimage is said to be the largest annual gathering in the world, drawing an estimated 3 million pilgrim visitors each year. 

According to reports SR2 000 (about R7 300) visa to travel to Saudi Arabia for the pilgrimage has been imposed, yet the Sahuc general secretary Hassan Choonara says the council had not received formal communication from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or its embassy in Pretoria.

A 'consolation' of the new visa fee structure however, as reported by Al-Arabiya, the Ministry of Haj has indicated that the new fee structure, which comes into effect from the 2nd of October 2016, will see all visa fees completely waived and fully paid for by the Saudi government for all first-time pilgrims going for either Hajj or Umrah. 

Traveller24 has contact both parties and has yet to receive a response.

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