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Syrians not allowed to visit for Umrah

By Diana Al-Jassem | ArabNews | Jeddah | 13 Apr 2012

Umrah performers from all over the world have started to arrive in Jeddah, but Syrian people are banned from doing Umrah this year due to the cancellation of all flights and bus trips, according to a member of the Haj and Umrah committee at the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI).

Ahmad Bajuaither, who is also the owner of a Haj and Umrah company that arranges trips from Syria to the Kingdom during the holy months, added, “Until now we didn’t receive any Umrah performer from Syria. The consulate is already closed in Damascus, and diplomatic relations have also stopped.” According to Bajuaither, even if Umrah companies were allowed to arrange trips from Syria, they would not do so.

“In the current state, many Syrians prefer to come to the Kingdom and stay here to work and live. They would not like to return to their country, due to the political clashes and economical circumstances. It would be a risk to arrange trips for Syrian Umrah performers,” he said.

Jameel Al-Qurashi, head of the local transportation committee at MCCI, confirmed that a large number of Umrah performers from all Islamic and Arabic countries including Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, and Bahrain had arrived to Jeddah, but not Syrians.

“Our committee arranged with several bus companies to transfer Umrah performers during Ramadan 2012. We already started receiving Umrah performers from neighboring countries, including Arab Spring countries, and we serve them since the first day of arrival. However, we didn’t receive any Syrian buses yet. This year there is no opportunity for Syrians to come to the Kingdom, as all diplomatic relations have been frozen,” he said.

Al-Qurashi said they would love to receive Syrian Umrah performers this year, and they are still waiting for any new announcements on the matter.

Arab News spoke to a source working for a Syrian office that issues visas to Saudi Arabia, who confirmed that a number of Syrian citizens still received visas and visiting applications from Saudi Arabia. They complete the process through the consulates in Amman and Beirut. The source stressed that the Saudi consulate had already been closed, and Umrah applications were pending.

As part of the economic sanctions issued by the Arab League in February, Saudi Arabian Airlines has stopped all its flights to Syria. Previously, Saudi Airlines had four flights from Riyadh, four from Jeddah, and two from Dammam to Damascus each week. Arab News contacted Saudi Airlines, but they didn’t want to comment on the issue.

 

 

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